By NAOMI GOLDMAN
When you ask VFX pioneer Ken Ralston to remark on receiving the 2017 VES Lifetime Achievement Award, he shakes his head and notes he’s struggled to find the words.
“Despite that graying face I see in the mirror, in my head,” he says, “I’m still that 14-year-old kid animating clay creatures in my folks’ garage, just having fun, figuring out problems.”
It is that humility, childlike sense of wonder and desire to tackle complex issues that undoubtedly propelled Ralston to become a game-changing force in the visual effects industry for more than four decades…and counting.
Ralston’s love affair with VFX has earned him legendary bona fides and five Academy Awards® in the process, including a Special Achievement Oscar® for the visual effects in the 1984 phenomenon Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi and visual effects Oscars for his transformative work on Forrest Gump, Death Becomes Her, the revolutionary Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Cocoon. He was also Oscar-nominated for The Rocketeer, Jumanji, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Dragonslayer, Back to the Future Part II and Alice in Wonderland (3D).
Ralston is currently Senior Visual Effect Supervisor and Creative Head at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Previously, he placed his artistic and technical stamp on the films at Industrial Light & Magic and played a pivotal role in advancing the company’s renown over the course of 20 years.