News / Arts & Entertainment

Sci-Tech Oscars Honor Science of Movie-Making

Academy President Hawk Koch arrives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Scientific and Technical Awards at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, Feb. 9, 2013.Academy President Hawk Koch arrives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Scientific and Technical Awards at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, Feb. 9, 2013.
x
Academy President Hawk Koch arrives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Scientific and Technical Awards at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, Feb. 9, 2013.
Academy President Hawk Koch arrives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Scientific and Technical Awards at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, Feb. 9, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Mike O'Sullivan
— Special effects and other cinema technology are becoming more important in helping movie-makers tell their stories.  Hollywood's motion picture academy, which will present the Oscars Sunday, February 24, has already honored the engineers and scientists behind the industry's changing technology.  

The Oscars are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which reminds us each year that filmmaking is both an art and a science.

The Academy's Scientific and Technical - or Sci-Tech - awards, are presented a few weeks before the Oscars.  This year, they were given out February 9. The British company Cooke Optics, which has been making cinema lenses since the early days of movies, received the Academy's highest honor, an Oscar.

Longtime special effects creator Bill Taylor received a medal of commendation for his service to the motion picture academy. Taylor has worked on visual effects in films that include Jim Carrey's fantasy Bruce Almighty and Martin Scorsese's 1991 remake of the psychological thriller Cape Fear.

"And Cape Fear was full of visual effects. And because Martin Scorsese is a great student, he understood how every visual effects shot on every movie ever made was done, basically, so he really fell into it," said Taylor. "And one of the greatest achievements in the history of visual effects was his Hugo, which was just last year.”

Scorsese's fantasy-adventure Hugo won five Oscars, including one for its visual effects team.

Ross Shain of Imagineer Systems was part of a group honored at this year's Sci-Tech awards for software that helps filmmakers create elaborate effects in post-production.  He said the company's system, called Mocha, has been used in many films, including Black Swan, a thriller about a ballet dancer, played by Natalie Portman.

"Throughout the film she sort of evolves into a climactic scene where she becomes a swan. And feathers and different visual effects are applied to her body," he said. "And the artists basically have to motion-track the movements of the actress to apply effects to it.”

Richard Edlund, who chairs the Academy Sci-Tech Awards committee, has won four Oscars over the years, including for Star Wars.

He said special effects are an important part of films of all genres, not just science fiction.

"The technologists in my opinion are just as creative as the actors and the directors on the other side of the camera because they’re the ones that produce the technology that enables the artist to create and to transmit artistic ideas to the audience,” said Edlund.

He said there are many challenges in making a great movie, and one of the biggest challenges for the 1977 blockbuster was not technical. It was finding an actor who could deliver lines like this, and make them believable:

He said the casting of Alec Guinness as Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi was one reason the Star Wars series was successful.  John Williams's dramatic music was another. Last but not least, he said creative effects helped director George Lucas create a classic.

Edlund said that collaboration between art and technology remains just as important today.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

With over five million records sold worldwide, singer-songwriter MIKA is best known for his hit single “Grace Kelly.” MIKA joins "Border Crossings" to perform live and to talk with host Larry London about his latest CD “The Origin Of Love.”