Oscars: Jonathan Erland to Get Gordon E. Sawyer Award

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Mark Elendt (left), Jonathan Erland

Ten Sci-Tech Awards winners, announced Thursday, will be honored at a Feb. 10 ceremony.

Visual effects technologist Jonathan Erland has been selected to receive this year’s Gordon E. Sawyer Award, an Oscar statuette that recognizes technological contributions that have brought credit to the industry, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday.

The Academy also announced 10 scientific and technical achievements, representing 34 individual award recipients, that will be honored at the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. 

Erland, who has received four previous Sci-Tech Awards as well as a Medal of Commendation from the Academy, worked with John Dykstra at Industrial Light & Magic to create the visual effects in the first Star Wars movie in 1977.

An Academy Award of Merit, also in the form of an Oscar statuette, will be given to Mark Elendt and Side Effects Software for the creation and development of the Houdini visual effects and animation system.

“This year we are happy to honor a very international group of technologists for their innovative and outstanding accomplishments,” Ray Feeney, chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee, said in making the announcement. “These individuals have significantly contributed to the ongoing evolution of motion pictures, and their efforts continue to empower the creativity of our industry.”

The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are:


To Jason Smith and Jeff White for the original design, and to Rachel Rose and Mike Jutan for the architecture and engineering, of the BlockParty procedural rigging system at Industrial Light & Magic.

To Joe Mancewicz, Matt Derksen and Hans Rijpkema for the design, architecture and implementation of the Rhythm & Hues Construction Kit rigging system.

To Alex Powell for the design and engineering, to Jason Reisig for the interaction design and to Martin Watt and Alex Wells for the high-performance execution engine of the Premo character animation system at DreamWorks Animation.

To Rob Jensen for the foundational design and continued development, to Thomas Hahn for the animation toolset and to George ElKoura, Adam Woodbury and Dirk Van Gelder for the high-performance execution engine of the Presto Animation System at Pixar Animation Studios.


To John Coyle, Brad Hurndell, Vikas Sathaye and Shane Buckham for the concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera System.

To Jeff Lait, Mark Tucker, Cristin Barghiel and John Lynch for their contributions to the design and architecture of the Houdini visual effects and animation system.

To Bill Spitzak and Jonathan Egstad for the visionary design, development and stewardship of the Nuke compositing system.

To Abigail Brady, Jon Wadelton and Jerry Huxtable for their significant contributions to the architecture and extensibility of the Nuke compositing system.

To Leonard Chapman for the overall concept, design and development, to Stanislav Gorbatov for the electronic system design and to David Gasparian and Souhail Issa for the mechanical design and integration of the Hydrascope telescoping camera crane systems.