Despite the coronavirus pandemic disrupting the industry and the usual ways of doing things, the show will go on for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its Scientific And Technical Achievement Awards. The Academy revealed Tuesday that 17 achievements, represented by 55 individual recipients as well as two companies, will be honored this year.
The various certificates and plaques, usually handed out during a non-televised black-tie dinner in Beverly Hills, will be presented in a virtual ceremony hosted by filmmaker Nia DaCosta on Saturday, February 13 and be available on the Oscars website starting at 1 p.m. PT that day.
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The awards themselves are almost as old as the Oscars, with the Academy first giving them out with the fourth annual Academy Awards in 1931. The last Scientific and Technical Achievement ceremony was two years ago, in February 2019. The Academy had announced the ceremony would be moved to June 2020, separate from the formal Oscar season, but Covid complications changed those plans along with many others on the awards timetable including the 93rd Oscars, which in fact will now take place on its latest date ever, April 25, and is expected to be a combination virtual/live broadcast on ABC.
The Academy notes that unlike other Academy Awards to be presented this year, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards need not have been developed and introduced during a specified period of time. Rather, the achievements must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures. In some years these achievements have also included select winners receiving an actual Oscar statuette for an Academy Award of Merit, but that is not on the list for this year.
The Sci-Tech presentation in February also will feature a special segment hosted by Kathleen Kennedy, the Oscar-nominated producer and recipient of the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. The segment highlights the groundbreaking achievements of women working in the science and technology of filmmaking.
“In a year of upheaval, some things remain constant: around the world, extremely clever people are striving to push the technology of film to new heights, and the Academy is privileged to be able to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments,” said Doug Roble, chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee. “After a lengthy investigation period, the committee, made up of a diverse group of industry experts, identified 17 different technical achievements that absolutely deserve to be honored. We congratulate all the inventors for their contributions to our art form.”
The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are:
TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS (ACADEMY CERTIFICATES)
To Masato Nakashima, Koichi Ueno, Junji Sakuda and Junro Yonemitsu for the development of the EIZO auto-calibrating SDR monitors that incorporate a built-in sensor, digital uniformity equalizer and accompanying SDK.
EIZO auto-calibrating SDR monitors increase artists’ confidence in facility-wide image reproduction accuracy and reduce disruptions to the creative process and production workflows. They have become indispensable for many major motion picture animation and effects facilities.
To Alejandro Arango, Gary Martinez, Robert Derry and Glenn Derry for the system design, ergonomics, engineering and workflow integration of the widely adopted Technoprops head-mounted camera system.
The Technoprops head-mounted camera system, with its modular and production-proven construction, supports consistent face alignment with improved actor comfort, while at the same time permitting quick reconfiguration and minimizing downtime. This system enables repeatable, accurate and unobstructed capture of an actor’s facial movements.
To Babak Beheshti and Scott Robitille for the development of the compact, stand-alone, phase-accurate genlock synchronization and recording module, and to Ian Kelly and Dejan Momcilovic for the technical direction and workflow integration, of the Standard Deviation head-mounted camera system.
The Standard Deviation head-mounted camera system provides a robust method of accurate camera synchronization to the house clock. Combined with practical innovations for usability, it enables multiple head-mounted camera systems to be used in large capture volumes, resulting in adoption by numerous motion picture productions.
To Sven Woop and Carsten Benthin for core development, Attila T. Áfra for motion picture feature development, and Manfred Ernst and Ingo Wald for early research and technical direction, of the Intel® Embree Ray Tracing Library.
For the past decade, the Intel Embree Ray Tracing Library has provided a high-performance, industry-leading, CPU-based ray-geometry intersection framework through well-engineered open source code, supported by a comprehensive set of research publications. It has become an indispensable resource for motion picture production rendering.
To Hayley Iben, Mark Meyer, John Anderson and Andrew Witkin for the Taz Hair Simulation System.
Taz is a robust, predictable and efficient mass-spring hair simulation system with novel formulations of hair shape, bending springs and hair-to-hair collisions. It has enabled Pixar artists to bring to life animated digital characters with a wide variety of stylized hair, from straight to wavy to curly.
To Stephen Bowline for the ILM HairCraft Dynamics System.
The ILM HairCraft Dynamics System has a physically robust hair-dynamics model that simulates hair by embedding curves in tetrahedral mesh volumes. Its unique spring-based control system has helped ILM artists create a wide range of photorealistic digital characters and digital stunt doubles.
To Kelly Ward Hammel, Aleka McAdams, Toby Jones, Maryann Simmons and Andy Milne for the Walt Disney Animation Studios Hair Simulation System.
The WDAS Hair Simulation System is a robust, predictable, fast and highly art-directable system built on the mathematics of discrete elastic rods. This has provided Disney artists the flexibility to manipulate hair in hyper-realistic ways to create the strong silhouettes required for character animation and has enabled a wide range of complex hairstyles in animated feature films.
To Niall Ryan, Christoph Sprenger and Gilles Daviet for the Synapse Hair Simulation System.
The Synapse Hair Simulation System is a robust, predictable and highly scalable position-based dynamics system with a novel inverse parameter solver. It has helped Weta Digital artists create a wide range of photorealistic digital characters and digital stunt doubles.
To Jens-Jørn Stokholm and Ole Moesmann for their innovative development of miniature high-performance DPA lavalier microphones.
The DPA 4061 and 4071 lavalier microphones exemplify creative design, precise manufacture and meticulous quality control, resulting in consistent performance and exceptional on-set motion picture audio recording.
To Chris Countryman and Omer T. Inan for their engineering of the subminiature high-performance Countryman Associates lavalier microphones.
Originated by company founder Carl Countryman (1946–2006), these meticulously crafted subminiature microphones are easily concealed. Their spectral response-shaping filters, cable mounting and capsule design contribute to their wide adoption by motion picture production sound mixers.
To Fredrik Limsäter, Björn Rydahl and Mattias Lagergren for the design, architecture and engineering of ftrack Studio.
An extensible, efficient and intuitive post-production tracking software system, ftrack Studio has enabled small and large studios alike to efficiently schedule and manage complex digital motion picture animation and visual effects.
To Don Parker for the product vision and design, Matt Daw for the core architecture, and Isaac Reuben, Colin Withers and Neil Brandt for the foundational engineering, of the Shotgun post-production tracking system.
An extensible, web-based, flexible and scalable system, Shotgun has enabled the efficient management of highly complex visual effects and animation post-production workflows. By facilitating deep integration into a wide variety of facility pipelines, Shotgun has successfully productized the tracking of complex production data on large-scale motion pictures.
SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING AWARDS (ACADEMY PLAQUES)
To Dr. Zvi Reznic, Meir Feder, Guy Dorman and Ron Yogev for the development of the Amimon wireless chipset, which enables untethered, high-quality on-set, encrypted digital video monitoring with sub-frame latency.
By using novel extensions of digital data transmission and compression algorithms, and data prioritization based on error rate, the Amimon chipset supports the creation of systems with virtually unrestricted camera motion, expanding creative freedom during filming.
To Nicolaas Verheem, Greg Smokler and Ilya Issenin for the development of the ruggedized Teradek Bolt wireless video transmission system for on-set remote monitoring.
The Teradek Bolt system features a frame-synchronized back channel for real-time camera control, an error-resilient timecode channel and integrated production metadata, which have led to its widespread adoption in motion picture production.
To Alexey Lukin and the Team of Mathematicians, Software Engineers, Sound Designers and Product Specialists of iZotope, Inc. for the development of the RX audio processing system.
Featuring spectral processing algorithms enhanced with machine learning, the iZotope RX system is widely favored by motion picture sound professionals for audio repair and enhancement.
To Jeff Bloom, Guy McNally and Nick Rose for the original concept and engineering of the Wordfit System for automatic ADR synchronization, and to John Ellwood and Jonathan Newland for the engineering and development of VocALign and Revoice Pro.
Wordfit revolutionized the process of post sync ADR by eliminating the need for manual editing to perfect lip sync. VocALign and Revoice Pro are software tools that together give sound editors unprecedented control over the final performance in replaced dialog. In use for many years, these technologies continue their predominance in the creation and seamless integration of replacement dialog tracks in motion pictures.
To Sanken Microphone Company Limited for the original innovation and continuous refinement of the Sanken COS-11 series of miniature lavalier microphones.
Sanken’s early engineering work in microphone orientation and miniaturization has inspired the current generation of lavalier microphones. The exceptional sound quality and durability of the COS-11 series have made them the predominant lavalier microphones used in motion picture production sound recording.
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