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Trend Spotting-Sci-Tech Awards

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Although the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science’s Sci-Tech Awards are relegated to a separate time and place, away from the limelight and fanfare of the main Oscar event, with no red-carpet pre-show or fashion critics, certainly all of the statuette winners owe a debt to these techies behind the scenes who make it all possible. The Academy will gather at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills on February 10 to honor some 15 Scientific and Technical achievements, ranging from Arri’s beloved 235 camera, to the YCM archival processes developed at Technicolor. Awards administration director Rich Miller explained that unlike other Academy Awards, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards do not have to have been developed and introduced during 2006. “The achievement can be a device or a discovery, a formula or a method, but it must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures,” said Miller. In the Sci-Tech category, the Academy awards certificates, plaques, and medallions, but only one Statuette—the Gordon E. Sawyer Award. Taking home that honor will be industry pioneer Ray Feeney. He is being recognized for his “technological contributions, which have brought credit to the motion picture industry.”In 1976, Feeney helped to develop one of the first motion-control camera systems for which he received an Academy Award for Scientific and Engineering Achievement in 1988. A second Academy Award followed in 1991 for his work on the Solitaire Image Recorder. Then in 1994 he received two more, one honoring his work in developing film input scanners and the other for the development of the Cinefusion bluescreen extraction technology. In 2001, the Academy’s Board of Governors awarded him the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation for his pioneering efforts to improve visual effects in the motion picture industry.This year’s John A. Bonner Medallion goes to special effects guru Richard Edlund for his “outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.” Edlund’s credits go back to the original Star Wars films, 2001, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, and the original Battlestar Gallactica series, to name just a few. Over the years, Edlund has earned six additional Academy Award nominations and three Scientific and Engineering Awards. He also won an Emmy Award for visual effects for his work on the 1970s TV series Battlestar Galactica. This year the academy will also give a special Award of Commendation to Ioan Allen, J. Wayne Anderson, Mary Ann Anderson, Ted Costas, Paul R. Goldberg, Shawn Jones, Tom Kuhn, Dr. Alan Masson, Colin Mossman, Martin Richards, Frank Ricotta and Richard C. Sehlin for their contributions to the environmentally responsible industry conversion from silver-based to cyan dye analog soundtracks.PlaquesThe Academy will give out four Plaques this year. Phillip J. Feiner, Jim Houston, Denis Leconte and Chris Bushman of Pacific Title and Art Studio will receive one for the design and development of the Rosetta process for creating digital YCM archival masters for digital film restoration.Steve Sullivan, Colin Davidson, Max Chen and Francesco Callari will be honored for the design and development of the ILM Image-based Modeling System, which enables visual effects artists to interactively construct and edit 3D models from digital photographs. The Foundry’s Dr. Bill Collis, Simon Robinson, Ben Kent and Anil Kokaram will be recognized for the design and development of the Furnace suite of software tools. Collis explained that Furnace is a set of plug-ins that solve difficult image processing problems, like wire and rig removal. The software package, which has been widely installed in VFX houses all over the world, is based largely on the company’s motion-estimation algorithms. Howard Preston and Mirko Kovacevic will also receive a plaque for the design and engineering of the Preston Cinema Systems FI+Z wireless remote system.Certificates Technicolor Digital Intermediates’ VP, imaging research, Joshua Pines and VP, imaging, Chris Kutcka will receive an Academy Certificate for creating a digital archival process based on the production of digital YCM separation negatives used to preserve digital files and their corresponding celluloid elements that can be scanned and digitally recombined in the future. Pines and Kutcka were both also responsible for helping create TDI. The system was designed in consultation with key customers like Universal’s Bob O’Neil and Sony’s Grover Crisp. Bill Feightner and Chris Edwards of E-Film will be honored for the design and development of the E-Film process for creating archival separations from digital image data.The E-Film process is based on the production of digital separation negatives creating archival elements that can be scanned and digitally recombined in the future. Albert Ridilla, Papken Shahbazian, Ronald Belknap and Jay McGarrigle will be recognized for the design and development of the Hollywood Film Company’s Brumagic MPST Densitometer, which is used to measure density in the motion picture soundtrack. Arri will receive two awards. The first goes to Klemens Kehrer, Josef Handler, Thomas Smidek and Marc Shipman Mueller for the development of the Arriflex 235 Camera System—a small, lightweight 35mm film camera designed for handheld shooting that is popular with filmmakers. The second goes to Walter Trauniger and Ernst Tschida for the design and engineering of the Arri WRC wireless remote lens control system, which features multiple hand controls of all lens functions. The Academy will also recognize another wireless remote system. Christian Tschida and Martin Waitz of cmotion will be honored for the design of the cmotion Wireless Remote System. The graphical user interface of the cmotion system eases the difficult task of following focus and the “lens tag” system recalls the calibration for each lens.ILM’s Florian Kainz will be recognized for the development of OpenEXR, a file format that enables VFX artists to work with 16-bit, floating-point, High Dynamic Range Image (HDRI) files.Peter Litwinowicz and Pierre Jasmin will receive an award for the development of the RE: Vision Effects family of software tools for optical flow-based image manipulation, which are used in animation, tracking motion, non-photorealistic rendering and image processing.

Written by Scott Lehane

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