Motion Picture Academy Hands Out Sci-Tech Awards

Laika Animation Studio 10 Year Anniversary
Courtesy Laika/Focus Features

Honors recognize achievements in film techology

Recipients of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual Scientific and Technical Awards may be mostly engineers and physicists, but it was the chemistry between Jason Segel and Olivia Munn that carried the night on Saturday as the Oscar-granting org gave out honors for achievement in the disciplines that underpin the entire movie industry.

The duo lightened up the geek factor in the room by departing from the teleprompter script and injecting humor – intended and not – into the proceedings.

No surprises ever take place at the Sci-Tech Awards, as the recipients are announced in advance – this year on January 8. Academy leaders Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Dawn Hudson were both on hand for the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.

The Academy recognized 10 scientific and technical achievements, which were handed out to 33 recipients. Two of these earned Academy Plaques, or Scientific and Engineering Awards, and eight earned Academy certificates, or Technical Achievement Awards.

One of the plaques went to Brian McLean and Martin Meunier of Portland, Oregon animation house Laika “for pioneering the use of rapid prototyping for character animation in stop-motion film production.”

Stop-motion specialist Laika has been the powerhouse behind such pics as “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “The Boxtrolls.” Nike chairman Phil Knight is a co-founder of the studio, and his son Travis, pictured above, is president.

The other plaque was received by Jack Greasley, Kiyoyuki Nakagaki, Duncan Hopkins and Carl Rand for the design and engineering of the MARI 3D texture painting system, which is widely used in the visual effects industry.

The evening ended with the presentation of a special award to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers on the org’s 100th anniversary. SMPTE sets standards in both film and TV. The award recognized a century of contributions to the advancement of motion picture standards and technology.

SMPTE prexy and CBS exec Robert Siedel, and SMPTE executive director Barbara Lange, accepted the honor.

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