Lester NovrosOccupation / Title:
27/01/1909Date of death:
Passaic, New Jersey
Novros was an oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, animator and artist, as well as being a professor and a film designer, who made many breakthroughs in the large-format screen industry used widespread today to depict theatrical films.
Novros was hired by Walt Disney in 1936, assisting Grim Natwick on the first animated film feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937). Through the rest of the 30′s, Novros worked at the Disney studio on many other animated features, in addition to classic cartoons such as Mickey Mouse, depicting the character in the breakthrough film Fantasia, released by Disney in 1940.
In the early 40′s, Novros became a professor of film at the University of South California, and worked there until the mid 80′s alongside many other projects on the go. It was at this time that Novros encountered a young George Lucas in his class, and reportedly became a considerable force of influence upon the aspiring filmmaker. During this time, Novros also founded the Graphic Films company with business partner George Casey, and produced military training videos for the government during World War II. Graphic Films helped, many years later, change the United States of Congress’ mind as well as the public’s mind on the topic of space exploration. Novros advocated for the importance of seeking greater heights beyond the reach of the moon, and these videos provided a fertile training ground for special-effects animators to exercise and hone their talents.
In the 60′s, while producing live-action documentaries on space exploration, Novros captured the attention of famed director Stanley Kubrick after making his film To the Moon and Beyond. Novros and his team of special-effects animators were hired upon the basis of this short film for the 1968 science-fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. This move for Kubrick paid off as a year later, the team received the Academy Award for Best Special Effects.
In 1969, Novros founded a company with Casey and Frank Capra Jr. which was the Showsphere Corp., pioneering together the 70-mm film technology which allow for the projection of large-format films we find in Imax theatres today, as well as commercial venues and museums. Some of the first IMAX films were subsequently directed by Novros, and his documentary Universe (1972) was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary.
Honors and awards
Novros has since been honored for his oustanding achievements by the Large Format Cinema Association, as well as receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award by ASIFA.
Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television’s Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2006. Print.