Academy honors behind-the-scenes technology

Feb 13, 2011 By RYAN PEARSON , AP Entertainment Writer

(AP) -- In Hollywood's long awards season, even the behind-the-scenes techs have their night.

Nineteen computer engineers, wire-mounted camera developers and other technicians reveled in a rare spotlight Saturday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual ceremony focused on the latter part of its name.

Honorees at what's known as the Sci-Tech Oscars noted the strange feeling of celebrating work that when done right is mostly invisible to movie audiences.

"They don't see what we do," said John Frazier, who helped design the NAC servo winch system that pulls vehicles through the air on wires for blockbuster stunts. "This is what makes 47 years (in the industry) worthwhile."

Actress Marisa Tomei hosted the ceremony, handing out plaques and certificates - but no Oscar statuettes - to winners from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and France. Wearing a white Ferre dress with black band accents, Tomei gave cheek kisses to winners and won praise for her pronunciation of phrases like "interposer layer."

"What you have to say tonight is harder than what we do," joked Cablecam co-developer Alex MacDonald.

Six attendees received certificates for their work on render queue management systems, which allow visual effects houses to efficiently process large amounts of data. This prompted Tomei to create a drinking game for the dinner ceremony guests: "Every time (I say) 'queue,' take a shot," she joked.

David Laur of Pixar wondered optimistically about what would come after Academy recognition.

"It's certainly true that nobody grows up to say 'I want to be a queuing systems engineer," he told the audience. "Now there'll be action figures."

Not that technology doesn't already play a starring role in many films.

Mark Sagar of Weta Digital, honored for his innovations in facial motion capture, said he's now working on Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" and "Rise of the Apes" starring James Franco.

"We're getting to the point where we can make a digital character act almost as well as the human counterpart," he said. "We're able to capture more and more of what they're doing. So we can get their performance across really truthfully."

In attendance was veteran producer Walter Mirisch, who co-hosted the very first Sci-Tech Awards ceremony in 1975 alongside Gregory Peck, as well as Feb. 27 Oscars producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer.

Explore further: Judge won't free Russian accused of hacking in US

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Motion picture academy honors nerds of filmmaking

Feb 22, 2010

(AP) -- Forty-five men you've probably never heard of were honored with an Academy Awards ceremony of their own that recognized scientific and technical achievements in moviemaking.

Computer Science Professor Wins Oscar

Mar 07, 2006

And the Oscar goes to … Professor Demetri Terzopoulos! Terzopoulos, a status-only professor in computer science and electrical and computer engineering, walked the red carpet and received a technical ach ...

Hands on high-tech moviemaking (w/ Video)

Feb 13, 2011

"Lights, camera, action!" is more than the quintessential phrase that describes the moment filming begins on a movie set -- it also embodies the heart and soul of moviemaking.

Roger Ebert, Jim Carrey among Webby Award winners

May 04, 2010

(AP) -- Though Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak after surgery for cancer, he has found a new and powerful voice online. The film critic was chosen as person of the year by the Webby Awards.

Recommended for you

Taking great ideas from the lab to the fab

10 hours ago

A "valley of death" is well-known to entrepreneurs—the lull between government funding for research and industry support for prototypes and products. To confront this problem, in 2013 the National Science ...

SR Labs research to expose BadUSB next week in Vegas

10 hours ago

A Berlin-based security research and consulting company will reveal how USB devices can do damage that can conduct two-way malice, from computer to USB or from USB to computer, and can survive traditional ...

User comments : 0