×

Academy’s Sci-Tech Awards Honor Motion Graphics, Facial Capture Technology, Adobe

Ahead of this year’s hostless Oscars, the Motion Picture Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards, held Saturday night, proved it was possible to have an uncontroversial, enjoyable ceremony…complete with an emcee.

The Sci-Tech Awards honor technological innovators from the film industry who are rarely seen in front of the camera. The evening’s master of ceremonies, actor David Oyelowo, kept the mood light by lauding the tech award show over the Oscars and connecting with the honorees over the common mispronunciation of their foreign last names.

“These are the real unsung heroes of moviemaking, and I just love how selfless they are,” Oyelowo told Variety. “These guys spend tireless amounts of hours perfecting the things that make movies great. It’s a real honor to get to serve them tonight.”

Honorees were previously announced in December after being chosen by the Academy for their groundbreaking contributions to filmmaking and special effects. Three levels of awards—certificates, plaques and statuettes—were given to achievements that have made a significant impact over time.

Held at the Beverly Wilshire ballroom on Saturday, the ceremony recognized innovators in motion graphics, animation editing and facial capture technology. Special effects seen in nearly every CGI blockbuster, like “Avatar,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” would not be possible without these Sci-Tech revolutionaries. Marvel fans can thank the Medusa Performance Capture System and Light Stage X for the realistic faces on Thanos and the Hulk. Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, two of the most recognizable editing softwares, also took home Academy plaques.

Popular on Variety

Cinematographer Curtis Clark, who worked on films such as “The Draughtsman’s Contract” and “Alamo Bay,” was honored with the John A. Bonner Award.

It’s a collective effort. I can only inspire and encourage and lead,” he told Variety. “I’m not a technologist, I’m a filmmaker that understands technology. I have a tremendous respect for the Academy and Scientific Council. It was a very satisfying endorsement of what we’ve been doing.”

Ed Catmull, co-founder and former president of Pixar, took home a plaque for subdivision surfaces in 3D animation. He pioneered the way characters look in animated movies. Lightning McQueen in “Cars” and Russell from “Up” would not look as smooth and lifelike without Catmull’s work.

We’re doing things that are so phenomenal and amazing that most of the world looks at it and they don’t even think about what it is,” Catmull told Variety. “It’s been amazing to be a part of this industry as it’s changed. What we do here affects people around the world, not just in the stories, but inspiring young people to look at technology and programming and realize there’s something pretty deep behind this.”

With eyes now on the Oscars on Feb. 24, many wonder how the hostless ceremony will turn out. Oyelowo and Catmull both said they were looking forward to the format.

“I’ve always been an advocate that the Academy should do something different every year,” Catmull said. “This industry is built upon the fact that every year we change something. Change the way we celebrate. It’s OK. It’s good.”

More Film

  • Kevin Hart'Jumanji: The Next Level' film

    Kevin Hart to Star in Action-Comedy from 'Broad City' Alums (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures is developing an untitled action-comedy based on an original idea from “Broad City’s” Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs with Kevin Hart attached to star. Aniello and Downs will write the script as well as executive produce. Malcolm D. Lee is on board to direct the film with Will Packer and James Lopez [...]

  • Jeremy Saulnier John Boyega

    Netflix Sets Ensemble for Jeremy Saulnier's 'Rebel Ridge' Starring John Boyega (EXCLUSIVE)

    Don Johnson, James Badge Dale, Zsane Jhe, James Cromwell and “The Crown” breakout Erin Doherty are set to join John Boyega in Netflix’s “Rebel Ridge,” a thriller from “Green Room” writer-director Jeremy Saulnier, Variety has learned. Like the 2013 crime drama “Green Room,” Saulnier’s upcoming movie is said to be a high-velocity thriller that explores [...]

  • The Indoraptor prepares to strike in

    'Jurassic World 3' Director Announces New Title

    Director Colin Trevorrow announced via Twitter on Tuesday that “Jurassic World 3” has started principal production, and he also slyly revealed that the sixth film in the “Jurassic” franchise has a new title: “Jurassic World: Dominion.” The new title — which appears on the slate for the film in Trevorrow’s tweet — evokes the biblical [...]

  • Chuat Reymond

    Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond on Berlin’s ‘My Little Sister’

    Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond’s “My Little Sister” (“Schwesterlein”) premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Tuesday to strong critical and audience receptions, with particular praise heaped on lead actors Nina Hoss and Lars Eidinger. In his Variety review, Guy Lodge praised: “This is bright, unaffected naturalism with a fluidly roving camera, but also a [...]

  • Miriam Haley and Tarale Wulff

    Women Who Testified in Harvey Weinstein Trial Slam His Lawyers for 'Victim Blaming' 

    Six women testified during the Harvey Weinstein rape trial, and now that the former movie mogul was found guilty of two felony charges, those women are speaking out with newfound freedom. Miriam Haley, who was assaulted by Weinstein in 2006, resulting in him being convicted of a criminal sex act (which carries a maximum sentence [...]

  • E. L. James

    Movie Rights to 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Author's 'The Mister' Land at Universal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following the massive success of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, Universal and author E. L. James are reteaming on the scribe’s next novel as the studio has optioned the rights to “The Mister,” James’ 2019 best-selling romance. Rights for the book, which recently hit the market, sparked a heated bidding war. James, who produced [...]

  • Bad Tales

    'Bad Tales': Film Review

    At a surprise party for his daughter, a randy Italian homeowner studies a neighbor’s wife through the sliding glass door and describes all the ways he’d like to violate her. In the bathroom, his 14-year-old son sits with his best friend, studying the hardcore porn sites listed in the browsing history of Dad’s cellphone. A [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content