And the Oscar Goes To the Movie Industry Techies
The winners of this year's Scientific & Technological Academy Awards.
CREDIT: The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences
For all the techies who felt they never got the credit they deserved, the 83rd Scientific and Technological Academy Awards can provide hope. The ceremony honors the hard work and technological advances without which the movies nominated for awards this Sunday could not have been made.
The winning technologies included the development of a program that enabled the facial animation in Avatar and Benjamin Button, and two different suspended camera systems, which made it possible for cameras to take to the air for shots in action films like Iron Man 2.
Mark Sagar of Weta Digital won for his development of influential facial motion retargeting solutions. This process enables the digital capture of emotion on the faces of actors that can later be animated with a high degree of realism.
Sagar developed the program by studying human emotions. He worked with psychologists to "study the universality of human emotion [that] provides a way of studying expression, based on what muscle groups in the face are active essentially providing an alphabet of facial expression," Sagar said.
"The new facial retargeting techniques which the award recognizes analyze an actor's performance for its expressions and then map these onto corresponding expressions on a digital character. The face can be completely different and the essence of the performance still comes through in a meaningful way," Sagar told InnovationNewsDaily.
Two separate companies won for suspended camera technologies: Cablecam and Spydercam. Both systems allow cameras to fly with consistency, smoothness and follow a programmable path at heights that were previously impossible to reach.
The Spydercam system works with a rigging system similar to the way the cameras you see flying over the field at football games do.
"I think these systems are reaching a level of maturity now where they will be regarded less as a very special tool that is only brought in for a specific, 'special' shot, and more like any other general piece of movie-making gear," Drnec told InnovationNewsDaily. "In the same way a crane or dolly or Steadicam is just one more arrow in the movie maker's quiver."
A few portions of the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation will be incorporated into the 83rd Oscar ceremony on Feb. 27.