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Michael Sterling, Academy Executive and Technicolor Veteran, Dies at 61

Michael Sterling, associate director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ science and technology council since 2011, died on Dec. 18. He was 61. His cause of death was not disclosed.

A memorial will be held on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.

At AMPAS, Sterling was charged with technology initiatives advancing state-of-the-art in motion picture stage lighting, next-generation display technologies, and long-term archiving of digital motion pictures.

Before that, he was at Technicolor for 17 years. As director of client services for Technicolor Digital Cinema, he was a pioneer of digital cinema, instrumental in developing standards for studio-to-theater digital cinema delivery. He created the world’s first encrypted digital delivery system for the release of “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.”

Sterling also holds key patents in digital cinema for color accuracy, theater ID, and high-speed digital recording. He also consulted on entertainment technology for the National Film Board of Canada, Telic Global, and National TeleConsultants.

Sterling was born in Chicago and held a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois. He was a member of SMPTE and a Journal Author, also serving on the standards committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, as well as the British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society, the Society for Information Display, Society of Photographic and Imaging Engineers, Optical Society of America, European Digital Cinema Forum, and the Advanced Media Workflow Assn.

Among his varied interests were antique and modern watches and cameras, and he was devoted to his dog, Cinnamon. His was buried at a private service at Mt. Sinai on Dec. 26. He is survived by his mother, Min Sterling, and sister, Lianne Sterling Swanson.

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