â€If film directors are painters, the awards are for the people who supply the brushes,â€ says Richard Edlund, chair of the Sci-Tech committee. An invention must be novel to win. Depending on how substantial its influence, it can be awarded a certificate, a plaque or, most glorious of all, an Oscar statuette. The Academy honors technologies rather than specific films and doesn´t favor the latest innovations but instead the ones that have proved themselves in the industry. Historically, the awards have gone to mechanical breakthroughs (lenses, films, set lights), but since 2002, digital technology has held the edge. The Academy has no fixed number of honors to allot, no specific categories like Costume Design or Best Picture. They may pass out one Sci-Tech Oscar or five, laud three computer-animation programs or none.
Here, we focus on five key technologies from the 2004 contestants. A couple won awards, the others didn´t, but together they tell the story of filmmaking´s latest evolution. So join the Academy in a Sally Fieldâ€style salute: We like you, Sci-Tech stars. We really like you.