VFX pioneer Feeney gets AMPAS nod


Ray Feeney, who has pioneered software solutions for motion picture visual effects, will receive the Gordon E. Sawyer Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The award, which was voted on by the Academy's board of governors, includes an Oscar statuette. It was established in 1981 and is presented to individuals "whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry." The Sawyer Award will be presented to Feeney at the Scientific and Technical Awards dinner Feb. 10 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

"Ray has helped develop and implement many of the groundbreaking technologies that have become industry standard techniques used in the creation of visual effects for motion pictures," Academy president Sid Ganis said.

A graduate of the California Institute of Technology, Feeney began his career at Robert Abel & Associates, working on visual effects for commercials and feature films. In 1988, he received his first Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy for his part in the development of one of the first motion control camera systems. A second Scientific and Engineering Award followed in 1991 for his work on the Solitaire Image Recorder, and he received two more in 1994 for his work in developing film input scanners and the Cinefusion software implementation of the Ultimatte Blue Screen Compositing Technology.

In 2001, the Academy awarded him the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation.

Feeney founded RFX Inc. in 1978 to provide leading-edge scientific and engineering solutions for the film industry, many of which are now in widespread use to produce visual effects for features, TV shows and commercials. In 1995, he launched another company, Silicon Grail, to facilitate software development in the motion picture industry. Silicon Grail's RAYZ software addressed the postproduction need for a digital compositing tool that could be used to efficiently create visual effects for feature films. In 2002, Apple Computer acquired the technologies and continues to use them in Apple products.

A co-chair of the Academy's Science and Technology Council, Feeney also serves on the Academy's Scientific and Engineering Awards Committee and has chaired the Digital Imaging Technology Subcommittee. He also is a founding member and director of the Visual Effects Society as well as a fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.