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SCITECH awards

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By Dan Bolton
Fifteen technical achievements are under scrutiny by members of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee for the 76th Academy Awards.
Five of these were demonstrated Oct. 21 in a process that will narrow the field to a few honorees. Committee chair Richard Edlund, himself the winner of four Oscars, opened the evening with praise for the often unsung advancements used in making today’s films.
Presentations included Kinoton America’s high-speed studio projector; Kino Flo’s fluorescent lamps; silicone makeup appliances by Greg Cannom and two remote camera systems from Hot Gears and FX Motion.
The equipment was displayed in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater where committee members and the press got hands-on demonstrations followed by a 15 minute presentation from each firm.
Kinoton’s Larry Shaw described in detail the research and advances in studio dubbing projectors. Theater projectors are simply too slow, he said, and typical studio projectors display poor images. Kinoton’s KF29, KF32 and KF55 machines offer faster speeds, greater image stability and “14 years after our first installation at Warner Bros. it is still in use” he told the gathering, adding, Kinoton has “saved thousands of hours industrywide with an image so good there is no need for separate dubbing and screening projectors.”
Compact fluorescent lights offer the high lumens of large units with added convenience, Kino Flo spokesman Frieder Hochheim told the committee. “These directional soft lamps provide excellent light density from a smaller unit and are ideal for four-camera shows like the sitcoms they doing at NBC.”
The Truematch compact lights invented by his company “put out the same light in half the size.” The secret is a fluorescent powder developed by Kino Flo and superior lamp designs like the ParaBeam that are rugged and versatile. Our cosmetic ring light “peels years off the actors” and is light enough to mount on a Steadicam, said Hoccheim.
After the demo, cinematographer Steven Poster, ASC said, “No light is as consistent in this specialty arena as Kino Flo, both for the way they fit on the cameras, their modularity and the way they work.”
Wes Wafford, a prosthetic makeup artist with Greg Cannom Creations, demonstrated a silicone appliance that he said is superior to gelatin and latex masks.
The material is quickly molded, takes conventional makeup and has a 90-percent success rate when properly applied, he said. He showed a number of applications in major features like aging Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind and transforming robot Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man while describing the process step by step. “A single makeup artist can apply 18 pieces in an eight-hour day,” he old the committee.
Mehran Salamati, inventor of the Hot Gears Smart Remote System and investor Barry Colvin described the battery-operated device. It can be inverted, mounted on a crane and comes with an umbilical of 50 to 100 feet. “DPs tell me they can get in nine shots per day,” using it,” said Colvin. “The advantage to these systems is that you get a remote shot when safety is a concern; get more shots and it records multiple moves,” said Colvin. You can use it to do a shot and pull off the motors to operate manually,” Salamati told the audience. “Unlike more complex remote systems, it doesn’t slow things down,” he said.
E-Gearing’s FX Motion System uses brushless motors and motor units interchangeable for different brands of gearheads, presenter Stijn Vanorbeek said. The data is stored in Flash memory and can be digitally exported to provide tracking information necessary for visual effects 3-D shots in Maya and Softimage,” said Vanorbeek. His Belgium-based firm has 15 units in use in Toronto, Paris, London and the U.S.
The committee will decide its recommendations Dec. 3. The Academy’s Board of Governor’s reviews and generally approves the committee’s work. Winners are announced in early January with a presentation Feb. 14 at the Ritz-Carlton, Pasadena.
In addition to the above, the following technical achievements are under consideration:
• Ultimate Director’s Finder (UDF), Kish Optics
• Kodak Process-Surviving Film Antistatic Technology, Eastman Kodak Company
• Influential Work in High Dynamic Range Imaging and Image-based Lighting, ICT Graphics Lab
• Digidesign Pro Tools Digital Audio Workstation, Digidesign
• “Massive” Animation System, Massive Ltd.
• Subsurface Scattering Rendering System (SCAT), Industrial Light+Magic
• WETA Digital’s Subsurface Scattering Implementation, WETA Digital
• ESC Entertainment Lighting Reconstruction Toolkit, ESC Entertainment
• Series of Four Separate but Integrated Macro/Micro 8/70 & 15/70 3-D Camera Heads, Image Quest 3-D Ltd.
• Digital Hybrid Wireless Microphones, Lectrosonics, Inc.

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