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Oscars for 15 sci-tech achievements

January 7, 2010 |  7:01 pm

3dglasses5121 Fifteen scientific and technical achievements, ranging from performance capture systems to photorealistic digital imagery and a host of 3D technology (a lot more developed than as depicted at left), will receive Scientific and Technical Academy Awards. The 46 individual recipients will honored at the annual awards presentation Feb. 20. 

Though the winning achievements may seem a bit like complex algebra to all but those in the industry who utilize them, each has made an impact on the entertainment business; Industrial Light and Magic's Imocap system brought to life the human-crustacean hybrids in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," while cutting-edge visual effects companies such as the Oscar-winning Weta Digital have sung the praises of the ARRISCAN film scanner. 

The 2010 winners differ from their predecessors in that they were not required to have been developed and introduced in 2009; instead, they had to show a proven track record of contributing "significant value" to the business of moviemaking.

The list of winners, along with a (much-needed) explanation of their workings, is after the break.

— Paul Gaita

The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are:

Technical Achievement Awards:

To Mark Wolforth and Tony Sedivy for their contributions to the development of 

the Truelight real-time 3D look-up table hardware system. 


 Through the use of color management software and hardware, this complete 

system enables accurate color presentation in the digital intermediate preview 

process.  The Truelight  system is widely utilized in digital intermediate production 

environments around the world. 


 To Dr. Klaus Anderle, Christian Baeker and Frank Billasch for their 

contributions to the LUTher 3D look-up table hardware device and color 

management software. 


The LUTher hardware was the first color look-up table processor to be widely 

adopted by the pioneering digital intermediate facilities in the industry.  This 

innovation allowed the facilities to analyze projected film output and build 3D look-up 

tables in order to emulate print film, enabling accurate color presentation. 


To Steve Sullivan, Kevin Wooley, Brett Allen and Colin Davidson for the 

development of the Imocap on-set performance capture system. 


Developed at Industrial Light & Magic and consisting of custom hardware and 

software, Imocap is an innovative system that successfully addresses the need for 

on-set, low-impact performance capture. 


To Hayden Landis, Ken McGaugh and Hilmar Koch for advancing the 

technique of ambient occlusion rendering. 


Ambient occlusion has enabled a new level of realism in synthesized imagery 

and has become a standard tool for computer graphics lighting in motion pictures. 


To Bjorn Heden for the design and mechanical engineering of the silent, two- 

stage planetary friction drive Heden Lens Motors. 


 Solving a series of problems with one integrated mechanism, this device had an 

immediate and significant impact on the motion picture industry.  

Scientific and Engineering Award:

To Per Christensen and Michael Bunnell for the development of point-based 

rendering for indirect illumination and ambient occlusion. 


 Much faster than previous ray-traced methods, this computer graphics technique 

has enabled color bleeding effects and realistic shadows for complex scenes in 

motion pictures. 


To Dr. Richard Kirk for the overall design and development of the Truelight real- 

time 3D look-up table hardware device and color management software. 

 This complete system enables accurate color presentation in the digital 

intermediate preview process. The Truelight system is widely utilized in digital 

intermediate production environments around the world. 

To Volker Massmann, Markus Hasenzahl, Dr. Klaus Anderle and Andreas 

Loew for the development of the Spirit 4K/2K film scanning system as used in the 

digital intermediate process for motion pictures. 


 The Spirit 4K/2K has distinguished itself by incorporating a continuous-motion 

transport mechanism enabling full-range, high-resolution scanning at much higher 

frame rates than non-continuous transport scanners. 


To Michael Cieslinski, Dr. Reimar Lenz and Bernd Brauner for the 

development of the ARRISCAN film scanner, enabling high-resolution, high-dynamic 

range, pin-registered film scanning for use in the digital intermediate process. 


 The ARRISCAN film scanner utilizes a specially designed CMOS array sensor 

mounted on a micro-positioning platform and a custom LED light source.  Capture of 

the film’s full dynamic range at various scan resolutions is implemented through sub- 

pixel offsets of the sensor along with multiple exposures of each frame. 


To Wolfgang Lempp, Theo Brown, Tony Sedivy and Dr. John Quartel for the 

development of the Northlight film scanner, which enables high-resolution, pin- 

registered scanning in the motion picture digital intermediate process. 


 Developed for the digital intermediate and motion picture visual effects markets, 

the Northlight scanner was designed with a 6K CCD sensor, making it unique in its 

ability to produce high-resolution scans of 35mm, 8-perf film frames. 



To Steve Chapman, Martin Tlaskal, Darrin Smart and James Logie for their 

contributions to the development of the Baselight color correction system, which 

enables real-time digital manipulation of motion picture imagery during the digital 

intermediate process. 


 Baselight was one of the first digital color correction systems to enter the digital 

intermediate market and has seen wide acceptance in the motion picture industry. 


 To Mark Jaszberenyi, Gyula Priskin and Tamas Perlaki for their contributions 

to the development of the Lustre color correction system, which enables real-time 

digital manipulation of motion picture imagery during the digital intermediate 



  Lustre is a software solution that enables non-linear, real-time digital color 

grading across an entire feature film, emulating the photochemical color-timing 


To Brad Walker, D. Scott Dewald, Bill Werner and Greg Pettitt for their 

contributions furthering the design and refinement of the Texas Instruments DLP 

Projector, achieving a level of performance that enables color-accurate digital 

intermediate previews of motion pictures. 

Working in conjunction with the film industry, Texas Instruments created a high- 

resolution, color-accurate, high-quality digital intermediate projection system that 

could closely emulate film-based projection in a theatrical environment. 


 To FUJIFILM CorporationRyoji NishimuraMasaaki Miki and Youichi 

Hosoya for the design and development of Fujicolor ETERNA-RDI digital 

intermediate film, which was designed exclusively to reproduce motion picture digital 



 The Fujicolor ETERNA-RDI Type 8511/4511 digital intermediate film has thinner 

emulsion layers with extremely efficient couplers made possible by Super-Nano 

Cubic Grain Technology.  This invention allows improved color sensitivity with the 

ability to absorb scattered light, providing extremely sharp images. The ETERNA- 

RDI emulsion technology also achieves less color cross-talk for exacting 

reproduction. Its expanded latitude and linearity provides superior highlights and 

shadows in a film stock with exceptional latent image stability.    

 To Paul Debevec, Tim Hawkins, John Monos and Mark Sagar for the design 

and engineering of the Light Stage capture devices and the image-based facial 

rendering system developed for character relighting in motion pictures. 


 The combination of these systems, with their ability to capture high fidelity 

reflectance data of human subjects, allows for the creation of photorealistic digital 

faces as they would appear in any lighting condition. 

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Seven films remain in the visual effects Oscar race, but can any beat "Avatar?"