From school dropout to Academy Award winner

Animator Nickson Fong's passion for film puts him on road to Hollywood

WHEN animator Nickson Fong becomes the first Singaporean to pick up an Academy Award next month, he can look back with pride to the moment that inspiration struck.

He had been working on visual effects for the movie Godzilla in 1998 in the wee hours of one morning when he took a seemingly uninteresting algorithm - or formula - that a recent college graduate used to bend cylinders and applied it to muscle joints and facial expressions.

The technique - dubbed Pose Space Deformation - allowed for more life-like movements and subtle nuances in facial expressions.

It was a game-changer in the film industry. Hollywood blockbusters like Spiderman, Avatar and The Lord Of The Rings all used it for their 3-D characters.

Fifteen years later, Mr Fong, 43, will receive the Technical Achievement Award as part of a three-man international team.

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