Academy honors lens pioneer


David A. Grafton has been selected for the Gordon E. Sawyer Award by a vote of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Grafton is a pioneering designer of lenses for optical effects printers, which at the time of their development were adopted by nearly every visual effects facility in the motion picture industry.

The Sawyer Award is presented to an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry. Grafton will be the 21st recipient of the award, an Oscar statuette.

Said Academy president Sid Ganis: "David's innovative designs have enabled audiences to see the 'impossible' on movie screens, and his work has dramatically improved the quality of visual effects in the motion picture industry."

His award will be presented at the Scientific and Technical Awards dinner on Feb. 9 at the Beverly Wilshire.

Born in England in 1924, Grafton came to the U.S. in 1953. For more than 30 years, he designed electro-optical systems for IBM, NCR, EG&G and Xerox.

In the '70s Grafton began consulting for the motion picture industry, where the specialized lenses he designed for optical effects printers enabled the seamless blending of multiple images from different sources. Working with such special effects companies as Industrial Light & Magic and Boss Film Studios, he contributed to the production of numerous feature films including "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Blade Runner."

Grafton previously received Scientific and Engineering Academy Awards in 1980, for the optical design of a telecentric anamorphic lens for motion picture optical effects printers; and in 1986, as part of the team responsible for the design and development of the Zoom Aerial 65mm Optical Printer.