Academy Names Sci-Tech Winners

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the 15 winners of Scientific and Technical Academy Awards. Recognizing technological advances to the process of making motion pictures, the offshoot of the Oscars will be presented at the Beverly Wilshire hotel on Saturday, Feb. 10. Among this year’s winning achievements are four products designed for use in visual effects.

Unlike other Academy Awards recipients, scientific and technical achievements do not have to have been developed and introduced during 2006. Awards are divided into two categories. Technical Achievement winners will receive Academy certificates while Scientific and Engineering winners will be given Academy plaques.

Florian Kainz will be granted a Technical Achievement Award for the design and engineering of OpenEXR, a software package implementing 16-bit, floating-point, high dynamic range image files. OpenEXR has been widely adopted by the visual effects industry for its ability to provide for lossless and lossy compression of tiered and tiled images.

Academy plaques will handed out to Peter Litwinowicz and Pierre Jasmin for the design and development of the RE: Vision Effects family of software tools for optical flow-based image manipulation. Many visual effects studios have worked REL Vision Effects products for their unique user interface and relatively low cost.

Steve Sullivan, Colin Davidson, Max Chen and Francesco Callari will also receive a scientific and Engineering Award for the design and development of the ILM Image-based Modeling System. Academy notes state, ‘This highly integrated system facilitates interactive construction and editing of 3D models from digital photographs and addresses the three-dimensional scanning needs of motion pictures in unique and innovative ways.’

Also being recognized for scientific and engineering achievement are Dr. Bill Collis, Simon Robinson, Ben Kent and Anil Kokaram for the design and development of the Furnace integrated suite of software tools that utilizes temporal coherence for enhancing visual effects in motion picture sequences. According to the Academy jury, the toolset’s modularity, flexibility and robustness have set a high standard of quality for optical flow-based image manipulation.

As previously reported, Oscar-winning visual effects producer and supervisor Richard Edlund (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark) will be honored with the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation at this year’s awards black-tie dinner, taking place at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles. Segments of the ceremony will be featured during ABC’s telecast of the 79th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 25. To see a full list of Scientific & Technical Awards winners, go to