By DAN MacDONALD
DRESSED in a penguin suit of his own and dancing around the studios of animation company Animal Logic, former Graftonian and Happy Feet animator Brett Feeney was ecstatic.
The Australian-directed animated feature film had won an Oscar. It is the first Academy Award for director George Miller and the first for Mr Feeney, the production's digital supervisor.
Beamed in live from Hollywood, pictures of the star-studded event made their way through to a packed Sydney office where the self-taught animator crossed his fingers and tightly gripped a champagne glass.
And when their film, which took four years to make, was announced the winner, it was 'bottoms up' and hugs all round.
The Pixar-produced Cars had been favourite leading into the event, but Mr Feeney said his confidence never wavered.
"There has been a lot of press against Happy Feet and I think that -? and the fact that Pixar are such a marketing machine ? is why everyone thought they (Cars) would win," Mr Feeney said.
"But I just think that people thought that Happy Feet was a kind of different film. "It was more photo- oriented and a bit more realistic.
"Yeah, that's why people were still barracking for it."
It was the first day back in Sydney for Mr Feeney after a trip that took in Grafton, Hong Kong and China, and he told The Daily Examiner his team gave him an ultimatum when he arrived back to town.
"They said that I was only allowed to come into the office if I was dressed up in a tux," he said.
"I would have given anything to be in Hollywood at the moment. I wish I was there, but George Miller and his team are lapping it up instead.
"But we're here drinking lots of champagne and eating a ton of finger food. We're over the moon."