Marisa Tomei to host Sci-Tech Oscars

The academy has named 1992 Best Supporting Actress Marisa Tomei (“My Cousin Vinny”) to preside over the Feb. 12 presentation of the scientific and technical awards. She is the latest in a line of screen beauties to handle hosting duties and then introduce a highlight reel during the Oscars.

Last year, it was Elizabeth Banks who emceed and before that the roster ran as follows: Jessica Biel (2008), Jessica Alba (2007), Maggie Gyllenhaal (2006), Rachel McAdams (2005), Scarlett Johansson (2004), Jennifer Garner (2003), Kate Hudson (2002), Charlize Theron (2001), Renee Zellweger (2000) and Salma Hayek (1999).

Living up to its full name, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is honoring 10 teams of technical prowess.  AMPAS recognizes these achievements with three levels of prizes: technical (a certificate), scientific and engineering (a plaque) and merit (an Oscar statuette). As with last year, no Oscar has been awarded for merit. Rather, there will be four groups receiving plaques for their scientific and engineering feats and six sets of certificates handed out for technical achievement.

As per the original announcement, “Unlike other Academy Awards to be presented this year, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards need not have been developed and introduced during 2010. Rather, the achievements must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.”

Scientific and Engineering Awards (Plaques)

To Mark Sagar for his early and continuing development of influential facial motion retargeting solutions. Sagar’s work led to a method for transforming facial motion capture data into an expression-based, editable character animation system that has been used in motion pictures with a high volume of digital characters.

To Mark Noel for the design, engineering and development, and to John Frazier for his contributions to the design and safety features, of the NAC Servo Winch System. The NAC System allows full-size cars, aircraft and other heavy props to be flown on wires with unprecedented freedom of motion and a high degree of safety, on-set and in real time. The intuitive control system responds to the motion of the operator’s hand, permitting the recording and playback of all axes of motion simultaneously, which may be edited and refined for playback in subsequent takes.

To James Rodnunsky, Alex MacDonald and Mark Chapman for the development of the Cablecam 3-D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies. The evolution of the Cablecam technology has made it possible to move a camera safely and accurately anywhere through a three-dimensional space.

To Tim Drnec, Ben Britten Smith and Matt Davis for the development of the Spydercam 3D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies. The evolution of the Spydercam technology has made it possible to move a camera safely and accurately anywhere through a three-dimensional space.

Technical Achievement Awards (Certificates)

To Greg Ercolano for the design and engineering of a series of software systems culminating in the Rush render queue management system.  Ercolano’s work has been influential across the industry and has enabled scalable render farms at numerous studios.

To David M. Laur for the development of the Alfred render queue management system. This system was the first robust, scalable, widely adopted commercial solution for queue management in the motion picture industry. Its user interface and support for multi-machine assignment influenced the design of modern day queue management tools.

To Chris Allen, Gautham Krishnamurti, Mark A. Brown and Lance Kimes for the development of Queue, a robust, scalable approach to render queue management. Queue was one of the first systems that allowed for statistical analysis and process introspection, providing a framework for the efficient use of render farms.

To Florian Kainz for the design and development of the robust, highly scalable distributed architecture of the ObaQ render queue management system. ObaQ has scaled from managing a few hundred processors in 1997 to many thousands today, with minimal changes to the original design.

To Eric Tabellion and Arnauld Lamorlette for the creation of a computer graphics bounce lighting methodology that is practical at feature film scale. This important step in the evolution of global illumination techniques first used on the motion picture “Shrek 2” was shared with the industry in their technical paper “An Approximate Global Illumination System for Computer Generated Films.”

To Tony Clark, Alan Rogers, Neil Wilson and Rory McGregor for the software design and continued development of cineSync, a tool for remote collaboration and review of visual effects. Easy to use, cineSync has become a widely accepted solution for remote production collaboration.

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