Tech Oscars go soft over Pixar crew

Catmull, Cook and Carpenter get kudos for Renderman

HOLLYWOOD — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences made history by awarding the first Oscar ever to the makers of a computer software program at its recent Scientific & Technical Achievement Awards gala.

Pixar Animation Studios’ Ed Catmull, Rob Cook and Loren Carpenter received kudos at the March 3 ceremony for their work in developing the Renderman software program, which enables filmmakers to easily composite multiple computer-generated scenes with filmed footage.

Used by most f/x houses, Renderman has helped create visuals for “Jurassic Park,” “The Abyss,” “Forrest Gump,” “X-Men,” “The Matrix” and “Gladiator,” as well as Pixar’s own “Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2” and “A Bug’s Life.” The system had previously won recognition from the Sci-Tech committee in 1992. This Oscar is its developers’ first.

Actress Renee Zellweger hosted the black-tie event at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, describing each winner’s technology for the 17 awards handed out. Event was taped for inclusion in the March 25 Academy Awards kudocast, where Zellweger will introduce an abbreviated segment.

Irwin W. Young received the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for helping to bring numerous independent films to the screen through his Du Art Labs.

Snorkel cam

N. Paul Kenworthy Jr. was presented with the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation for career service. Kenworthy was the cinematographer of Disney’s 1953 nature docu “The Living Desert” and developed the miniature snorkel camera.

Manex Visual Effects’ George Borshukov, Kim Libreri and Dan Piponi received an Academy certificate for technical achievement for their work in developing a now frequently used f/x system, made popular by its use in “The Matrix” and musicvids, that allows camera movements to be choreographed through computer- and photo-reconstructed sets.

Paraform, which digitally scans humans for use in a film’s f/x sequences, was awarded a certificate. Its 3D technology has been used recently in “Hollow Man” and “X-Men.” Paraform software engineer Venkat Krishnamurthy accepted.

Vic Armstrong took home a certificate for the refinement of the Fan Descender, which controls the freefall of stuntmen. Philip Greenstreet of Rosco Laboratories also received a certificate for the development of the Roscolight Day/Night Backdrop, which provides day or night cityscapes for film or television shoots.

All awards had been previously announced. Winners were selected in December.

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