Though the Academy usually saves the real fanfare to the creatives, engineers behind the scenes got their due at the 65th Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards, held Oct. 23 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles.
Sarah Shahi of CBS drama “Person of Interest” hosted the evening, and was sure to express her gratitude for the recipients who played an important role in her career.
“Thank you for making people like myself look like I know what I’m doing,” she said.
The first awards of the evening were the Engineering Plaques, honoring achievements that exhibit a high level of engineering and are important to the progress of the industry. The recipients were LAWO AG, one of the original manufacturers of audio networking technologies, and Final Draft, Inc., a screenwriting software application.
Marc Madnick, CEO and co-founder of Final Draft, accepted the award for the company, but not without throwing in some jest.
“I have dreamt about this moment since I was very young,” he said. “Except in my dream, I was getting an award for best writer. Lucky for me and a lot of other people, I wasn’t very good at it. So, like the old saying goes, those that can’t do, make software.”
Five Engineering Emmys were also awarded, going to YouTube, Aspera’s FASP Transport Technology, Josh C. Kline of Digital Dailies, iZotope’s RX Audio Repair Technology and Lightcraft Technology’s Previzion Virtual Studio System. When Kline, co-founder of Digital Dailies, which distributes production dailies and cuts via a web-based, streaming approach, accepted his Emmy, he was sure to thank his wife, who had seen plenty of the perils of her husband’s job.
“She can tell you what it looks like to sit next to someone on a ski lift providing tech support to a post-supervisor, or to watch someone pace back and forth on a deck in Hawaii in the middle of the night as they’re being barraged by a filmmaker who can’t figure out how to get the Windows Media plugin to load on his Macbook,” he joked.
Per the Hollywood cliché, he also provided his Emmy with a big smooch, to plenty of laughs.
June Lockhart presented YouTube with its award, while looking back at a cartoon from her “Lassie” days.
“I particularly enjoyed that old New Yorker cartoon where Timmy’s mom – that would be me – urgently beseeches Lassie to get help,” she explained. “Now in the next panel, where you’d expect to see Lassie pulling Timmy out of the well or something, Lassie is lying on a psychiatrist’s coach. Now, you see, the joke turns on the unexpected, and so does technology.”
She went on to recall how such a small beginning for YouTube exploded into a worldwide phenomenon, preceding a clip show detailing some of YouTube’s most memorable moments, Justin Bieber and “Gangnam Style” included.
A special honor, the Philo T. Farnsworth Award, which honors a company whose contributions have significantly impacted television technology and engineering, went to the Sennheiser Electronic Corporation. Founded in 1945, the company makes high-quality microphones, headphones, amplifiers and speakers that have become integral to Hollywood sound. CEOs Daniel and Andreas Sennheiser accepted the award, and Andreas pointed out how important quality sound is to their employees.
“Most of our employees, they suffer physically if they attend a show or performance which has poor audio,” he said. “If you would tap their vein, you would see their blood is blue. We have a couple of employees here in case you want to try that.”
The man of the hour, though, was Chris Cookson, president of Sony Pictures Technologies and member of the Engineering Awards Committee. He received the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, and got emotional when accepting the huge honor.
“Somebody asked me at the studio, ‘What’s the highlight of what you’ve been doing?’” he recalled. “And I had to stop and think about it, and there’s not a highlight. There couldn’t be just one. I think that what that made me realize is that the award maybe should be the Lifetime Opportunity Award.”
Award recipients were selected by a jury of television engineers.