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Tech ace from Camden Town wins special effects software Oscar

Talent behind blockbuster movies to fly to Beverley Hills

08 February, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Abigail Brady

IT’S Oscars time, and the winner is… a technology whizz living in Camden High Street!

Abigail Brady is due to fly to Los Angeles this weekend for an Academy Award ceremony at which she will be honoured for her role in the team which developed Nuke, a software system which helps filmmakers produce the special effects which light up their work. Although they do not get the same media attention, the Sci-tech Awards – held a fortnight before the main event – are handed out by the same Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverley Hills.

Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart will host the ceremony on Saturday at the glitzy Beverley Wilshere Hotel. “It’s so exciting,” Ms Brady told the New Journal. “It feels so weird. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to present him with the Star Trek fan-fiction I wrote when I was 12.”

The 38-year-old is being recognised for her work while employed by Foundry, a company based in Soho which owns the rights for Nuke. The software has been used by every “best visual effects” Oscar winner since 2010, including Inception, Gravity, Interstellar and Avatar.

More recently it has been used in Blade Runner 2049, Star Wars and the “live action” version of The Jungle Book. Ms Brady and her colleagues were responsible for developing features for Nuke including the “particle stimulation”, which can be used to ­create smoke and fire.

Artists use the software to combine real-life footage with computer-generated scenery, objects or creatures. Ms Brady said: “Lots of movies will shoot on the streets of London and then use the software to paint out the buildings and superimpose other stuff.”

Speaking about the award, she added: “I’d never imagined it would happen. We just didn’t expect it. We hadn’t put ourselves in for it or anything, they just decided to award us.” Ms Brady moved to London in 2006 and has lived above the Camden Head pub on Camden High Street since last year. “It’s great living here,” she said. She studied computer science at the University of Southampton from 1997 to 2000 and now works for Sony PlayStation on their streaming television service, PlayStation Vue.

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