Lens, color systems nab tech Oscars

Panavision Inc. will take home an Oscar statuette for a camera lens system that reduces close-up distortion in widescreen filming, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced on Tuesday. The other winners of Oscar statuettes for scientific and technical achievements are Manfred G. Michelson of Technical Film Systems Inc., for a fast, money-saving color processing system, and motion picture scientist Petro Vlahos, the previously announced winner of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award.

The awards, voted by the Academy board of governors based on recommendations from the scientific and technical awards committee, chaired by Edmund M. Di Giulio, will bepresented Feb. 26 at ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The Scientific and Technical Awards are given for devices, methods, formulas, discoveries or inventions of special and outstanding value to the arts and sciences of motion pictures that also have a proven history of use in the motion picture industry.

The highest honor is an Academy Award of Merit, which includes an Oscar statuette, for basic achievements that influence the advancement of the industry. The Oscar winners are:

o Panavision Inc. for the Auto Panatar anamorphic photographic lens, which originally received a Scientific and Engineering Award in 1958. The Auto Panatar is a complete motion picture camera lens system containing both the prime and anamorphotic elements, which substantially reduce photographic lateral distortion and thereby improve closeup quality and definition.

o Manfred G. Michelson of Technical Film Systems Inc. for the design and development of the first sprocket-driven film transport system for color print film processors, which permits transport speeds in excess of 600 feet per minute , which originally received a Scientific and Engineering Award in 1990. This film transport system has had significant impact on the design of film processors and on the economics of the film processing industry.

Vlahos, who won an Academy Award in 1964 for his development of traveling matte systems, has been named to receive the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technical contributions that bring credit to the industry (Daily Variety, Dec. 20).

Two advancements were honored with Scientific and Engineering Award plaques:

  • Mark Leather, Les Dittert, Douglas Smythe and George Joblove for the concept and development of the Digital Motion Picture Retouching System for removing visible rigging and dirt from original motion picture imagery.

  • Fritz Gabriel Bauer for the design, development and manufacture of the Moviecam Compact Modular 35mm motion picture camera system, which features quiet operation, light weight and versatility.

Five Technical Achievement Award certificates will be handed out for accomplishments that contribute to the progress of the industry:

  • Wally Mills for the concept and Gary Stadler and Gustave Parada for the design of the Cinemills Lamp Protection System, which provides a process that prevents the early failure of 20-kilowatt lamps by maintaining essentially uniform current flow to the lamp filament as it heats and changes resistance.

  • Gary Nuzzi, David Johnsrud and William Blethen for the design and development of the Unilux H3000 Strobe Lighting System, a high-speed system that generates a high intensity light pulse with a duration of only 1100,000 of a second, the effect of which is to freeze an object moving at a high rate of speed so it can be photographed with extraordinary sharpness.

  • Harry J. Baker for the design and development of Ronford-Baker Metal Tripods for motion picture photography.

  • Michael Dorrough for the design and development of the compound meter known as the Dorrough Audio Level Meter.

  • David Degenkolb for the development of a Silver Recovery Ion Exchange System to eliminate hazardous silver ion waste in development wash water and allow recycling of the water.
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