The Academy Scientific & Technical Awards are often causally referred to as the “Sci-Tech Oscars,” but in fact most of the Sci-Tech awards are plaques and certificates, not Oscars. In some years, no Oscar statuettes are given at all.
In 2015, though, the Sci-Tech banquet will include the presentation of two actual Oscars. One is an Academy Award of Merit — the highest Sci-Tech Award bestowed by the Academy — to Dr. Larry Hornbeck for the invention of digital micromirror technology. The Digital Micromirror Device is at the core of DLP cinema projectors, which have become the standard of the industry.
The other Oscar is the Gordon E. Sawyer award, “given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.” The Sawyer Award is not given every year, but this year the Acad singled out sound expert David W. Gray, currently VP of global services and industry relations at Dolby Labs.
Hornbeck and Gray lead the list of some 21 scientific and technical achievements to be feted by the Academy. Of those, one is receiving an Academy Award of Commendation ( a special plaque); four are receiving Scientific & Engineering Awards (plaques) and 15 are receiving Technical Achievement Awards (certificates).
An achievement can receive every level of award, from Technical Achievement Award to an Award of Merit Oscar, should it endure and stand the test of time.
The Academy likes to award several achievements within a field at one time, and this year one such cluster is a trio of awards — Hornbeck’s Oscar, a Scientific and Engineering Award plaque and a Technical Achievement Award certificate — going to various people and achievements related to DLP, which has become a staple technology for both post-production and digital cinema projectors. Certificates are also going to two performance capture innovations, and to two CG software tools for creating digital trees and foliage.
This year’s Award of Commendation goes to Steven Tiffen, Jeff Cohen and Michael Fecik of the Tiffen Company for their work in developing dye-based filters that reduce infrared contamination when neutral-density filters are used with digital cameras. These filters allow cinematographers to work with digital cameras as they are used to doing with film.
Scientific and Engineering Awards go to:
- lain Neil for the optical design, and to Andre de Winter for the mechanical design, of the Leica Summilux-C series of lenses, known for their outstanding performance;
- Brad Walker, D. Scott Dewald, Bill Werner, Greg Pettitt and Frank Poradish for the design and refinement of the Texas Instruments DLP Cinema projection technology, which delivers accurate color in both post-production and cinemas;
- Ichiro Tsutsui, Masahiro Take, Mitsuyasu Tamura and Mitsuru Asano for the development of the Sony BVM-E Series Professional OLED Master Monitor, which delivers accurate playback on set;
- John Frederick, Bob Myers, Karl Rasche and Tom Lianza for the development of the HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display, used in feature animation and vfx studios.
Technical Achievement Awards go to:
- Peter Braun for the concept and development of the MAT-Towercam Twin Peek, a portable, remote-controlled, telescoping column that smoothly positions a camera up to 24 feet vertically;
- Robert Nagle and Allan Padelford for the Biscuit Jr. self-propelled, high-performance, drivable camera and vehicle platform;
- Harold Milligan, Steven Krycho and Reiner Doetzkies for the implementation engineering in the development of the Texas Instruments DLP Cinema digital projection technology.
- Cary Phillips, Nico Popravka, Philip Peterson and Colette Mullenhoff for the architecture, development and creation of the artist-driven interface of the Industrial Light & Magic Shape Sculpting System.
- Tim Cotter, Roger van der Laan, Ken Pearce and Greg LaSalle for the innovative design and development of the MOVA Facial Performance Capture system.
- Dan Piponi, Kim Libreri and George Borshukov for their pioneering work in the development of Universal Capture at ESC Entertainment.
- Marco Revelant for the original concepts and artistic vision, and to Alasdair Coull and Shane Cooper for the original architectural and engineering design, of the Barbershop hair grooming system at Weta Digital.
- Michael Sechrest for the modeling design and implementation, Chris King for the real-time interactive engineering, and Greg Croft for the user interface design and implementation of SpeedTree Cinema.
- Scott Peterson, Jeff Budsberg and Jonathan Gibbs for the design and implementation of the DreamWorks Animation Foliage System.
- Erwin Coumans for the development of the Bullet physics library, and to Nafees Bin Zafar and Stephen Marshall for the separate development of two large-scale destruction simulation systems based on Bullet.
- Brice Criswell and Ron Fedkiw for the development of the ILM PhysBAM Destruction System.
- Ben Cole for the design of the Kali Destruction System, to Eric Parker for the development of the Digital Molecular Matter toolkit, and to James O’Brien for his influential research on the finite element methods that served as a foundation for these tools.
- Magnus Wrenninge for leading the design and development of Field3D.
- Robert Bridson for early conceptualization of sparse-tiled voxel data structures and their application to modeling and simulation.
- Ken Museth, Peter Cucka and Mihai Alden for the creation of OpenVDB.
The Scientific and Technical Awards banquet will be held Feb. 7 at the Beverly Wilshire.