Computer graphics and virtual production innovator Paul E. Debevec — director of research, creative algorithms and technology at Netflix and adjunct research professor at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies — received a standing ovation when he presented the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award. received at the Television Academy’s gleeful 74th Engineering, Science & Technology Emmy Awards.
During the dinner and ceremony at the Maybourne in Beverly Hills on Wednesday evening, 105-year-old camera maker ARRI received the Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award and seven innovations were recognized with Engineering Emmys.
“Not only are we the oldest company here, [but] I think we’re the oldest guys,” joked Matthias Erb, ARRI chairman of the board, who accepted the award on behalf of the camera company. He added: “We want to support the filmmakers, we want to support the industry. This prize is a motivation for us to continue [to innovate].” Other awards, including Debevec and Sohonet CEO Chuck Parker, also highlighted their desire to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in technology.
About 200 guests attended the celebration, where Kirsten Vangsness (criminal minds) opened with much laughter and sang a hodgepodge of well-known songs such as “Running Up That Hill” and “Video Killed the Radio Star”, but with new lyrics on each of the honorable mentions.
Debevec has been recognized for his work in high dynamic range imaging, image-based lighting and photogrammetry, techniques used in computer graphics for VFX such as lighting actors and in virtual production.
Debevec accepted the award and thanked friends, family and collaborators, including director Alfonso Cuarón and VFX professionals Chris Watts, Chris Lawrence and Tim Webber “for using LED image-based lighting for Gravity.” He also thanked John Knoll, an Oscar-winning VFX supervisor from Industrial Light & Magic, “who came to my LED Stage talk for light actors at SIGGRAPH 2002, albeit a little skeptical, and went on to help create the LED lighting stages for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Disney+ streaming shows.”
He also greeted his Netflix Production Innovation colleagues “for everything we’re working on to take everything so much further.”
Engineering Emmys have been awarded to developments in areas such as virtual production, remote collaboration and audio, including Industrial Light & Magic for its virtual production tools StageCraft, which have been used in series such as The Mandalorian. On behalf of the team, Nick Rasmussen thanked the maker of the Star Wars series, Jon Favreau, ILM, other contributors and the development team.
Sohonet was honored for its ClearView Pivot remote collaboration tool, Disguise Systems, the disguise platform that enables interaction between CG and practical elements and environments, including use with LED walls. Geoffrey Crawshaw and William Brinkley were recognized for the Leostream remote access software; Shure for the Axient Digital wireless audio system; Stype Cajic, Andrija Cajic, Daniel Kruselj and Ivica Antolkovic for the Stype camera tracking tools; and Mark Hills and Marc Bakos for the Cleanfeed remote audio review/recording system.
During the merry evening, participants also celebrated the recent establishment of the Television Academy’s Science and Technology Peer Group.