For most people this is the weekend of stars in designer gowns and tuxedos strutting along the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards. Will it be Avatar or the Hurt Locker? George Clooney or Morgan Freeman? Penelope Cruz or Mo’Nique? And what will they wear? And who will be best and worst dressed? The glitz. The glamour. How do we love it all. Let us count the ways. But back on February 20, another set of Academy Awards were delivered with perhaps a little less glitz and glamour.
At a separate dinner and ceremony, the Sci-Tech Awards were handed out to those who work behind the scenes to create cinematic magic. These are the more academic members of the academy with backgrounds in electrical engineering, computer graphics and other similar disciplines. Their notable creations include digital grass, lush and green, blowing in imaginary winds across movie screens. It turns out you can’t create a field of grass by drawing one or a few blades and multiplying. You need a scientific approach. Who knew? They also use complex mathematical equations to make digital water in tranquil ponds and roiling oceans by “matching wave frequencies to tessellation.” Okay so that’s not quite Oscar language.
Believe it or not the Sci-Tech awards have been around since 1931, given for work which improves the motion-picture experience. This year, 45 people received 15 awards at the ceremony that was held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Among the winners was Christophe Hery who formerly used the Zbrush digital sculpting and painting program to create skin for “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It could be said that behind every successful actor is a set of very wise geeks.
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