A former Hawke's Bay man was popping champagne bottles last night after his team from Weta Digital walked away with an Oscar.

Animation supervisor Paul Story, who was born and raised in Waipawa, was part of the team who won Best Visual Effects for The Jungle Book.

"We were so excited to get nominated but to actually win was a real bonus."

Visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon was there to collect the prestigious award with fellow animators Robert Legato, Adam Valdez and Andrew R. Jones.


After being at Weta Digital for 21 years Mr Story has worked on a variety of projects including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit movies and King Kong, but said The Jungle Book was right up there as one of his favourites.

"It was a fun experience from the get go and it was special having director Jon Favreau at the helm as he was great to work with."

Mr Story was lucky enough to meet the director in Los Angeles, where they did some shooting and talked about ideas and where they wanted to go with the production of the movie.

He said Mr Favreau was a lovely guy who was very collaborative in his approach.

The Jungle Book was one of six projects last year and about 400 people were part of the visual effects, with their focus primarily set on King Louie and the monkeys.

The team worked on four sequences of King Louie and did about 300 shots.

"Some parts were pretty challenging as you had to work King Louie and the monkeys together with the monkeys reacting to King Louie's draping fur."

New technological developments was another area that proved to be challenging for the team but they managed to develop and work with the new technology as they went along.

One aspect Mr Story loved about The Jungle Book was that King Louie's voice was done by US actor Christopher Walken.

He said Mr Favreau married together so well the character and the "legendary" voice of Mr Walken.

"It just seemed to work so well and Jon just had that vision and direction."

The Jungle Book beat other nominees Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Kubo and the Two Strings and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The team have more projects coming up, with about six this year, though Mr Story was not able to say what they were.

"We are all pretty proud of the work we have achieved and are excited for what is to come."