Oscars’ Sci-Tech Awards Go to Animation, Rigging, Crane Systems

The awards will be handed out at the annual Sci-Tech Awards on February 10 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel

And the year’s first Oscars go to…

…the BlockParty procedural rigging system, the Premo character animation system, the Presto Animation System’s high-performance execution system, the Nuke compositing system and the mechanical design and integration of the Hydrascope telescoping camera crane systems.

Those are some of the scientific and technical accomplishments that will be honored at this year’s Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, the Academy announced on Thursday.

The awards will be given out at three different levels, with the top level — which carries with it an Academy Award statuette — going to Mark Elendt and Side Effects Software for the creation and development of the Houdini visual effects and animation system.

In addition, Jonathan Erland will receive the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, the highest honor the Academy bestows in the Sci-Tech arena.

The awards will be handed out at the annual Sci-Tech Awards on February 10 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

From the AMPAS release:

The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are:

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS (ACADEMY CERTIFICATES)

To Jason Smith and Jeff White for the original design, and to Rachel Rose and Mike Jutan for the architecture and engineering, of the BlockParty procedural rigging system at Industrial Light & Magic.

BlockParty streamlines the rigging process through a comprehensive connection framework, a novel graphical user interface, and volumetric rig transfer, which has enabled ILM to build richly detailed and unique creatures while greatly improving artist productivity.

To Joe Mancewicz, Matt Derksen and Hans Rijpkema for the design, architecture and implementation of the Rhythm & Hues Construction Kit rigging system.

This toolset provides a novel approach to character rigging that features topological independence, continuously editable rigs and deformation workflows with shape-preserving surface relaxation, enabling fifteen years of improvements to production efficiency and animation quality.

To Alex Powell for the design and engineering, to Jason Reisig for the interaction design, and to Martin Watt and Alex Wells for the high-performance execution engine of the Premo character animation system at DreamWorks Animation.

Premo’s speed and simplicity enable animators to pose full-resolution characters in representative shot context, significantly increasing their productivity.

To Rob Jensen for the foundational design and continued development, to Thomas Hahn for the animation toolset, and to George ElKoura, Adam Woodbury and Dirk Van Gelder for the high-performance execution engine of the Presto Animation System at Pixar Animation Studios.

Presto allows artists to work interactively in scene context with full-resolution geometric models and sophisticated rig controls, and has significantly increased the productivity of character animators at Pixar.

SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING AWARDS (ACADEMY PLAQUES)

To John Coyle, Brad Hurndell, Vikas Sathaye and Shane Buckham for the concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera System.

This innovative six-axis stabilized aerial camera mount, with its enhanced ability to frame shots while looking straight down, enables greater creative freedom while allowing pilots to fly more effectively and safely.

To Jeff Lait, Mark Tucker, Cristin Barghiel and John Lynch for their contributions to the design and architecture of the Houdini visual effects and animation system.

Houdini’s dynamics framework and workflow management tools have helped it become the industry standard for bringing natural phenomena, destruction and other digital effects to the screen.

To Bill Spitzak and Jonathan Egstad for the visionary design, development and stewardship of the Nuke compositing system.

Built for production at Digital Domain, Nuke has become a ubiquitous and flexible tool used across the motion picture industry, enabling novel and sophisticated workflows at an unprecedented scale.

To Abigail Brady, Jon Wadelton and Jerry Huxtable for their significant contributions to the architecture and extensibility of the Nuke compositing system.

Expanded as a commercial product at The Foundry, Nuke is a comprehensive, versatile and stable system that has established itself as the backbone of compositing and image processing pipelines across the motion picture industry.

To Leonard Chapman for the overall concept, design and development, to Stanislav Gorbatov for the electronic system design, and to David Gasparian and Souhail Issa for the mechanical design and integration of the Hydrascope telescoping camera crane systems.

With its fully waterproof construction, the Hydrascope has greatly advanced crane technology and versatility by enabling precise long-travel multi-axis camera movement in, out of and through fresh or salt water.

ACADEMY AWARD OF MERIT (OSCAR STATUETTE)

To Mark Elendt and Side Effects Software for the creation and development of the Houdini visual effects and animation system.

With more than twenty years of continual innovation, Houdini has delivered the power of procedural methods to visual effects artists, making it the industry standard for bringing natural phenomena, destruction and other digital effects to the screen.

GORDON E. SAWYER AWARD (OSCAR STATUETTE)

Jonathan Erland

Presented to an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.