News / Arts & Entertainment

Hollywood Sci-Tech Awards Honor Scientists, Engineers

Left to right, Jan Sperling, Emmanuel Prevenaire, Etienne Brandt and Tony Postiau, developers of the Flying-Cam SARAH 3.0 system and recipients of a Scientific and Engineering Award, pose together at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Scientific and Technical Awards on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California.
Left to right, Jan Sperling, Emmanuel Prevenaire, Etienne Brandt and Tony Postiau, developers of the Flying-Cam SARAH 3.0 system and recipients of a Scientific and Engineering Award, pose together at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Scientific and Technical Awards on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California.
Mike O'Sullivan
Hollywood's motion picture academy will present the Academy Awards, or Oscars, March 2, in an annual celebration that honors actors and filmmakers.  Some of the scientists and engineers who help create the movie magic have already been honored with the academy's Scientific and Technical Awards held on February 15. 

Tony Postiau of Flying-Cam, a company based in Belgium, was honored for helping develop a small drone helicopter that carries a camera.  

“It's a tool that makes it possible to take shots including for the cinema at close-range aerial filming. So it's really a helicopter. It's a flying camera, actually,” he said.

The flying camera was used in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall to follow the hero from the air, as he rode a motorcycle over the rooftops of Istanbul.

Many award winners developed digital tools that have made fantasy films realistic.  

Ofer Alon received an Academy plaque for creating the computer program ZBrush.

“Which is a sculpting tool that's used in motion pictures to create fantastic creatures and things that are not existing, like environments," he said. "You've seen those in many popular movies like Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and stuff like that.”

Left to right, Robert Lanciault, Andre Gauthier, Benoit Sevigny and Yves Boudreault, designers of the FILMBOX software application and recipients of a Scientific and Engineering Award, pose together at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Scientific and Technical Awards, Feb. 15, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California.Left to right, Robert Lanciault, Andre Gauthier, Benoit Sevigny and Yves Boudreault, designers of the FILMBOX software application and recipients of a Scientific and Engineering Award, pose together at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Scientific and Technical Awards, Feb. 15, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California.
x
Left to right, Robert Lanciault, Andre Gauthier, Benoit Sevigny and Yves Boudreault, designers of the FILMBOX software application and recipients of a Scientific and Engineering Award, pose together at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Scientific and Technical Awards, Feb. 15, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California.
Left to right, Robert Lanciault, Andre Gauthier, Benoit Sevigny and Yves Boudreault, designers of the FILMBOX software application and recipients of a Scientific and Engineering Award, pose together at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' annual Scientific and Technical Awards, Feb. 15, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California.
Canadians Andre Gauthier and Yves Boudreault  are part of a team that created FiLMBOX, a motion capture and animation software program that lets actors transfer their movements to a virtual character.  It has been used in many fantasy blockbusters, and the men say the team is proud to be honored.  They said developing FiLMBOX involved working six, seven days a week, 12-13 hours a day, for almost 20 years.

Many of these technologists, like physicist Ronald Henderson of DreamWorks Animation, had no idea that they would one day work in the movie business.

“I really didn't. I started off in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University, and then I went on to Princeton and I studied simulation and applied math, and I worked at Cal Tech in the applied math department for five years,” he said.

Henderson was honored for creating a computer program that simulates smoke, fire and explosions.  It has been used in such films as the recent animated adventure Rise of the Guardians, and the upcoming animated comedy Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

Peter Hillman earned a technical achievement award for his work in digital compositing, seamlessly blending video elements together with the help of computers.  He says new technology expands the range of what we see on screen.

“The movies that I most enjoy are the ones which couldn't have been made in any other way and where it is part of the story, and possibly where you don't know," he said. "I mean, hopefully, people see The Planet of the Apes and don't realize that those weren't just very well trained monkeys, that it was all computer-generated, that there weren't really any primates in it at all.”

Actor Michael B. Jordan and actress Kristen Bell hosted the ceremony, and both were pleased to meet the engineers and scientists who make their work easier, and less dangerous.  Bell stars in the upcoming murder mystery Veronica Mars.

“When you have geniuses sitting at a computer somewhere in the world that are creating programs that make it look like bombs are going off, or avatars exist, it only makes you more excited to be a part of this industry because everybody is telling the story better,” Bell said.

She says it all results in more exciting movies.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."