News / Arts & Entertainment

Movie Academy Honors Inventors, Engineers

Ian Caven (left), Ian Godin (left center), Tim Connolly (right center) and Kimball Thurston prior to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards on February 11, 2012, in Beverly Hills, California.
Ian Caven (left), Ian Godin (left center), Tim Connolly (right center) and Kimball Thurston prior to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards on February 11, 2012, in Beverly Hills, California.
Mike O'Sullivan

The Academy Awards, or Oscars, will be handed out Sunday, but the inventors and engineers who make movies possible have already been honored. This year's scientific and technical awards were presented earlier this month by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“There wouldn’t be any movies without technology.  And it’s becoming more and more amazing what technology is being invented for making movies," said Richard Edlund, who has won Oscars for visual effects in Stars Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi, and he chairs the Academy’s Sci-Tech committee.

The Academy is a professional organization of actors and filmmakers who say that making films is both an art and science. And it hands out awards for technical and scientific achievements in film.  

Academy certificates and plaques plus a few Oscars were handed out earlier this month for those achievements.

This year, an award went to Uwe Weber, honored with his late colleague Jurgen Noffke, for creating sensitive low-distortion lenses jointly produced by the ARRI and Zeiss companies.

“Yes, it’s possible to shoot in low light, candle light or so on, and this makes it very special.  You can get very natural images by that,” Weber explained.

The ARRI Zeiss lenses helped create the fantasy world in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Richard Toftness and his colleagues were honored for creating the Phantom line of high-speed digital cameras. Their cameras create incredibly slow motion on the screen, seen in many recent films, says team member Andy Jantzen.

“The latest one was Sherlock Holmes..... I was told two days ago that it was used in the Matrix film,” Jantzen said.

Richard Toftness says the cameras add texture to movies.

“We’ve been told that 95 percent of the films that use slow-motion effects use our cameras,” Toftness noted.

Bob Nettmann and his colleagues were honored for creating stabilizers for cameras and lenses for shooting from helicopters, cars, cranes and boats.  They were used in the film Mission Impossible to show Tom Cruise rappelling off a building.

“Our work is our hobby, so it’s a paying hobby. We’re stressed out at the moment because we’re building stuff for the Olympics, the London 2012 Olympics,” Nettmann said.

The team's products will help Olympic viewers get a closeup view of events.

Kimball Thurston was honored with his colleagues and late team leader John Lowry for an image-enhancing system called the Lowry Process .  It's been used to improve the look of classic films like Gone With The Wind and more recently, Avatar.

“I’m extremely honored, obviously, very excited.  A little bit nervous," Thurston said adding that he's seldom in the limelight.

Industry veteran, Jonathan Erland, was honored with a special medal for his service to the movie academy.  He says digital technology provides new ways to make and watch movies.
including on computers and mobile devices. But he likes to watch them the old-fashioned way, in a theater.

“Even though we have lots of ways to look at movies at home, the preferred way is still to go to a theater just the way we’ve been doing it for 100 years," Erland said.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.

Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More


New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – once for his work with The Hollies and once as part of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The legendary folk-rocker joins "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his latest project, “CSN 2012,” which captured on video recent live performances by Crosby, Stills & Nash.