Eastman Kodak vet Roderick T. Ryan picked up an Oscar on Saturday night for his technological contributions to the film industry at the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
During the black-tie award ceremony’s 70th anniversary, Ryan, a 40-year Kodak vet who served for many years as its engineering services regional director, joined Gregory Peck, George Eastman and Thomas Edison as one of the few recipients of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award who have not been cinematographers.
“Nobody does this sort of thing by themselves,” Ryan said. “Thank you for this honor. I will really treasure it.”
Ryan won a medal of commendation in 1990 and a scientific and engineering award in 1981. Fifteen awards for scientific and technical achievement were handed out at the ceremony. In all, 26 individuals were feted, far fewer than last year’s 88.
Actress Salma Hayek hosted the event and, for someone for whom English is a second language, she did her best to describe the technical workings of microphone covers, camera viewfinders and sound mixing boards, while trying to keep the evening light.
“Every time I make a mistake, pretend you’re me and think that you’re up here doing this in Spanish,” she said.
After presenting an award to Richard Sehlin, Mitchell Bogdanowicz and Mary Schmoeger of Kodak for the Eastman lamphouse modification filter, Hayek quipped, “There may be some things I may not be able to explain to you. This is one of them.”
Awards are determined by the Academy board of governors, based on recommendations from the Sci-Tech awards committee. There were 19 innovations under consideration “for devices, methods, formulas, discoveries or inventions of special and outstanding value to the arts and sciences of motion pictures and that have a proven history of use in the motion picture industry.”
All awards had been announced previously (Daily Variety, Jan. 5). Winners were selected in December.
Barry M. Stultz and Milton Jan Friedman accepted the Academy’s fourth-ever Award of Commendation for FPC’s environmentally responsible program to recycle or destroy discarded film prints.
Edmund Di Giulio (former chairman of AMPAS’ sci-tech awards committee) and Takuo Miyagishima were presented with the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, both receiving standing ovations.
Named after the late helmer of special projects at Warner Hollywood Studios, the Bonner Medal is awarded to tech professionals for career service and dedication to the Academy.
Di Giulio is founder and prexy of Cinema Products Corp., and the brains behind the Steadicam. He has picked up three previous Sci-Tech nods, most recently in 1998.
During his 44-year stint as a Panavision design engineer, Miyagishima has won two Oscars (1978, 1993), the Fuji Gold Medal (1991) and two Sci-Tech awards in 1998. “When I received the letter from Robert Rehme (prexy of the Academy Board of Governors), I thought it was a joke,” Miyagishima said. “My contributions I hope have brought some happiness into someone’s life in the world.”
Among other recipients, Nat Tiffen of Tiffen Manufacturing Corp. received a plaque for the production of high-quality laminated color filters for motion picture photography.
“This is better than the Oscars. The acceptance speeches are shorter and you people are funnier than actors,” Hayek said. “I am honored for all of you but I just wish one of you geniuses were named Joe Smith.”
The event was taped for inclusion in the March 26 Academy Awards broadcast, when Hayek will introduce an abbreviated segment.