Monday, October 24, 2016
  • Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016
Motion Picture Academy Honors Scientific and Technical Award Winners
From left: Motion Picture Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, actors Olivia Munn and Jason Segel and Motion Picture Academy CEO Dawn Hudson are seen at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 in Beverly Hills, CA. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)
  • BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP)
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Subjects like rapid prototyping, 3-D texture painting and the intricacies of digital media review systems became comic material Saturday (2/13) for Olivia Munn and Jason Segel, hosts of the film academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards. Or at least they tried their best.

With enthusiastic explanations laden with high-tech lingo, the two actors brought levity to the annual ceremony honoring the inventors, engineers and technicians behind advances in filmmaking technology. Segel called them “the magicians who can bring (creative) visions to life.”

Representing the “science” part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the work of the 11 groups recognized during the untelevised dinner celebration at the Beverly Wilshire hotel is highly specialized — mostly tools for viewing, sharing and manipulating digital media — but it has contributed to countless hit films.

Here’s a look at some of the films that benefited from the inventions recognized at the Sci-Tech Awards.

— “The Avengers”: The Marvel superhero smash is one of many action films to make use of the Aircover Inflatables Airwall, a giant, inflatable panel that becomes an instant green-screen for special effects.

— “Guardians of the Galaxy”: The many artists on this film used Sony Pictures Imageworks Itview, a media review system, to share working footage globally.

— “Kung Fu Panda”: Hit DreamWorks Animation franchises such as “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” benefited from a proprietary media playback system recognized Saturday.

— “Django Unchained”: Quentin Tarantino’s film relied on the Rhythm & Hues Global DRR System, another media-review platform.

— “Saving Private Ryan”: Shaky scenes in Steven Spielberg’s 1998 film relied on the award-winning optical system called the Image Shaker.

—”Avatar”: The academy also recognized the design and engineering of the MARI 3-D texture painting system, a super high-resolution drawing and painting program developed for “Avatar.”

— “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”: The Industrial Light and Magic Geometry Tracker, a tracking system that links an actor’s performance with animation, was used to create Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Maz Kanata.

— “Anomalisa”: This stop-motion film, nominated for best animated feature Oscar, makes use of Laika’s rapid prototyping techniques, which use 3-D printers with color-uniform results to create interchangeable faces and expressions for the puppets used in stop-motion animation.

Other honorees were Dolby Laboratories’ PRM Series Reference Color Monitors and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, which received a special award in honor of its 100th anniversary. Portions of the Sci-Tech Awards will be included in the Feb. 28 Academy Awards telecast.

Here’s a rundown of the Scientific and Technical Award winners:

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 Marshall 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 green screens, 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 plugin API and comprehensive facility integration including editorial functions, Itview provides an intuitive and flexible creative review environment that can be deployed globally for highly efficient collaboration.

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.

To the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
For one hundred years, the Society’s members have nurtured technology, provided essential standards, and offered the expertise, support, tools and infrastructure for the creation and post-production of motion pictures.

Portions of the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation will be included in the Oscar telecast. Oscars for outstanding film achievements of 2015 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center and televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.  The Oscars will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.