For one night a year, the brightest stars in Hollywood aren´t spoiled starlets or megalomanaical directors. They are the scientists and engineers who create the technology that underlies all of modern filmmaking. On February 18, the Academy presented the 78th Annual Scientific and Engineering Awards to these worthy inventors. Here, a look at the winners.
Winners: Laurie Frost, Peter Hannan and Richard Loncraine, Shepperton Film Studios
Uses: This was the first remote-operated camera head, the now-ubiquituous device that holds the camera and moves it in any direction the filmmaker desires. The remote operation allows filmmakers to place cameras in dangerous spots that they couldn´t access before.
Credits: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Spider-Man, thousands of other films
CLOTH SIMULATION FOR FILM
Winners: David Baraff, Michael Kass, Andy Witkin, Pixar Animation Studios
Uses: Pixar´s software plugs scene-specific physical data about, say, the weight of the fabric in a character´s shirt into a series of mathematical equations that determine how it should move. Based on those physical parameters, the software creates lifelike wrinkles and movement.
Credits: Cars, The Incredibles,
Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc.
Winners: Garrett Brown, Moving and Talking Picture Company, Inc.
Uses: Originally developed in 1984, the then-revolutionary Skycam was the first remote-controlled, cable-supported flying camera system. These days, look for it just behind the quarterback during professional football games.
CASCADE CRANE SERIES
Winner Anatoliy Kokush, Filmotechnic
Uses: Filmmakers can expand these lightweight aluminum-alloy cranes up to 70 feet to get shots from previously unreachable locations.
Credits: Van Helsing, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
PERFECT HORIZON CAMERA STABILIZATION HEAD
Winners: David Grober, Scott Lewallen, Motion Picture Marine
Uses: This stabilizing camera head neutralizes the pitching and rolling motion generated by boats, cars and other vehicles, creating a perfectly level horizon.
Credits: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
RUSSIAN ARM CRANE AND FLIGHT HEAD
Winners: Anatoliy Kokush, Yuriy Popovsky and Alex Zolotariov,
Uses: This is the first crane that stabilizes both the camera head and the boom arm with gyroscopes.
Credits: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, X-Men 3, Mission: Impossible 3, War of the Worlds
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.