More Kodak moments at sci-tech nods


Advances in Eastman Kodak's photographic emulsion technologies earned the Academy Award of Merit — an Oscar statuette — at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Scientific and Technical Awards.

Fluid-simulation developments that enable computer-generated water, smoke and explosions also were prominently recognized at Saturday's ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.

Host Jessica Alba presented the Academy Award of Merit, two Scientific and Engineering Awards, seven Scientific and Technical Awards and an Award of Commendation, as well as the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, which went to pioneering lens designer David A. Grafton. Additionally, the John A. Bonner Award was bestowed on David S. Inglish.

Kodak was honored for breakthroughs in film speed, grain and sharpness that are incorporated in its Vision2 color negative films.

"We love this industry, we are very committed to this industry, and whether it is with film or digital products, we are going to help you make better films," Kodak CEO Antonio Perez said.

Perez added, "All five best picture nominees (this year) used Kodak. … We are very proud that for the 80th time — from the very beginning of the Academy Awards — the best picture is going to once again go to a movie that used Kodak film."

Also recognizing film development, the Award of Commendation was presented to Jonathan Erland for his leadership and efforts toward identifying and solving the problem of high-speed emulsion stress syndrome in motion picture film stock.

Scientific and Engineering Awards, an Academy plaque, were presented to Doug Roble, Nafees Bin Zafar and Ryo Sakaguchi for the development of the fluid-simulation system at Digital Domain, and to Nick Rasmussen, Ron Fedkiw and Frank Losasso Petterson for the development of the Industrial Light + Magic fluid-simulation system.

Said Fedkiw of industry work in this area, "We've been pushing more and more, and we reached a (new) level." He cited such films as the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy and "Poseidon" that were enhanced by fluid-simulation techniques.

Also in the area of fluid simulation, Technical Achievement Awards — Academy certificates — were presented to Victor Gonzalez, Ignacio Vargas and Angel Tena for RealFlow liquid-simulation software; Jonathan Cohen, Jerry Tessendorf, Jeroen Molemaker and Michael Kowalski for the development of the system of fluid-dynamics tools at Rhythm & Hues; Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system; and Stephan Trojansky, Thomas Ganshorn and Oliver Pilarski for the development of the Flowline fluid-effects system.

Technical Achievement Awards also were bestowed on Christien Tinsley for the creation of the transfer techniques for creating and applying 2-D and 3-D makeup known as Tinsley Transfers; Jorg Pohler and Rudiger Kleinke of Ottec Technology for the Tiny Foggers battery-operated fog machines; and Sebastian Cramer and Andreas Dasser for the design of the Skater Dolly and its family of products.

Sawyer award recipient Grafton pioneered lens designs for optical effects printers, which at the time of their development were adopted by nearly every visual effects facility in the motion picture industry.

Inglish was awarded the Bonner medal for "outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

In his opening remarks, Academy president Sid Ganis recognized the Sci-Tech Council's recently completed report, "The Digital Dilemma: Strategic Issues in Archiving and Accessing Digital Motion Picture Materials."

"The council recognized a need for an industry-centric and objective review of the consequences of our industry's head-long rush into the world of digital technology," Ganis said. "There are great benefits to digital's use in image capture and postproduction, but the report reminds us that it is also very important to look at the life of these assets."

He also reported that the council is developing an Image Interchange Framework "that hopefully will ease many of the difficulties of digital motion picture production."

Before closing, Ganis noted that development plans for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures continue to move forward. "When the doors open, you can bet that both the arts and the sciences of the industry will be well represented," he said.