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AMPAS Presents Sci-Tech Awards


Denny Clairmont accepted the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation at the Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards, Feb. 12 (Photo by: Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.)
It was an intriguing start to the Academy’s annual Scientific & Technical Awards, which themselves have been going on since the 4th Oscar night (back before you could televise the highlights two weeks later): The rising a capella group The Backbeats came out and sang a few numbers, their voices alone emulating all instruments and devices.

Was there a contrary subtext to have an essentially no-tech group start the evening’s festivities? Well, their voices were miked and mixed (and they were being filmed), so maybe we live with those contradictions after all.

Such musings were all that existed by way of any suspense or unresolved questions, as the winners of this group of awards – themselves coming in three tiers (a Technical Achievement Award certificate, a bronze tablet for the Scientific and Engineering Award and an actual statuette for an Academy Award of Merit ) – were all known in advance.

Still, it was a convivial evening at the Beverly Wilshire with everyone able to put their Oscar drag – tux and evening gowns – on in advance, (though as it turns out, Below the Line’s own publisher, Patrick Graham, is officially known to the Academy as “Kilt Man,” due to his particular choice of evening wear).

Evening’s host Marisa Tomei acquitted herself with humor, at one point introducing an award for Cablecam 3-D suspended cable technologies – allowing cars and such to be moved through the air in safe and more importantly cool ways – by explaining the way it affected “pitch, and my favorite, yaw,” of the objects being moved.

In accepting that award, co-inventor James Rodunsky was helped to stage as his colleague Alex MacDonald let it be known that he was fighting brain cancer. Another sobering moment came with legendary camera house proprietor Denny Clairmont received the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, starting out by noting, “this has not been an easy year.”

But he was also sure to thank his late brother, and company co-founder, Terry, especially for their program, which gets so much free gear into the hands of university students and budding campus filmmakers.

Hollywood isn’t necessarily renowned for “pay it forward” moments, but it was nice the evening made note of them. Perhaps then, when The Backbeats were closing their opening number with a quiet rendition of Steven Nicks’ poignant “Landslide,” wasn’t so much an oblique reference to technology, with its themes of time and changes, but rather, pausing in the middle of that to appreciate what you have.

On the whole, it was a good humored night, and the room – the stage, certainly – was rife with appreciation.


Venue: The Beverly Wilshire. Elegant and not too garish. Even the giant Oscar statues didn’t overwhelm the room.

Parking: By Valet. It all went smoothly enough.

Food n’ Booze: Good all around, though your intrepid reporter has yet to find the definitive “vegetarian alternative” entree. The Sonoma Cab kept flowing, and the Sci Tech folks were pretty generous about keeping the hosted bar going for awhile after the show, too.

Swag: Is it me? Do I keep missing the swag? Or are we truly in the midst of permanent economic readjustment in an era of shortage?

Memorable Line: As already being reported elsewhere in the trades, it was Arnaud Lamorette’s – he the co-inventor, along with Eric Tabellion – of software that allows realistic, multi-textured “bounce light” to be reflected off numerous surfaces – when he cited a claimed Medical Journal stat saying Academy winners lived a few years longer than non-winners. “Combine that with the French medical system” he added, “and a glass of red wine every day, and I’ll live to be 100.”

Click here for more about the honorees:
10 Scientific and Technical Achievements to be Honored with Academy Awards

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