Academy to Honor Blue-screen Pioneer Widmer

Arthur Widmer, who was a significant contributor to the development of the Ultra Violet and bluescreen compositing processes, will receive a special Award of Commendation when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the Scientific and Technical Awards in February.

“Art’s pioneering work has had a profound impact on the film industry,” says Richard Edlund, chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee. “In fact, many of the films we hold dear would not have been possible without his contributions to image compositing technology.”

Widmer began his work with the Ultra Violet Traveling Matte process while at Warner Bros., where he also developed and refined technologies for other motion picture processes including 3D and wide screen. He was later hired by Universal Studios to design and build an optical department, where he researched many developments in blue-screen technology and optical printing.

In addition to pioneering compositing technology that would later make films like Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings trilogy possible, Widmer continuously explored new techniques to further enhance the quality of images on film. During his tenure at Eastman Kodak, he researched a variety of new methods of color photography, including Kodachrome. In the late 1940s, he was involved in introducing Eastman Color Negative and Color Positive to the motion picture industry.

The Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical Achievements will be presented at a gala black tie dinner on Saturday, Feb.12, at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif.