This year, the Academy’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards will honor many new honorees from around the world for their innovative contributions to the arts and sciences of moviemaking.
Helping to create new sights and sounds that pull audiences into their favorite films like never before—these individuals and companies can proudly say they've entertained audiences across the globe—and paved the way for future filmmakers to follow.
The Scientific and Technical Awards, hosted by filmmaker Nia DaCosta, will be presented virtually on Saturday, February 13th starting at 1 p.m. PT on the Oscars website. Below are just a few of the films in which you can see the handiwork of our Scientific and Technical Award recipients.
Alita: Battle Angel
Capturing visual information to create a cinematic character from scratch is an ongoing process, as seen in this James Cameron-produced film directed by Robert Rodriguez whose heroine engages in cutting-edge action scenes courtesy of the Standard Deviation head-mounted camera system. The award goes to Babak Beheshti and Scott Robitille for the development of the compact, stand-alone, phase-accurate genlock synchronization and recording module, and to Ian Kelly and Dejan Momcilovic for its technical direction and workflow integration, all of which have been used in numerous productions.
Hats (or fins) off to Stephen Bowline for the ILM HairCraft Dynamics System, which simulates hair by embedding curves in tetrahedral mesh volumes. That means the visual effects artists at ILM can create more photorealistic characters, such as the ones seen underwater in the DC Comics nautical superhero film including the flowing locks of its two long-haired heroes.
First seen bringing to life the population of the planet Pandora, the Technoprops head-mounted camera system was developed to provide improved actor comfort and accurate, unobstructed capture of an actor’s facial movements while allowing for quick reconfiguration and minimized downtime. For these believable results, the honor for this system design goes to Alejandro Arango, Gary Martinez, Robert Derry and Glenn Derry.
The Intel Embree Ray Tracing Library uses open-source code to serve as a crucial resource for movie production rendering that results in the realistic creation of characters like Thanos in the last two Avengers films. The award for this intersection framework goes to Sven Woop and Carsten Benthin for core development, Attila T. Áfra for motion picture feature development, and Manfred Ernst and Ingo Wald for early research and technical direction.
Creating realistic hair in animated films has been a years-long challenge with often dazzling results over the past decade. One of the first films to fully utilize the Taz Hair Simulation System was this Pixar production whose heroine, Merida, sports a striking red mane that has since become its signature image. Recipients of this award are Hayley Iben, Mark Meyer, John Anderson and Andrew Witkin.
The Jungle Book
The King Louie character in Jon Favreau’s eye-popping 2016 revisit of the animated Disney classic wouldn’t have been possible without the creation of the Synapse Hair Simulation System, with Niall Ryan, Christoph Sprenger and Gilles Daviet being saluted for this position-based dynamics system that gives artists a wider range of potential digital characters.
This cutting-edge musical look at the life of Elton John features a number of dazzling fantasy sequences brought to vivid life through the ftrack Studio, which enables large and small studios to schedule and manage complex digital motion picture animation and visual effects during postproduction. For its design, architecture and engineering, the award goes to Fredrik Limsäter, Björn Rydahl and Mattias Lagergren.
The creation of animated hair was a particular challenge for this 2010 Disney adaptation of the Rapunzel fairytale, with its heroine’s magical, exceptionally long tresses serving a major function in the story. The award for the Walt Disney Animation Studios Hair Simulation System so useful now to Disney artists is presented to Kelly Ward Hammel, Aleka McAdams, Toby Jones, Maryann Simmons and Andy Milne.