Here lies… The Pumpkin King of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the visual effects that made him dance.
The work of Pete Kozachik, Eric Leighton, Ariel Valesco-Shaw and Gordon Baker holds a unique place in the history of the Academy’s visual effects category. As the first – and as of 2012, the last – soley animated film to receive a nomination in this category, it earned the visual effects branch’s respect like none before or since. Oh sure, Mary Poppins and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? won the category in their respective years, but those trophies came predominantly for the way they integrated animation with live action. The Nightmare Before Christmas, however, earned its nomination for the way Henry Selick’s stop-motion universe came to life thanks to innovative camera techniques.
While many may think this film’s idea of “visual effects” lays exclusively at the floating ghosts and shape-shifting shadows that pepper Henry Selick’s visual palate, the Oscar nomination was more a reward for the way the cameras were developed with computer technology to help navigate the heavily-designed “claymation” world.