The American Society of Cinematographers

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Kathleen Kennedy
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Academy Salutes Sci-Tech Award Honorees

AMPAS honors SMPTE and others during the Scientific and Technical Awards presentation.

Photos by Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S. and Matt Petit / ©A.M.P.A.S.

On the evening of Saturday, Feb. 13, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted its annual Scientific and Technical Awards presentation at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The evening was hosted by actors Olivia Munn and Jason Segel, who entertained the crowd with their enthusiastic pep and pizazz.
    Over the course of the evening, 10 awards were given to 33 individual recipients, and a Special Award (Plaque) was presented to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers in recognition of that organization’s century of fundamental contributions to the advancement of motion-picture standards and technology.
    The evening began with a welcome from Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Sci-Tech Awards Committee Chairman Richard Edlund, ASC. Munn and Segel then took the stage and playfully improvised within the framework of the event’s technical minutia.
    The evening moved quickly, with awards handed out between dinner courses. The pinnacle of the night was the presentation of SMPTE’s Special Award. Founded in 1916 to establish technical standards, SMPTE created a conference program for the ongoing exchange of information and to educate the industry about emerging technology. The Society has continued to be an invaluable contributor to the worldwide motion-picture industry in the digital age. With more than 7,000 members ranging from engineers to students, SMPTE has developed more than 800 standards.
    “SMPTE marvelous,” Segel riffed.
     SMPTE has been honored twice before by the Academy, with an Oscar in 1987 and an Award of Commendation in 1989. Accepting the award was SMPTE President Robert Seidel and Executive Director Barbara Lange.
      “One hundred years ago, this organization was founded to support the motion-picture industry, helping to bring order to the technical chaos of the day,” offered Lange. “From the early days of determining the size and positions of perforations in film to today's work in such areas as high dynamic range in digital cinema, SMPTE's work enables the motion-picture industry to thrive the world over.”
    Concluding the evening, Munn quipped, “I learned so much presenting these awards for all the amazing technology. It has been truly an educational night. I feel like I finally have a grasp on how it all works. But, it does leave Jason and me with one big question to ask.”
    Segel chimed in, “What the hell do you need actors for anymore?”
    To host a lovely evening, Mr. Segel.

The other awards presented during the ceremony were:

    Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates):
    To Michael John Keesling, for the design and development of Image Shaker, an optical system that convincingly creates the illusion of the camera shaking in a variable and repeatable manner. The Image Shaker was unique and superior to alternatives in use when it was invented two decades ago, and it continues to be used today.
    To David McIntosh, Steve Smith, Mike Branham and Mike Kirilenko, for the engineering and development of the Aircover Inflatables Airwall. This system of modular inflatable panels can be erected on location, at lengths reaching hundreds of feet, with exceptional speed and safety. When used to support blue- or greenscreens, the Airwall permits composite shots of unprecedented scale.
    To Trevor Davies, Thomas Wan, Jon Scott Miller, Jared Smith and Matthew Robinson, for the development of the Dolby Laboratories PRM Series Reference Color Monitors. The PRM’s pioneering and innovative design allows the stable, accurate representation of images with the entire luminance range and color gamut used in contemporary theatrical feature presentation.
    To Ronald Mallet and Christoph Bregler, for the design and engineering of the Industrial Light & Magic Geometry Tracker, a novel, general-purpose tracker and solver. Geometry Tracker facilitates convincing interaction of digital and live-action elements within a scene. Its precise results and tight integration with other ILM animation technologies solve a wider range of match-animation challenges than was previously possible.
    To Jim Hourihan, Alan Trombla and Seth Rosenthal, for the design and development of the Tweak Software RV system, a highly extensible media-player system. RV’s multi-platform toolset for review and playback, with comprehensive APIs, has allowed studios of all sizes to take advantage of a state-of-the-art workflow and has achieved widespread adoption in the motion-picture industry.
    To Richard Chuang and Rahul Thakkar, for the groundbreaking design, and to Andrew Pilgrim, Stewart Birnam and Mark Kirk, for the review workflows and advanced playback features, of the DreamWorks Animation Media Review System. Over its nearly two decades of development, this pioneering system enabled desktop and digital theater review. It continues to provide artist-driven, integrated, consistent and highly scalable studio-wide playback and interactive reviews.
    To Keith Goldfarb, Steve Linn, Brian Green and Raymond Chih, for the development of the Rhythm & Hues Global DDR System. This consistent, integrated, production database-backed review system enables a recordable workflow and an efficient, collaborative content-review process across multiple sites and time zones.
    To J Robert Ray, Cottalango Leon and Sam Richards, for the design, engineering and continuous development of Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Itview. With an extensive plug-in API and comprehensive facility integration that includes editorial functions, Itview provides an intuitive and flexible creative review environment that can be deployed globally for highly efficient collaboration.

    Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaques):
    To Brian McLean and Martin Meunier, for pioneering the use of rapid prototyping for character animation in stop-motion film production. Laika’s inventive use of rapid prototyping has enabled artistic leaps in character expressiveness, facial animation, motion blur and effects animation. Through highly specialized pipelines and techniques, 3D printing capabilities have been harnessed with color uniformity, mechanical repeatability, and the scale required to significantly enhance stop-motion animated feature films.
    To Jack Greasley, Kiyoyuki Nakagaki, Duncan Hopkins and Carl Rand, for the design and engineering of the Mari 3D texture-painting system. Combining powerful, multilayer painting tools and a unique texture-management system, Mari simplifies working with large, high-resolution texture sets. It has achieved broad adoption in the visual-effects industry, often supplanting long-term in-house systems.


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