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Digital Oscars Awarded 109

Posted by timothy
from the film-geeks-with-jobs dept.
prostoalex writes "MSNBC covers the Academy's Scientific and Technical Awards, which generally take place before the Oscars, but recognize companies and individuals that helped the advancement of film-making with technology. This year's winners include DigiDesign, the creator of Pro Tools audio package, Bill Tondreau from Kuper Controls for robotic camera systems and Peter D. Parks, with a lifetime achievement award."
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Digital Oscars Awarded

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  • by Tandoori Haggis (662404) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:06PM (#8311095)
    in Hex or Binary?
  • Does software count? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Supp0rtLinux (594509) <Supp0rtLinux@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:06PM (#8311098)
    Too bad they make no mention of the rendering software(s), etc. used in films like LOTR and ROTK. Many times its the softwares that drive the new hardware discoveries and advancements as was the case with the movie Titanic. And with all the Linux rendering farms being used these days, I'd expect at least some mention of the softwares powering them.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Massive was not only nominated, but it won. Did you read the article?
      • Massive is not rendering software, but crowd-simulation software. As for rendering, that was most likely done in RenderMan, which has been around for forever and a day, and therefore has already garnered all the accolades it can long ago.
    • details (Score:5, Informative)

      by gearheadsmp (569823) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:12PM (#8311175)
      Among those honored with plaques were Kinoton GmbH for its high-speed studio projector; a team from Eastman Kodak Co. for developing an anti-static layer on film that survives processing; Stephen Regelous for developing Massive, the software used to create tens of thousands of warriors for the "Lord of the Rings" battle sequences; and a group of companies for their work in digital audio editing.

      Here it is, what little there is

    • mentions are often due to big/smart marketing staff/budget more than real merit

      Linux and others OS project are weak in this respect (even if things are improving). at least weaker than most propietary software organization

    • My bad... as many have pointed out, Massive won for my main rant... they won for rendering in ROTK. I guess I sped read a bit too fast. As the saying goes, "the devil is in the details".
      • Again, as someone already pointed out, Massive is an AI program that is used to direct large groups of CG models...it is not a rendering program. The rendering is done in something completely different, namely Renderman.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They don't mention it in the article but Massive [massivesoftware.com], the software used to do the battle scenes (amongst other things), won a Scientific and Engineering award:

      http://radio.weblogs.com/0102385/2004/01/29.html#a 509 [weblogs.com]
      http://www.oscars.org/scitech/2003/winners.html [oscars.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Technical Achievement or Scientific and Engineering awards have already been given to the authors (well, at least representatives) of most of the cg software you can think of. http://wwwdb.oscars.org/scitech_db/index.html
    • My professor, Dr. Steve Marschner, won one of the awards (with some colleagues) for his work on subsurface scattering. Its a shame they weren't mentioned in the article :(
    • Um, RTFA? It's towards the bottom:
      Among those honored with plaques were ... Stephen Regelous for developing Massive, the software used to create tens of thousands of warriors for the "Lord of the Rings" battle sequences ...
    • Also the winner have been known for more than a month:

      Scientific and Technical Achievements Honored with Academy Awards [oscars.org]

      Besides Massive there were 2 other software related. There was the initial subsurface scatteting research done at Stanford (the Henrik Wann Jensen paper from SIGGRAPH 2001), and the first practical application of subsurface scattering by Christophe Hery of ILM and Joe Letteri and Ken McGaugh of Weta (although both were at ILM prior to joining the Two Towers, the initail reserch was d

    • The rendering software for ROTK is Pixar's Renderman. [pixar.com] Ed Catmull, Rob Cook, and Lauren Carpenter received an oscar [pixar.com] for it in 2001. According to the site, "Pixar's RenderMan(R) was used in 35 of the last 39 films nominated for a Best Visual Effects Oscar(R) by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (2004)." An interesting feature article is in the IEEE Spectrum [ieee.org]
  • Jennifer Garner hosts to highlight the technological achievments that make her look better on camera. It's just a simple thanks that she has to give due to her lack of acting ability (have you seen Daredevil)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Jennifer Garner hosts to highlight the technological achievments that make her look better on camera

      Given how repulsive she looks on TV I'd say they must be using old ZX81s for the job...

    • It's a relative measure though, she was next to Ben Affleck so you have to grade on a curve.
    • I was there. It wasn't that great of a ceremony, as the average time to get a winner on stage was 5 minutes, since they were all refreshing their browsers like crazy to get a "Frist Psot".

      Some geek machismo thing, I guess.
    • Re:Jennifer Garner (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jfengel (409917)
      She's OK. I don't think one should base one's opinion of an actor on a single film. There's a lot between the actor's performance and you: script, direction, editing, cinematography, music. Even great actors can be made to look really stupid, and actors with no range can look good for a single movie with the right director (Jack Nicholson, anybody?)

      I've seen her in many other things. She doesn't have a vast range, but she's competent and pretty and she cries well on cue. She's got good charisma; that is,
  • by PimpDaddie (144603) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:07PM (#8311107)
    We all know that the real winners were all the geeks that got to hang with Jennifer Garner for the night. Yuh!
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:07PM (#8311112)
    He most certainly contributed to technology in films!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      McGiver? Is that the guy who runs around giving people stuff?

      Or did you mean MacGyver as in the show about a guy with duct tape?
    • by Eberlin (570874)
      Angus MacGyver rules, man! Then again, he's not much for technology -- he's actually rather low-tech when it comes to that stuff. Bond had gadgets while MacGyver had paperclips at its simplest, and "readily available household chemicals" at best.

      The Mac had a "do what you can with what you have" mentality which is still a good philosophy (especially for those folks who run Linux because XP's system requirements are too high for the hardware they still have).
    • Re:Where's McGiver? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ziggles (246540)
      McGiver? Who the hell is that? If you mean MacGyver that's the worst spelling of it I've ever seen. And it doesn't make any sense. What does MacGyver have to do with technology in films? He used very basic items in clever ways to get out of a jam. And it was a television show anyway.

      Although I did see this episode a couple nights ago where the Phoenix Foundation (which MacGyver worked for, in case you didn't know) was going to restore some old silent films. That's about as close as MacGyver came to
  • It is a shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnidentifiedCoward (606296) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:09PM (#8311133)
    It is a shame really that these people do not receive more recognition for their work. Their contribution is in some cases ground breaking. But since it is not "interesting" they do not get any air time.

    As anybody who uses Pro Tools will tell you, it is the end all be all when it comes to the audio spectrum. They defenitely deserved the recognition. And regardless of what you may think of LotR, you have to give props to the Massive project.

    Kudos to you.
    • But since it is not "interesting" they do not get any air time.

      You know what? You're right. We should put more uninteresting specials on TV so we can flood everyone's lives with stuff that's respectful instead of interesting.

      As a side note I would say that information on the people behind the technology and their accomplishments would actually be interesting, it just would not be flashy and it wouldn't be immediately clear that it's interesting.

      • I happen to agree. And you are right, it is not interesting to everybody, but IMHO, I think news worthy. But then again, someone else (and all his buddies) probably think otherwise.

        Networks have to make their money and I am sure Pepsi and Coke are fighting over the advertising rights to air a 30 second spot during the technical achievement awards. I can see it now...
        • Otherwise, boring, uninteresting, technobabbling nerd/geek who did something cool in a movie, but was not in it or in the credits, you
    • Re:It is a shame (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dilvie (713915)

      I have used protools. I think they deserved that recognition in the mid 90's, when they were really doing new and innovative things, but the most of their recent cool developments have happenned in the control equipment, rather than the software itself -- hell, protools on OS X was starting to look like vaporware to many of us, it took them so long to get it working.

      In the mean-time, many other companies have done a lot of cool stuff in the audio industry that actually is new and innovative, especially i

    • Re:It is a shame (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wasthere (753835) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @09:23PM (#8311748)
      The problem with the credit is it can belong to more than just the people getting named.

      3 Fairlight Instruments guys got awards too. One of them, Chris Alfred carried on from the work I (and a Chris Prall) did, but we don't get a mention... and we started it..

      See:
      http://www.users.bigpond.com/adriansbruce/ tech/
    • Re:It is a shame (Score:3, Interesting)

      It is too bad, but it will continue to be like this (as an afterthought or, more aptly, foreword) because movies are regarded primarily as "artistic achievements", when they are as much technical achievements.

      When people watch ROTK's technically amazing battle scenes the instinctive thought is how beautiful and lifelike and well-conceived the battle is and not necessarily how it was done (something most people don't give a thought to). It's all "Those Oliphants are kick-ass" and not "I wonder how many po
    • Re:It is a shame (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jim Starx (752545)
      As anybody who uses Pro Tools will tell you, it is the end all be all when it comes to the audio spectrum.

      Not quite. Anyone truly involved with the audio industry can tell you that while Pro Tools is amazing and many arguments can be made that it's the best DAW out there, it is far from being the end all be all. Pro Tools has one or two major flaws. Programs like Logic are arguably just as good or better and programs like Nuendo are catching up quickly. I love Pro Tools. I own it and I work in more t

      • Here's another vote for Nuendo. After working with Pro Tools for a while and dealing with it's quirks, Nuendo's take on things is refreshing.
    • props?

      why would it need props, is it about to collapse?

      do you ever think about the crap that you say and write or do you just repeat the things you here on TV and read on the web?
    • Protools set the standard for audio editing when graphics and multimedia were Mac oriented so they do deserve recognition. Now there are many other fine audio editing programs for both platforms so the impact Protools has is diminished.
  • what about? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by gearheadsmp (569823)
    Has Industrial Light & Magic produced anything to qualify for these awards? Or Pixar?
    • Re:what about? (Score:3, Informative)

      by cindy (19345)
      I'm not sure about ILM, but Pixar (Ed Catmull in particular) has won at least one of these awards for Renderman. (2001)
    • Christophe Hery of ILM won an award this year for his work on rendering realistic skin. ILM has won a number of other awards from the Academy for their technical work over the years; see the Oscars web site.

      Oscars web site, 2003 sci-tech winners [oscars.org]

      To Christophe Hery, Ken McGaugh and Joe Letteri for their groundbreaking implementations of practical methods for rendering skin and other translucent materials using subsurface scattering techniques.

      These groundbreaking techniques were used to create realisti
    • Pixar has a double handful of these, for Renderman, for digital film printers, and several others. Two of them (for designing Pixar's animation system and for the first digital compositing system) are on the mantle at my house.
    • ILM has won 23 Sci-Tech awards (not counting the RenderMan ones, which while the research was started when Pixar was still part of Lucasfilm , they werfe awarded after they spun off). Pixar has 3 per se, though as td pointed out some stuff they have won when they were still at Lucasfilm (particle systems, math principles of digital compositing, etc.).

      I list the ILM award, plus some done by poeple later that left here:

      ILM Academy Awards [ilmfan.com]

      Many other companies have won. Some of the Sci-Tech awards have

      • Only in very rare cases do we give awards to companies. We strive to identify the individuals most responsible for the innovation. That's why the technical awards are on Tom Duff's mantle and not in Pixar's boardroom.

        So, while you can say that people working at ILM won 23 Sci-Tech awards -- you can't say that ILM won 23 Sci-Tech awards.

        The only recent exceptions have been the Oscars (Awards of Merit) presented to Alias (for Maya) and to Avid. In these cases, it was impossible to reasonably assign credi
  • There are certainly some achievments of technology in movies that should be included in the Digital Oscar Hall of Fame 1. HAL 2. WOPR (WarGames) 3. the designers for Terminator 3 (Terminator boobies are now one of my top fantasies)
  • by Nakito (702386) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:14PM (#8311196)
    Filmmaking is technological by nature. Many filmmaking technologies are in the realms of mechanical engineering, optics, lighting, chemistry (e.g., film emulsions), model making, etc. I don't think it's very accurate to refer to the Academy Awards for technological achievements as the "Digital Oscars."
  • the guys from Digidesign deserve recognition - they are terriffic. Met them in 95 in LA at a conference. They were very helpful.
  • why protools? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dilvie (713915) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:16PM (#8311213) Homepage Journal

    Okay, digidesign has done some neat things recently, but the most notable are the cool digital control consoles that attach to software-based workstations.

    Digi was once widely recognized for building hardware that made mid-90's computers capable of audio feats that would not have been otherwise possible, but these days, there are a lot of other options, and protools is no longer an obvious choice over other software such as cubase sx, which has been very popular among smaller studios.

    I suppose the academy is really not very interested in the cool developments that have made it easier for the indie movie scene, such as the terrific, and very affordable Behringer Truth monitors, and small digital mixers that cost less than $2k, but sound better and buss signals easier than the $10k mixers of yester-year.

    I really think the coolest technical innovations in the movie and audio community recently have all been the ones that have made it easier to run a small studio out of your garage. I think that movement should be recognized a bit more by the academy.

    - Eric
    • Re:why protools? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by geekBass (665923)
      Being an avid Cubase SX user I totally agree. I guess it's more of a cultural thing where most of mainstream movie soundtrack people use protools. Though I recall Hans Zimmer saying he still uses Cubase VST 4.
    • None of the things you mention (Cubase, Behringer monitors, small digital mixers) are particularly targeted towards film editing work. While PT arguably isn't aswell, it has its roots in the post production field, and has still the most features for this task, and is hence the most widespread solution amongst film guys. Ever tried to do any non-music-related post production work (e.g. foley, SFX or similar sound editing) in Cubase or Logic? Yes, it works to a certain degree, but it certainly isn't as smooth
      • I'm afraid you've missed the point entirely. These awards should be used to recognize important milestones in technological development. Digidesign has not done anything in the last year that could really qualify as an important milestone -- at least, not anything they haven't done before.

        The developments that have been literally transforming the industry, lowering the barrier to entry in the movie production field, have been all but ignored by the awards.

  • Henrik Wann Jensen (Score:5, Informative)

    by ankit (70020) * on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:17PM (#8311224) Homepage Journal
    Henrik Wann Jensen [ucsd.edu] (one of the winners) is a professor at UCSD. He has had numerous contributions to the area of Computer Graphics, including Photon Maps, Subsurface Scatterring, etc. Some of the animations [ucsd.edu] and images [ucsd.edu] of of his work are trully amazing.
  • Why no Bill Gates? He created a revolution in computer technology.
  • Corrections (Score:4, Informative)

    by fuzzy12345 (745891) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:45PM (#8311425)
    They ARE Oscars, just not the glitzy ones that the media covers. Sometimes software wins, sometimes hardware (e.g. innovative camera systems, mounts, sound equipment etcetera).
    • Re:Corrections (Score:3, Informative)

      They're not Oscars. In special circumstances an Oscar will be awarded for technical achievement but generally you get a small plaque or a certificate. Admittedly my certificate does have a picture of an Oscar on it but it most definitely isn't actually one.
      • Yup. To get an Oscar you need to be Ray Harryhausen or have invented the telephoto lens. Things like that. The little plaques are pretty cool, though.
        • I meant to add. Technical achievement awards come with a little handbook explaining exactly what you are allowed to call them. The Academy have control over this because Oscar and various oher terms are in fact trademarks.
  • by vicparedes (701354) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:47PM (#8311440)
    for Best Performance in an Online Feature.
  • by Dr. Ion (169741) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @09:06PM (#8311598)
    Seriously, is there any other industry that does as much back-patting and self-stroking as Hollywood?

    These are some seriously affirmation-hungry groups that just live for the moment to tell everyone "what a great opportunity it was to work with such a great professional" blah blah.

    Soon they're going to have a hard time fitting any new "content" in between the award shows.
  • What about Andy?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lurgen (563428) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @09:47PM (#8311905) Journal
    The story doesn't list everybody who was honoured, but I'm guessing Andy Serkis got missed again. Surely he contributed toward digital effects in film in numerous ways over the last few years, yet consistently gets overlooked. Sure, he isn't a techie, and he didn't invent the concepts as such, but he's the only actor who has taken a digital character to such extreme lengths?

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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