Sony's Kazuo Hirai Accepts Lifetime Achievement Technology and Engineering Emmy

Kazuo Hirai - H 2015

"Despite some of you maybe having to put up with canceled flights ... or crying inlaws, I can assure you, you all had a better holiday season than I did," said Sony Corp.'s president and CEO Kazuo Hirai, receiving a laugh and warm applause from hundreds in the engineering community as he accepted a lifetime achievement award during the 66th annual Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards.

MPAA president Chris Dodd presented the award during the ceremony, held Thursday during CES at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Describing Hirai as a “21st century creator and innovator," Dodd said, “We are aware of the difficult days Sony has been through. I believe that Kazuo’s vision and leadership are an inspiration and I can’t imagine a better leader for the company at this time."

Hirai received a standing ovation as he accepted the award. "Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of association are the lifeblood of this industry and Sony," he said in a nod to the recent hacking controversy that has plagued Sony Pictures and initially threatened the release of The Interview.

Hirai also praised the "innovators, creators and storytellers that have advanced technology in a way that is pleasing audiences worldwide. ... I see great potential for what we can accomplish as an industry."

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For the first time this year, the New York-based NATAS and Los Angeles-based sister organization, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, hosted the event as a joint ceremony.

Also during the evening, HD pioneer Laurence J. Thorpe received a standing ovation as he accepted the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award. Thorpe has held positions including head of HDTV market development at Sony and currently is a senior fellow at Canon.

He recalled a "rich and rewarding" career, for instance working to bring digital cinematography to the market, saying, "We worked with a wonderful collection of engineers from Laser Pacific, Lucasfilm and Sony. There was a lot of pain at the time, but look where we are today."

Of his more recent time at Canon, he said the company released the 5D Mark II as it "plunged into digital cinematography" and is "working to take it way into the future."

Read more Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai Addresses Studio Hack During CES Keynote

Global standards-setting body the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers was honored with the Philo. T. Farnsworth Award for its impact on TV technology and engineering. Accepting the award, executive director Barbara Lange noted that for nearly a century "the pioneering innovation of our members [mean] consumers can enjoy a quality experience." She added that developments from color bars to immersive sound and Ultra HD "are about the members coming together."

During the evening, Emmys were awarded to Philips, for its LDK6000 HD camera system; Sony, for its multiformat HDTV CCD fiber-optic camera system; the founders — Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Technicolor and Toshiba — of High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI); Intel, for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP); and the ATSC for its recommended practices on audio loudness for DTV.

Honorees included HBO and Netflix for second-screen developments; ?Twitter and Mass Relevance (?Spreadfast) for improving engagement around television in social media; ?IBM company Aspera, ?DataExpedition, Signiant and ?Unlimitech for secure accelerated file movement over IP; and EEG Enterprises and Xorbit for development of low latency video streaming live-captioning systems.

Emmys also were presented to Apple, Roku, Microsoft, Sony and Tivo for TV enhancement devices; Netflix for non-live large-scale online video systems; and Jinni, Think Analytics, Tivo's Digitalsmiths and Comcast for personalized recommendation engines for video discovery. The Video Services Forum, Media Links, ?Nevion, ?DVBlink, ?Harris Broadcast (Imagine Communications), ?Ericsson, Artel Video Systems, ?Barco Silex and ?IntoPix were honored for standardization and productization of JPEG2000 interoperability; and MLB Advanced Media, Time Warner Cable and NBC Universal were recognized for delivery of pay TV linear video over a high-speed data connection.

During the evening, Alex Trebek and Yahoo Tech founder David Pogue served as masters of ceremonies.

Twitter: @CGinLA1