Academy names Sci-Tech honors

Camera and rendering technologies cited

Suspended camera systems and new rendering technology were prominent among the 10 achievements, represented by 22 individuals, that will receive Scientific and Technical Academy Awards this year.

In addition, the org’s top sci-tech honor for an individual will go to film camera pioneer Denny Clairmont.

The Academy’s Sci-Tech Awards are given for inventions that need not have been developed or introduced in the previous year. The recipients must “have demonstrated a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures,” per the Academy.

Kudos will be awarded at the Academy’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation at the Beverly Wilshire on Saturday, Feb. 12.

Clairmont will receive the Academy’s John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation.

In 1976, Clairmont, along with his brother Terry, co-founded Clairmont Camera, a rental company that has facilitated the exchange of ideas between camera users and manufacturers, helping to bring new features and products to the marketplace.

“For more than three decades, Denny has been at the forefront of camera technology, helping cinematographers, camera assistants and film students with evolving technologies and related equipment,” Academy prexy Tom Sherak said.

A member of the Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards Committee since 1993, Clairmont has served for several years on that and numerous other subcommittees.

Named in honor of the late director of special projects at Warner Hollywood Studios, the John A. Bonner Medal is awarded for “outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.”

In addition to the medallion given to Clairmont, the Academy will award plaques and certificates. The following will receive plaques:

n Dr. Mark Sagar for his early and continuing development of facial motion retargeting systems, which transform facial motion capture data into an expression-based, editable character animation system.

n Mark Noel and John Frazier for their contributions to the NAC Servo Winch System, which allows full-size cars, aircraft and other heavy props to be flown on wireswith freedom of motion and a high degree of safety, on-set and in real time.

n James Rodnunsky, Alex MacDonald and Mark Chapman for the development of the Cablecam 3-D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies, which make it possible to move a camera safely and accurately through a three-dimensional space.

n Tim Drnec, Ben Britten Smith and Matt Davis for the development of the Spydercam 3D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies, which allow operators to move cameras safely and accurately through a three-dimensional space.

Those individuals receiving certificates include the following:

n Greg Ercolano for the design and engineering of a series of software systems culminating in the Rush render queue management system, enabling scalable render farms.

n David M. Laur for the development of the Alfred render queue management system, which supports multi-machine assignments.

n Chris Allen, Gautham Krishnamurti, Mark A. Brown and Lance Kimes for the development of Queue, a scalable approach to render queue management that allows for statistical analysis and process introspection, providing a framework for the efficient use of render farms.

n Florian Kainz for the design and development of the robust, scalable distributed architecture of the ObaQ render queue management system.

n Eric Tabellion and Arnauld Lamorlette for the creation of a computer graphics bounce lighting methodology that is practical at feature-film scale, first used on “Shrek 2.”

n Tony Clark, Alan Rogers, Neil Wilson and Rory McGregor for the software design and continued development of cineSync, a tool for remote collaboration and review of visual effects.

Portions of the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation will be incorporated into the televised Oscar ceremony to be held Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.

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