Ray Dolby Steals the Show at HPA Awards: 'I Didn't Expect Any of This'

2012-39 BKLOT Dolby Ray Dolby H

Dolby in his home workshop in 1982, during the early stages of Dolby Spectral Recording (SR).

Judging from the standing ovation that erupted when inventor and engineer Ray Dolby, 79, accepted the Charles S. Swartz award at the seventh annual Hollywood Post Alliance Awards Nov. 1 at Skirball Center, the undisputed star of the evening was the founder of Dolby Laboratories.

STORY: 'The Avengers' and 'Game of Thrones' Among HPA Awards Winner

“If you take the big picture and step back and look at what we have done over generations,” said legendary film editor and sound designer Walter Murch, “you could divide film sound in half: there is BD, Before Dolby, and there is AD, After Dolby. I mixed my first film in 1969 [when] there was a stagnation in how film was being delivered to theaters. There was nothing fundamental that had changed in terms of optical soundtracks in over 30 years. The soundtracks I was delivering to theaters in 1969 were almost exactly the ones delivered in 1939. Unbeknownst to me, at the time, the very year, Ray was filing his first patent for Dolby Noise Reduction.”

Dolby’s innovations from 1949 at Ampex (where he helped create videotape recording) to 2011, when he retired from Dolby's board, earned him honors from the motion picture and television academies and the Cannes and the Berlin film festivals, the Edison Medal, the US National Medal of Technology, membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and a fortune Forbes estimates at $2.4 billion.

“I didn’t expect any of this,” Dolby told The Hollywood Reporter after the ceremony, as he mingled with starstruck tech types who understood his achievement better than a mainstream audience could. “I was just trying to find out ways of doing things. I worked on the idea. We were more or less successful in finding solutions.”

“For a long time I didn’t even know Dolby was a person,” said Satellite Award-winning Iron Man editor Dan Lebental. “To see him was a weird, unexpected thrill to me.”

STORY: Hollywood Post Alliance to Honor Ray Dolby

“It’s an iconic name,” said Erik Aadahl, Oscar-nominated supervising sound editor of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Argo. “When I was six, I transferred movies from VHS onto audiocassettes to listen to on road trips, and they always sounded better when it was set to Dolby B. I’m humbled and honored to be here.”

The winners of the 2012 HPAs are:

Outstanding Color Grading using a DI process – Feature Film

“The Iron Lady”

Rob Pizzey // Company 3

Outstanding Color Grading – Television

“Game of Thrones – The Prince of Winterfell”

Joe Finley // Modern VideoFilm

Outstanding Color Grading – Commercial  

Chrysler “Halftime in America”

Siggy Ferstl // Company 3

Outstanding Editing – Feature Film


Thelma Schoonmaker, A.C.E. // Sikelia Productions

Outstanding Editing – Television

"Downton Abbey – Series 2  Episode  7"
John Wilson, A.C.E. // Carnival Film & Television

Outstanding Editing – Commercial 

MasterCard “Tango”

Chris Franklin // Big Sky Editorial

Outstanding Sound – Feature Film

“The Adventures of Tin Tin”

Chris Ward, Brent Burge, Michael Hedges, Christopher Boyes and Andy Nelson // Park Road Post Production

Outstanding Sound – Television

“Grimm - Pilot" 

Mark Lanza, Larry Mann, Alan Decker and Nello Torri // Universal Sound

Outstanding Sound – Commercial 

Nissan Leaf “Gas Powered Everything”

Jimmy Hite // Margarita Mix Santa Monica

Outstanding Compositing – Feature Film

“Marvel’s The Avengers”

Nelson Sepulveda, Alan Travis, Peter Demarest and Chris Bayz // Industrial Light & Magic

Outstanding Compositing – Television

“NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service – Rekindled”

Bob Minshall, Mark Intravartolo, Jeremy Jozwik and Carrie Smith // Encore

Outstanding Compositing – Commercial

Chevy “2012 Silverado”

Benjamin Walsh, Dominik Bauch and Nicholas Kim // Method Studios

Special Awards:

Charles S. Swartz Award

for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Post Production:

Ray Dolby, Dolby Laboratories

Engineering Excellence Award:

·       Cinnafilm – Tachyon™

·       Crossroads Systems – StrongBox

·       Dolby Laboratories – Dolby® Atmos™

·       Sony Electronics – F65 Camera

HPA Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation in Post Production:

·       Gradient Interactive – Sandbox