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14 2017 Mar

Blackmagic Design Announces DaVinci Resolve 12.5 for Linux Now Available

DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Resolve Studio are now available for Red Hat and CentOS Linux.

On March 2 Blackmagic Design announced that DaVinci Resolve, its professional editing and color correction software, is available on Red Hat and CentOS Linux. This allows customers with Red Hat or CentoOS 6.8 or 7.2 systems to download and use the free version of DaVinci Resolve or the full DaVinci Resolve Studio. Adding Linux support gives customers more choice in hardware, allowing them to build extremely high performance, low cost workstations for editing and color correction.

Previously, DaVinci Resolve Studio was only available on a special build of Linux for customers using the high end DaVinci Resolve Advanced control panel for professional colorists.

Read more here.

14 2017 Mar

Avid VENUE 5.4 for Avid VENUE

S6L streamlines and accelerates workflows for the most complex theater and other live sound productions.

Avid recently announced the availability of a new version of Avid VENUE™ Software for its award-winning Avid VENUE | S6L live sound system. Building on Avid VENUE | S6L’s success in the theater market, Avid has delivered a host of new workflows and capabilities powered by the MediaCentral® Platform to help sound designers and operators take on the world’s biggest and most complex theater and other live sound productions.

Theater productions are extremely complex, requiring extensive programming of scenes. Based on feedback from Avid’s respected community of leading theater sound designers, operators and system integrators, Avid VENUE 5.4 software delivers a host of updates to the Avid VENUE Snapshot and Events architecture that streamline, accelerate and enhance the programming of theater productions.

Updates to Avid VENUE | S6L’s Snapshot architecture enable sound designers to significantly streamline, speed up and enhance the programming of theater productions. Avid VENUE 5.4 also adds functionality to enable programming and workflows that were previously time intensive, and in some cases, impossible.

Enhancements to Avid VENUE’s Snapshots system include new momentary (non-sequential) snapshots, snapshot groups, and parent/child snapshots, and aux sends (up to 96) can be added to the snapshot Scope. Events updates give sound designers and engineers much greater flexibility to trigger events via external MIDI commands, LTC/MTC timecode values, the channel color and X&Y switches on the control surface, meter levels, and more, making almost all parameters available as triggers and actions. These enhancements are extremely powerful tools to program not only theater productions, but also other complex live sound productions.

Avid VENUE 5.4 also allows users to freely assign outputs between networked S6L systems sharing I/O for better collaborative flexibility, enabling engineers to assign Stage 64 outputs per output card instead of having to assign a Stage 64 entirely to one S6L system or another. This significantly improves the versatility and application of a shared I/O S6L system, for example where a FOH engineer needs dedicated control of a set of outputs that are feeding a PA system, while the rest of the outputs are controlled by a monitor engineer feeding in-ears, monitor wedges, etc.

“These latest innovations to Avid’s VENUE Software are part of Avid’s commitment to providing the most advanced tools and workflow solutions for our esteemed community of live sound customers,” said Dana Ruzicka, Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Avid. “With Avid VENUE | S6L’s growing success in the theater market, Avid VENUE 5.4 Software gives sound engineers the speed, flexibility, and efficiency they need to support the biggest, most complex theater and other live sound productions worldwide.”

Avid VENUE | S6L is a fully modular, scalable live sound mixing system that delivers best-in-class functionality for a range of live sound mixing applications, including front-of-house, monitor, broadcast, theater, and more. Featuring modern, touchscreen workflows and the industry’s most advanced live sound engine, Avid VENUE | S6L offers unprecedented power to easily handle large, complex tours and events. With tight integration with industry-standard Pro Tools®, Avid VENUE | S6L functions as the perfect front-end to the MediaCentral Platform, the most fluid end-to-end media management and distribution platform in the industry.

 

Customers with a valid Avid support plan can download Avid VENUE 5.4 software from their Avid Account free of charge. For more information, visit avid.com/S6L.

 

14 2017 Mar

Interview with Mark Testoni, President and Chief Executive of SAP National Security Services

By Debra Kaufman

Testoni 300At the 2017 HPA Tech Retreat, Mark Testoni, president and chief executive of SAP National Securities Services, which sells, implements, supports and develops software for cybersecurity, spoke on my panel on artificial intelligence/machine learning. His company’s client base is government agencies, the U.S. Department of Defense, law enforcement, Wall Street and financial institutions. I sat down with Testoni for a more in-depth talk about the topic.

Kaufman: Tell me about your work for government agencies.

Testoni: Because we’re all U.S. citizens and have security clearances and know all the regulations, we sell to a very small market of people in the government. We help track threats relevant to big data and help the mission side of intelligence and defense. It’s actually many of the same things this industry is grappling with, with regard to big data.

Intelligence or law enforcement gather records, get warrants, have visual surveillance. We try to help them take those traditional methods and new information like open-source intelligence and blend it together to get a bigger picture of what’s going on. Big data can help sift through petabytes of video and social media data, and then convert it to something that’s actionable.

Kaufman: How could this impact the film/TV industry?

Testoni:  On Homeland, Carrie puts pictures and information written on paper on a wall, hanging from strings. She’s doing on the wall what we’re trying to help her do, but not just one or two things at a time, but many. The whole world is a big data problem. With artificial intelligence, can machines do the editing based on audio direction from the editor? It’ll be fascinating to see how this rolls out. Our customer base picks up lots of things via sensors. Rules are emerging to determine how they process it and turn it rapidly into information.

Kaufman: What are the pitfalls of AI? What should we worry about?

Testoni: Do you know how with stock market funds, in the little print, it says, “past results are not predictive of future performance”? The outcome is only as good as the data. Is there an opportunity for bad guys to get in there and manipulate it? Is it 100 percent foolproof? Privacy is going to be a big issue. In fact, it’s the one-year anniversary of Apple versus the FBI on that privacy issue.

The basis of that issue is that information is being collected and held by companies. Who owns that data? Is a photo of me in transit in a public area considered public or private? What about a photo of my house captured by a surveillance camera – public or private? Can the government access it?

There was a murder committed in Bentonville, Arkansas and the government asked for the data from the home’s Amazon Alexa, as well as information on water and heat use, as part of the discovery process. We have to have a public conversation about all this and legislate so companies and the government can operate in this new world.

Kaufman: There are already intellectual property and privacy issues playing out in the digital entertainment business. What’s your perspective on them?

Testoni: There used to be a finite number of people who could produce content, now that’s really changed and you have all this information and video. In general, everyone is collecting the information, from YouTube to every other platform. Under what circumstances can that information be sold or traded?  And it can be hacked. All those data stores are vulnerable.

From the viewpoint of the customer, when you download an app, what are you saying yes to? In Pokémon, people didn’t realize they were giving up their list of contacts. As consumers, we have to be smart. Companies that are getting hacked, not only are getting their intellectual property hacked but also their users.

Kaufman: Yet you say that, in general, AI will be good for us.

Testoni: I was at the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to register my Jeep Wrangler, and while I’m waiting, I’m listening to an 80-year old man argue with the technician over what letters are on the vision test he was trying to pass. I want self-driving cars. The key is where the privacy line will be drawn. If I’m the object of a criminal investigation, how much of this data is discoverable? And are the companies holding it bound to turn it over or not?

Your industry is a communication industry as well as an entertainment industry, so you’re constantly looking for feedback. A movie or TV show ten years from now will probably be VR where AI will play a role. If you want a movie with different endings or where the user affects the outcome, that’s all AI.

Mark Testoni has been President and Chief Executive of SAP National Security Services since 2011 with responsibility for management, sales, consulting, product support, and go-to-market strategy for SAP’s most secure and sensitive U.S. government markets, customers and partners.

 

14 2017 Mar

Blackmagic Design Announces Innovative New Control Panels for DaVinci Resolve

New hardware color correction control panels are designed for new changing workflows

Blackmagic Design announced on March 2 the release of two new portable hardware control panels for DaVinci Resolve, its professional editing and color correction software. With professional editing becoming extremely popular in DaVinci Resolve, these new control panels are designed to allow color correction workflows to be mixed in with editing workflows, while introducing new levels of quality in affordable hardware control panels.

The new DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel are true professional grade hardware control panels that feature three exceptional quality high resolutions trackballs, precision machined control knobs, illuminated buttons and much more. Hardware control panels are critically important for professional color correction because the colorist needs to “hold the image in their hands” as they manipulate multiple parameters at once to create new and highly stylized looks, or even make very subtle natural changes.

Read more here.

16 2017 Feb

Xytech and Phoenix7 Forge Technology Collaboration

MediaPulse and Zeus Integrate Channel Management and Facility Scheduling for the First Time

xytech logo15 February 2017 (Los Angeles, CA) Xytech, creator of the industry-defining facility management platform MediaPulse, has announced a technology collaboration with Phoenix7, creator of Zeus, the industry’s leading channel management system. This integration allows a channel schedule to automatically create jobs, schedules and transactions in MediaPulse. This adapter saves broadcasters from dual entry, reducing mistakes, lowering costs and increasing throughput. Simply put, the same staff accomplishes more tasks with fewer mistakes and greater transparency.

Channel management systems and facility scheduling systems have traditionally been disconnected islands within a broadcaster’s IT landscape. This collaboration allows for real-time channel scheduling and title information from Zeus to display in MediaPulse’s Schedule Book. The connection gives facility schedulers and personnel the ability to see immediate changes to a channel’s on air timetable and react swiftly.

Daniel Lynch, Vice President of Broadcast Services for Xytech, said, “Broadcasters must organize their people and resources around their live, on-air output. This is especially challenging for sports and news broadcasters.  The events driving their schedules are by nature highly volatile.  A match can be altered on short notice due to inclement weather or a broadcaster changing its decisions based on a team’s current standing. In the fast-paced world of broadcasting, staff, studios and equipment need to be repurposed quickly and accurately.”

The ability to assimilate these two different but critically related systems is possible because of the software development expertise of Phoenix7 and Xytech. A seamless interface between the products fulfills many client requirements.

Hitesh Vekaria, Founder and Managing Director of Phoenix7, said, “Integrating the channel management power of Zeus with MediaPulse is an exciting development and one we believe will be highly efficient in our customers’ operations. Working with the team at Xytech has been a great experience because Xytech and Phoenix7 both operate with a similar approach – to provide the best service for our customers as they operate under extreme deadlines and pressure. We see this integration as a concrete example of our commitment to improve service for customers.”

For more information, visit xytech.com.

16 2017 Feb

How Low Can You Go?

Craig German

Craig German

My original intent for this article was to explore how a TV producer or film director could conceive, create, and distribute a high production value show for a fraction of the “typical” cost.  We all know about Robert Rodriguez’s critically acclaimed $7,000 film, El Mariachi; Tyler Oakley’s $6M/year on-line social issues show; and student filmmakers who make compelling movies on nothing but free labor and borrowed equipment and rooms.  And there’s no question we can learn a lot in this industry by studying these examples to test our ideas about how we make great content.  But what I was after was this: how can we change our creative workflows and apply new products and services from industry disruptors to reduce the cost profile for what we do?  With limited print space and time, I decided on two things: I’d focus my attention on production and post in scripted TV and film; and I’d avoid quantitative budget comparisons, instead aggregating the thoughts of some of our colleagues into a picture of where we’ve made progress today, where we may go in the future, and where some of the challenges will probably persist.

Historically, scripted television and film have required significant budgets and heavy infrastructure. However, progress in technological innovation and the evolution of content business models have enabled and motivated us to seek lower cost profiles, with even greater expectations that costs will continue to decrease.  The sources of cost savings have been in several areas: workflow optimization; tools commoditization; cloud services; and open technology.

When we talk about workflow optimization, we’re talking about intelligent process choices.  Are there redundant steps?  Can we remove any dependencies to shorten the timeline?  If we change the order of events, do any steps collapse?  We’ve seen workflow specialists rise to the level of key players at post houses.  And with more compute power, cheaper storage, and greater connectivity, a workflow specialist has a deeper arsenal for his attack plan.

As an example, Jesse Korosi, Director of Workflow Services at Bling, has had increasing requests to be involved in a job from capture to final conform, going beyond the typical separation of on-set and post roles.  Often, much of the knowledge about the assets leaving the set for post is lost – it wasn’t captured in the first place, or it is not convenient enough to track.  By involving the workflow specialist in technical decisions up front, from how color is created on set, to the software used for metadata logging and VFX Data Wrangler notes, he is able to aggregate project metadata so that downstream teams can automate more of their processes.  Aside from some of the customized tools that a workflow specialist may use, many other software companies like Colorfront have opened up their products to enable workflow specialists to customize them, as well.

Another type of workflow optimization is talent focus.  Great colorists and sound mixers still command a premium and will likely always be appreciated for their importance, as evidenced by the many award categories at the BAFTAs, Oscars, Emmys, HPAs, etc.  Even in the indie world, as noted by Randall Maxwell, an indie producer/writer, you need the pop you get from the color pro and the mixer.  Is there a way to focus these talented professionals on where they add the most value, and not where the work is more preparatory or ancillary?  Adam Stern, Founder and CEO of Artifex Studios in Vancouver, has seen a trend of doing the initial sound or color work in a home studio before submitting it for the high end finishing step.  Having said that, you won’t achieve high production value without true talent, the right tools, and the right viewing or listening experience.  The choice you have is how close you want to get to the look you want before you engage with the real deal.

The term “cloud” has been around long enough that we all have a pretty good idea of what we mean when we say it.  But how does it help us to control our costs?  When cloud was first becoming a thing, the only solution most of us had on our lips was Amazon, and we were skeptical about what could be accomplished in the cloud, how secure it was, and whether it could meet our SLAs.  Ten years later, we also have Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, major vendors have developed vertical ecosystems in each cloud solution, the cloud providers have a solid relationship with the MPAA, and there are sophisticated tiers of storage and compute to meet our varying post and distribution needs.  Erik Weaver, who ran the Entertainment Technology Center’s Project Cloud, observed through various case studies that creative teams were able to exploit editorial resources, via BeBop and Avid, as well as HDR color correction via Colorfront, in the cloud to complete their films, while only paying for the transactional costs of the actual cloud cycles.  Similarly, Adam Stern said that he now has the luxury of reserving budget that he used to have to hold back to keep up with the latest rendering hardware and infrastructure, and he is instead able to reallocate those funds directly to VFX burst rendering in the cloud.

Post production tools themselves have become more sophisticated and multi-purpose.  The competition from Final Cut Pro and Premiere has given Avid a run for its money, and our community has benefited as a consequence.  Although there have been questions over the past several years of whether Apple was serious about the professional market, they are still an important option for many post production professionals, whether as part of a large operation, or as an independent producer.  And this has certainly driven each of these vendors to lower their price point while piling on features that enable content creators to get closer to their final vision with a one-stop shop mentality.  As an even more extreme case of commoditization, look at the success of the film Tangerine at Sundance 2015 – shot completely on an iPhone 5s (with Steadicam and anamorphic lens attachments).  While the Tangerine crew still went through a traditional post phase, the fact that they could make a splash using a camera that doesn’t have ARRI, Sony, or RED in its name should give us all pause.

We’ve discussed a few areas of disruptive change – so what’s next, and what’s not?  It seems that we will eventually see all of our tools in the cloud, with metered access according to how much we use them.  More creative choice will be accessible on set, and eventually, even raw material will be delivered electronically.  Workflows will end up fully integrated all the way from the set, through post, and into distribution.  But – the need for sheer talent is essential to the creation of compelling content (at least, until Watson understands the greatness of Martin Scorsese or Matthew Weiner), and no one wants to put out a show without experiencing it in an environment that approximates how a viewer will see it, so mix stages and DI suites are also a fixture in the process.  As pointed out by Jacob Medjuck, an early pioneer of all-digital post, the biggest budget items in a mainstream film continue to be the talent, and music – since those are much harder to control, we’ll continue to focus on process and tools.  Our industry will continue to find ways to produce great content more quickly, for a lower cost, and for more platforms.  One thing that we can count on is that each of us will be asked to contribute in our own way to this on-going transformation.

I’d like to thank the following people for their input to this article: Jesse Korosi, Director of Workflow Services at Bling/SIM Digital, and Co-Head of the Young Entertainment Professionals group (YEP) at HPA; Jacob Medjuck, Film Director and Founder of Film Raiser; Erik Weaver, Global Marketing Director at HGST, and Project Cloud Lead at ETC; Randall Maxwell, Film Producer/Writer; and Adam Stern, Founder/CEO of Artifex Studios.

15 2017 Feb

SCRG Matures to NET (Networking-Education-Technology)

NET events launch in March – details to be announced shortly!

The HPA’s Sales & Career Resource Group, which was formed in 2007, has grown into NET (Networking-Education-Technology), formally launching next month with a fresh mandate for more networking, education and knowledge sharing on business and emerging technologies. Known for presenting lively networking events where HPA members shared ideas and stayed informed, SCRG evolved as the dramatic changes in our industry grew the demand for knowledge and the need for connection, particularly among the non-technical crowd.

“This gathering is an engaged, upbeat, exciting place to discuss what’s new, understand it, and get our heads around how it impacts what we are working on.  SCRG was a perfect launch pad for what NET is becoming – a place where the usual suspects and new faces gather to talk about what keeps them intrigued.  It’s a more than worthwhile way to spend your lunch hour,” says Josh Wiggins, NET chair. “Our initial event last year attracted nearly 100 people, and we’ve been deluged with requests for the next NET lunch.  If you are interested in being part of the event, please contact Alicia Rock.  We look forward to seeing you in March!”

With new speakers and a wide array of topics, NET events promise to be engaged and engaging. Details for the upcoming NET event slated for late March will be announced at the HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Springs.

15 2017 Feb

The GRAMMY® Awards Sees Avid Customers Hit the High Note

Every nominee for Record of the Year and Album of the Year relied on Avid’s comprehensive music creation solutions

Avid® congratulated its many customers recognized for their outstanding achievements in the recording arts with award wins and nominations at the 59th Annual GRAMMY® Awards, which took place on Sunday, February 12 in Los Angeles. The world’s most prestigious ceremony for music excellence honored numerous artists, producers and engineers who relied on Avid’s music creation solutions powered by the MediaCentral® Platform.

Every nominee for Record of the Year and Album of the Year used Avid’s comprehensive tools and workflow solutions, including the industry-standard digital audio software, Avid Pro Tools®.  GRAMMY Award winners created Adele’s Record of the Year and Song of the Year Hello, and Album of the Year 25 using Pro Tools.

Record producer Noah “40” Shebib, who was nominated for Record of the Year for Work by Rihanna featuring Drake, Album of the Year for Drake’s Views and Best R&B Song for Come and See Me by PartyNextDoor featuring Drake, said: “It’s always humbling to be recognized on such a big stage like the GRAMMYS and I’m honored to have been nominated for three awards. Working with artists in different locations and time zones can be challenging, but with Pro Tools, we’re able to collaborate in real time without compromising our creativity.”

Producer, mixer and musician Mike Dean received multiple nominations for Album of the Year for Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Justin Bieber’s Purpose, and Best Rap Song for Famous by Kanye West featuring Rihanna and Ultralight Beam by Kanye West featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin and The-Dream. “To once again have several GRAMMY nominations, all of which were recorded and/or mixed with Pro Tools speaks volumes about the reliability of Avid technology and its ability to take our music to the next level. Special thanks to the whole Avid team for keeping me up and running year after year.”

Other GRAMMY Award-winning projects by artists, producers and engineers who use Avid solutions in their studios include Best Rock Performance Blackstar by David Bowie, Best Dance Recording Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers featuring Daya, Best Rap Song Hotline Bling by Drake, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots.

“The most talented music professionals from around the world continue to choose Avid’s comprehensive audio solutions to record and produce award-winning music,” said Avid Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Louis Hernandez, Jr. “As a company that’s passionate about world-class content creation and technical innovation, we’re proud to provide our preeminent customer community with not only the industry-leading solutions they need to deliver the highest quality music, but also a media ecosystem to help artists economically through Avid EverywhereTM. We congratulate our GRAMMY Award-winning and nominated customers who inspire us with their outstanding artistic and technical achievements.”

See the full list of GRAMMY Award winners and nominees who relied on Avid Artist Suite creative tools here.

15 2017 Feb

Avid Delivers Next-Generation Newsroom Innovations that Accelerate Multiplatform Story Creation

Cloud-enabled story-centric workflow enables media and news organizations to quickly and efficiently create and deliver multiple angles of a story across more viewer outlets

Avid® today announced the availability of innovations for the next-generation newsroom. Powered by the Avid MediaCentral® Platform, the industry’s most open, tightly integrated and efficient platform for media, the next-generation newsroom is based around a complete story-centric workflow that connects production teams anywhere in the world via the cloud and takes their stories beyond traditional media outlets. It includes multiple Avid solutions and new feature enhancements—including several new panes within MediaCentral | UX—for fast, efficient, modern newsroom management and news production.

The story-centric workflow puts the story at the center of news operations, and provides the best and most comprehensive tools and workflow solutions to enable news teams to plan, gather, create, collaborate, manage and deliver news to a wider range of viewers across multiple platforms. This holistic approach allows for more dynamic and organic storytelling and greater workflow agility–both inside and outside the newsroom.

In addition to news teams, anyone who needs to plan and schedule resources, gather information and distribute content around specific topics or stories can benefit from the story-centric workflow. It enables teams to quickly find and access the media and information they need to tell multiple angles of a story and increase viewer interest. Content can be pushed across a variety of platforms as the story evolves, including on-air, online, and on mobile devices. Audiences can get up-to-the-minute information and contribute to live broadcasts through social media interaction. And news teams can move away from traditional rundown-driven workflows, accelerating their ability to react to changing information.

“Today’s media organizations are under intense pressure to deliver stories to a broader range of outlets including social media, boost ratings without necessarily increasing resources, more easily incorporate social content, and engage a broader audience,” said Alan Hoff, vice president, Market Solutions, Avid. “The new story-centric workflow enables our preeminent customer community to capitalize on these opportunities while improving efficiency across workflows and resources, and future-proofing their investments with flexible licensing and deployment options including cloud-enabled workflows.”

The products that comprise the story-centric workflow include MediaCentral®| UX, iNEWS®, Interplay® | Production, Media | Distribute, Media Composer® | Cloud, Maestro™, and Social Media Hub. MediaCentral | UX, the cloud-based web front end to MediaCentral, is the hub and catalyst in the story-centric workflow, so customers who already have iNEWS and/or Interplay | Production systems can manage every facet of a news story from a single user interface.

Several new capabilities within MediaCentral | UX facilitate the story-centric workflow and integrate with other platform-connected solutions like iNEWS and Interplay | Production. They include the ability to create, and manage assignments and resources, and to gather story-related content in a collaborative workspace.  In addition, new integrated panes for Maestro and Social Media Hub provide seamlessly integrated graphics management and social media interaction.

With the new MediaCentral | UX Assignments pane now available, the story-centric workflow enables users to:

  • Assign and manage stories with a virtual assignment desk. Users can assign teams, resources, topics, and destinations to a story, which can then be easily searched for, filtered, updated, and managed throughout its evolution
  • Build a story by gathering and associating graphics, video, text, tweets, social media posts, and other potential story-building content in the Elements area of the Assignments pane
  • Sync stories across newsrooms with richer metadata tagging in MediaCentral | UX. Users can associate categories, topics, and tags to a story to enable better content searching and management across all accessible local and remote databases
  • Aggregate Twitter and Facebook content and display social media postings (from Social Media Hub) as on-air graphics (via Maestro)
  • Remotely access online and archived footage, scripts, and information back at the station or anywhere on the network and shoot, write, edit, and deliver stories from any location in the world using MediaCentral | UX and Media Composer | Cloud
  • Easily deliver a single story across multiple formats for viewing on TV, in a web browser, on a mobile device, or through a variety of social media platforms with direct integration between MediaCentral | UX and Media | Distribute
  • Broadcast up-to-the-minute graphics with the new Maestro pane in MediaCentral | UX, which allows users to drag and drop clips and images directly into Maestro templates to create and update real-time graphics quickly for on-air versions of stories

The MediaCentral | UX Assignments pane is available at no additional charge for customers who upgrade to MediaCentral | UX version 2.9. 

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14 2017 Feb

Sci-Tech Awards Honor Decades of Digital Camera Development

By Debra Kaufman

The 89th Scientific and Technology Awards, first established for the 4th Academy Awards in 1931, were held on February 11, 2017 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Hosted by actors John Cho and Leslie Mann, the 2017 Sci-Tech Awards featured 18 separate awards, given out as citations and plaques to 34 individuals.

A well-written script and comic delivery of the two hosts provoked frequent laughter in a show where the awards are described in dense scientific and engineering terminology. Cho and Mann, who got appreciative laughter for their self-deprecating befuddlement at the text they read off the prompter, hit the mark when they dubbed the Sci-Tech Awards a “secret, private awards ceremony” that turns away the many celebrities who want to attend.

The main star of the evening was digital cameras, which, as Scientific and Technical Awards committee chair Ray Feeney noted, “helped facilitate the widespread conversion to electronic image capture for motion picture production … [and] significantly expanded filmmakers’ creative choices for moving image storytelling.” Two awards – to Sony/Panavision’s Genesis and Thomson Grass Valley’s Viper FilmStream – acknowledged the pioneering work of those companies that built the cameras at a time when the idea of digital cinematography was new and, often, unwelcomed. The Committee then recognized three digital cameras that are in widespread use today, featuring the latest technologies: the ARRI Alexa, RED Digital Cinema’s RED and Epic cameras, and Sony’s F65 CineAlta camera.

In the arena of digital visual effects, which has reached a high level of sophistication and maturity, the Academy honored advances in facial performance capture with awards to several responsible companies and individuals: Parag Havaldar’s work on expression-based facial performance at Sony Imageworks; Nicholas Apostoloff and Geoff Wedig for their animation rig-based system at ImageMovers Digital and Digital Domain; Kiran Bhat, Michael Koperwas, Brian Cantwell and Paige Warner for ILM’s facial performance capture system; and Luca Fascione, J.P. Lewis and Iain Matthews for creating Weta Digital’s FACETS facial animation capture system.

The trend towards production that incorporates heavy use of CGI and animatronics put Steven Rosenbluth, Joshua Barratt, Robert Nolty and Archie Te in the spotlight for their work on the Concept Overdrive motion system, which coordinates real world, virtual and animatronic imagery into a seamless workflow. Brian Whited was honored for designing and developing the Meander drawing system at Walt Disney Animation Studios

Awards more specific to the creation of digital imagery recognized Larry Gritz for his creation of Open Shading Language, which has become “a de facto industry standard,” and several awards to those whose work has improved rendering. Carl Ludwig, Eugene Troubetzkoy and Maurice van Swaaij were awarded for an early rendering breakthrough, with CGI Studio at the now-defunct Blue Sky Studios. The popular Arnold renderer was honored, with awards going to Marcos Fajardo for the “creative vision and original implementation” as well as Chris Kulla, Alan King, Thiago Ize and Clifford Stein for “highly optimized geometry engine and novel ray-tracing algorithms” developed at Sony Imageworks and Solid Angle. Vladimir Koylazov was awarded for “the original concept, design and implementation” of V-Ray, at Chaos Group, widely used for its approach to ray-tracing and global illumination and “its support for a wide variety of workflows.”

An animatronic horse puppet, developed originally for use in “Seabiscuit,” won honors for Mark Rappaport for the concept, design and development, Scott Oshita for the motion analysis and CAD design, Jeff Cruts for developing the faux-hair finish, and Todd Minobe for character articulation and drive-train mechanisms. Digital wireless microphones systems were awarded to Glenn Sanders and Howard Stark at Zaxcom and David Thomas, Lawrence E. Fisher and David Bundy at Lectrosonics.