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Tim McGovern, ‘Total Recall’ VFX Oscar Winner, Dies at 68

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Visual effects veteran Tim McGovern, who received a Special Achievement Oscar for the VFX in the 1990 sci-fi classic “Total Recall,” has died, his wife Reena NeGandhi announced Saturday on social media. He was 68.

The VFX innovator served as CGI director on Paul Verhoeven’s “Total Recall,” which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and was based on Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” McGovern’s work on the film included the inventive effects used as Schwarzenegger’s Quaid and others pass through a sort of X-ray security check revealing their skeletons.

“We were saddened and shocked by the sudden news of Tim’s untimely passing,” said Kim Davidson, Visual Effects Society board chair, in a statement. “Tim and I have been VES members and colleagues for many years and his passion and loyalty to the Society were exemplary. Tim’s insights, expertise and volunteer leadership have been key to our global expansion and he will be terribly missed by us all. Our thoughts are with Tim’s friends and family and all who knew him.”

McGovern began his career in the early days of digital, computer-based VFX, including work on pioneering 1982 movie “Tron” while at the former Robert Abel and Associates. He went on to become a founding member of Sony Pictures Imageworks, serving as senior VFX supervisor, as well as senior VP of creative and technical affairs. At Imageworks, his work ranged from “Last Action Hero” to “The Ghost and the Darkness.”

Most recently, he was working at DNEG, earning credits on movies including “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” “Dunkirk,” “Ant-Man at the Wasp,” “First Man,” “Men in Black: International” and “Jungle Cruise.” In recent years he lived in Mumbai, where DNEG has a base, and additionally served as chief creative officer of animation development at the production company Whisper Pictures. 

Last fall, McGovern received the Visual Effects Society Founders Award and was awarded VES Fellowship and Lifetime Membership. He was a founding member of the Society and a board member for nearly 20 years, including a stint as vice chair.  For VES, he also served as founding co-chair of the VES Awards, which were presented for the 22nd time in February.