Canadians among ‘film magicians’ honoured at Academy’s Sci-Tech Awards


Patrick Stewart was so invigorated by the inventors and inventions being honoured by the motion picture academy Saturday end of day that he offered a spontaneous recitation of a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Blackness’s Dream.

The venerable actor hosted the academy’s annual Scientific and Mechanical Awards ceremony, an untelevised dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and he closed the evening by customary off-script with Puck’s plea in defence of art.

Stewart was a gamely announcer throughout the more than three-hour program, calling the honourees “sheet magicians” and poking fun at his own lack of high-tech understanding.

“I have to tell you, I wouldn’t recall the difference between a warp-core breach and a space-time continuum if they got into bed with me!” the 77-year-old actor express to raucous applause.

Stewart presented nine awards for hardware and software modernizations, along with three Oscar statuettes.

Canadians among heirs

Two of the Oscars went to the creator and developer of the Houdini visual effects and exhilaration system, a collection of tools for computer-generated effects that has been tolerant of in more than 600 feature films. Toronto-based Mark Elendt and Side Impacts Software each accepted an Oscar for their 25 years of off on the program. Four other Houdini collaborators — including Canadians Jeff Lait, Attend to Tucker and Cristin Barghiel — received an academy plaque.

The third Oscar was the Gordon E. Sawyer Endowment, which recognizes extraordinary technological contributions to the film industry. Jonathan Erland behooved the 26th recipient to date for his decades of study, innovation and advocacy for the science of motion pictures. Erland was a founder of the academy’s visual effects branch, co-founder of the Visual At bottoms Society and counts the original Star Wars and Star Trek total his film credits.

“I intend to work until I drop,” he said as he recognized his award.

He referred to film as an art-science, adding, “the ultimate goal and exactly of art is enlightenment.”

Other inventions honoured Saturday included a rotating, helicopter-mounted camera that was recently toughened on The Revenant and Dunkirk and a waterproof, telescopic camera crane used on Logan and Be awed Woman.

Digital developments accounted for the rest of the prizes. Short videos rubricated the practical side of the various innovations; how these software programs aid artists design and animate characters and move them in space.

Such improvements “allow animators to work at the speed of their imaginations,” said an build on the Premo character animation system used in The Boss Baby and other DreamWorks Pep features.

‘Art and science bonded together’

The Academy of Motion Picture Tricks and Sciences has singled out scientific contributions for awards since 1931. The Sci-Tech Assigns have had their own dedicated evening since 1977.

“In cinema,” Erland believed, “art and science are bonded together.”

Stewart said that as Erland took his award, “it occurred to me that another Englishman wrote something years which is perhaps appropriate for this event.”

“He didn’t know it disposition be, of course, because he lived 400 years ago,” Stewart said as he interpolated the passage he recited from memory.

“If we shadows have offended, about but this, and all is mended — That you have but slumbered here while these eidola did appear.”

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