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Trend Spotting-SciTech Awards

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present its Scientific and Technical Academy Awards at The Beverly Wilshire, February 9. The event is always held separate from the pomp and pageantry of the regular Oscars, but for the winners – those behind-the-scenes technical gurus who are constantly raising the bar in motion picture filmmaking – it’s no less prestigious.
“This is our ultimate reward for the endless efforts, dedication and sleepless nights that we have been investing in this application for the past ten years,” said Victor Gonzalez, CEO of Next Limit, which is being recognized for its RealFlow system.
No doubt the sentiment is shared by all of the honorees. Ten winners will be regaled with certificates, plaques and statuettes along with three Scientific and Technical Special Award recipients.
The awards recognize technical achievements with “a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.” Unlike other Academy Awards, they are not restricted to development of the previous year.
If there were a theme to this year’s awards it would be fluid dynamics – with six awards recognizing the development of various fluid simulation and fluid dynamics systems used to create realistic CG liquids in visual effects systems.
Victor Gonzalez, Ignacio Vargas and Angel Tena will receive a Technical Achievement Award (Academy Certificate) for the creation of the RealFlow software application, developed by Next Limit of Spain. The Academy lauded it as “the first widely adopted, commercially available, easy-to-use system for the simulation of realistic liquids in motion picture visual effects.”
The system has been used to create realistic fluids for such films as 300, Meet the Robinsons, Poseidon, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Jonathan Cohen, Dr. Jerry Tessendorf, Dr. Jeroen Molemaker and Michael Kowalski will also receive an Academy Certificate for the development of the fluid dynamics tools at Rhythm & Hues, which allow artists to animate realistic liquids and gases, using novel simulation techniques for accuracy and speed, as well as a unique scripting language for working with volumetric data.
In addition, the Academy will recognize Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system, and Stephan Trojansky, Thomas Ganshorn and Oliver Pilarski for the development of the Flowline fluid effects system.
The Academy’s two Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaques) will also pick up on the fluid theme, recognizing Dr. Doug Roble, Nafees Bin Zafar and Ryo Sakaguchi for the development of the fluid simulation system at Digital Domain as well as Nick Rasmussen, Ron Fedkiw and Frank Losasso Petterson for the development of the Industrial Light & Magic fluid simulation system.
But the awards go beyond just digital visual effects systems. The Academy will give a Technical Achievement Award to Christien Tinsley for the creation of the transfer techniques for applying 2D and 3D makeup known as Tinsley Transfers. These techniques allow quick and precisely repeatable application of 2D makeup such as tattoos, bruises and birthmarks, as well as 3D prosthetic appliances ranging in size from small wounds to entire torsos.
Jörg Pöhler and Rüdiger Kleinke of OTTEC Technology will receive a certificate for the design and development of the battery-operated series of fog machines known as Tiny Foggers.
The academy will also recognize Sebastian Cramer and Andreas Dasser, of P+S Technik for the mechanical design of the Skater Dolly, a small, portable, camera-only dolly for low lens positions, movement in restricted places and tight offset circular maneuvers with rapid set-up.
The Academy will also bestow three Scientific and Technical Special Awards. David A. Grafton, will receive this year’s Gordon E. Sawyer Award (an Oscar Statuette), presented “to an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.”
Grafton designed lenses for optical effects printers. At the time of their development these were adopted by nearly every visual effects facility. Working with such effects companies as ILM and Boss Film Studios, he contributed to such films as Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Blade Runner.
“David’s innovative designs have enabled audiences to see the ‘impossible’ on movie screens, and his work has dramatically improved the quality of visual effects in the motion picture industry,” said Academy president Sid Ganis.
Grafton previously received two Scientific and Engineering Academy Awards: in 1980 for the optical design of a telecentric anamorphic lens for motion picture optical effects printers; and in 1986 as part of the team behind the Zoom Aerial 65mm Optical Printer.
David S. Inglish will be awarded the John A. Bonner Award (a medallion). Inglish began his career in the 60s at Walt Disney Imagineering. In 1985 he served as project manager for Disney’s Computerized Animation Production System (CAPS), and in 1987 he produced Disney’s first all-computer-animated short film, Oilspot and Lipstick. His feature credits include Tron, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin and Pocahontas.
Eastman Kodak Company will receive an Academy Award of Merit, (an Oscar Statuette), for the development of photographic emulsion technologies incorporated into the Kodak Vision2 family of color negative films.
Finally the Academy will give an Award of Commendation to Jonathan Erland for coordinating and conducting tests to identify and solve the problem of high-speed emulsion stress syndrome in motion picture film stock.

Written by Scott Lehane

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