Academy Honours Ten Achievements with Scientific and Technical Awards

Academy sci tech houdini

Developers from Side Effects Software are receiving an Academy Award of Merit and a Scientific and Engineering Award for  the Houdini visual effects and animation system.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will honour 10 scientific and technical achievements at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on 10 February 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

These achievements are represented by 34 individual award recipients, and one organization, Further to these awards, visual effects technologist Jonathan Erland will receive the Gordon E Sawyer Award, an Oscar statuette, for technological contributions that have brought credit to the industry.

Unlike other Academy Awards presented each year, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards have not necessarily been developed and introduced during 2017. Instead, they demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.

The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are awarded in three categories - Technical Achievement Awards receiving Academy Certificates, Scientific and Engineering Awards receiving Academy Plaques and an Academy Award of Merit, receiving an Oscar Statuette.

Technical Achievement Awards

Jason Smith and Jeff White are awarded for the original design, and 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, an innovative GUI and volumetric rig transfer, which ILM has used to build highly detailed, original creatures and to simultaneously improve artist productivity.

Joe Mancewicz, Matt Derksen and Hans Rijpkema receive an award for the design, architecture and implementation of the Rhythm & Hues Construction Kit rigging system. The system represents a new approach to character rigging that incorporates topological independence and continuously editable rigs, and uses deformation workflows with shape-preserving surface relaxation. It has supported 15 years of improvements to the studio's production efficiency and animation quality.

Alex Powell for the design and engineering, Jason Reisig for the interaction design, and Martin Watt and Alex Wells for the high-performance execution engine, have all been awarded for their work on the Premo character animation system at DreamWorks Animation. Animators use Premo, which is fast and straightforward, to pose full-resolution characters in representative shot context, significantly increasing the artists' productivity.

Academy sci tech shotover k1

The concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera System receives a Scientific and Engineering Award. 

An Award goes 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. It has significantly increased the productivity of character animators at Pixar.

Scientific and Engineering Awards

John Coyle, Brad Hurndell, Vikas Sathaye and Shane Buckham are to be recognised for the concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera System, a six-axis stabilized aerial camera mount. It is able to frame shots while looking straight down, allowing crews greater creative freedom while allowing pilots to fly more effectively and safely.

Jeff Lait, Mark Tucker, Cristin Barghiel and John Lynch receive an award for their contributions to the design and architecture of the Houdini visual effects and animation system. The dynamics framework and workflow management tools in Houdini have led to its position as critical software for bringing natural phenomena, destruction and other digital effects to the screen.

Bill Spitzak and Jonathan Egstad are awarded for the design, development and stewardship of the Nuke compositing system. Originally built for production at Digital Domain, Nuke has become a flexible tool used for many types of work across the motion picture industry, making new and sophisticated workflows possible at a large number of studios.

An award also goes to Abigail Brady, Jon Wadelton and Jerry Huxtable for their significant contributions to the architecture and extensibility of the Nuke compositing system. Extensively developed as a commercial product at The Foundry, Nuke is a comprehensive, versatile, stable system that has established itself as the core component of compositing and image processing pipelines across the motion picture industry.

Leonard Chapman is to be awarded for the overall concept, design and development, Stanislav Gorbatov for the electronic system design, and David Gasparian and Souhail Issa for the mechanical design and integration of the Hydrascope telescoping camera crane systems. With a completely waterproof construction, the Hydrascope has advanced crane applications and versatility by enabling precise long-travel multi-axis camera movement in, out of and through fresh or salt water.

Academy Award of Merit

This award recognises Mark Elendt and Side Effects Software for the creation and development of the Houdini visual effects and animation system, after more than 20 years of continuous innovation. Houdini makes procedural methods accessible to visual effects artists everywhere, helping them simulate highly realistic and dramatic natural phenomena, destruction and other digital effects in screen work of all types.

Gordon E Sawyer Award

Jonathan Erland will receive an Oscar statuette in recognition of his technological contributions that have brought credit to the motion picture industry.

The 90th Oscars Awards ceremony will be held on 4 March 2018 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network, as well as in more than 225 countries and territories around the world.