| BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Feb 15 From the inventors
of the pneumatic car flipper to the software developers who
replaced clay modeling with digital sculpture, dozens of
behind-the-scenes cinematic innovators turned out on Saturday to
receive recognition from the film industry.
Two weeks before the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences handed out its Scientific and Technical
Achievement Awards for the visual effects behind groundbreaking
films such as "Avatar", "Life of Pi" and "Gravity".
While the Academy Awards on March 2 will reward films
released in 2013, the yearly scientific and technical awards
honor contributions to filmmaking for innovations that developed
over years and even decades.
This year, the Academy gave certificates or plaques to 52
individuals for 19 scientific and technical achievements, and
two golden Oscar statuettes as well as a medal of commendation.
Joshua Pines, who got his award for color correction
technology, called it "the Winter Olympics for geeks".
One of the first awards of the night went to the men behind
the pneumatic car flipper used in films including "Independence
Day" and "Total Recall". As films moved off movie sets and into
real places such as downtown Los Angeles, they had to develop a
method to safely and reliably launch cars.
"We had to know exactly where cars were going to land when
we launched them," said prize winner John Frazier.
Awards were also given for the flying camera that can be
programmed to whizz through a house with exact precision and for
the Helicam miniature helicopter camera system.
Hosted by actors Michael B. Jordan and Kristen Bell, star of
mystery drama "Veronica Mars", the ceremony saw many awards for
digital filmmaking software, such as deep compositing, which
allows image layering and gives depth to the final film.
Another winner, Eric Veach, earned a scientific and
engineering award for his research years ago that has helped
transform computer graphics lighting used in films including
Veach said he was amazed that "some people had read my
thesis and are using it to make movies".
Honorees also came from places beyond Hollywood, including
Silicon Valley and New Zealand, the home of "Hobbit" director
Peter Jackson's Weta Digital visual effects company, the
employer of several of the night's winners.
Technology innovators from Dreamworks Animation, Pixar
Animation Studios, Walt Disney Co and Warner Bros also won
awards, and most everyone thanked their spouses for putting up
with incredibly long working days.
One of the golden Oscar statuettes went to visual effects
supervisor and director of photography Peter Anderson, a 3-D
expert, for his technological contributions to the industry.
"Without the science, what would the art be? And without the
art, what would the science be?," he said.
The other statuette went to a collective of "all those who
built and operated film laboratories, for over a century of
service to the motion picture industry".
In a room full of digital supremos, the nod to the tradition
of making movies on film was received with cheers.