A room full of engineers, computer whizzes and technicians brought the
crew of the Starship Enterprise down to Earth for a night at the
Zoe Saldana and Chris Pine hosted the annual awards
dinner in which the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences beams
its spotlight on the latter half of its name.
humbled, by all means, man. We can fly into space because of you,"
Saldana told honorees at the event Saturday night.
and "Star Trek" star pumped her fist and shouted "WETA!" before the
first of two teams from the New Zealand-based special effects house,
which worked on "Avatar," took the stage.
Pine and Saldana took
turns attempting to describe technical accomplishments like "pose space
deformation" and "wavelet turbulence." Pine allowed that one software
innovation was too complex for "dumb actors" to fully comprehend.
was a mostly rare brush with Hollywood glitz for the 26 men who
received plaques, certificates and one statuette on a stage adorned with
four large Oscar statues.
Steve LaVietes, a backend pipeline
architect at Sony Pictures Imageworks, said he often had to "dispel the
misconceptions of friends and family members about our glamorous
lifestyle. Mostly because we sit in the dark typing and drawing diagrams
"Just for tonight we can let that slide because
what's more glamorous than the crew of the Starship Enterprise?" he
said. He was being recognized for work on Katana, software used in "The
Amazing Spider-Man" and "Paranorman" that allows artists to make changes
efficiently to large computer graphics scenes.
honored for creating the Matthews Max menace arm rig used to place
lighting in hard-to-reach spots on sets, choked up after thanking his
"I kind of just built something in my garage," Mall said.
"I'm a little nervous because as a key grip for 36 years, if I see a
camera in front of me, I'm in the wrong place."
supervisor Bill Taylor noted in receiving one of the night's top honors
that the green- and blue-screen pioneer Petro Vlahos, a two-time Oscar
winner, was near death.
"He created the whole of composite
photography as we know it at this time," Taylor said of Vlahos, who he
described as a mentor. "Whenever you see Mary Poppins dancing with
penguins, when you see Pi in a boat in the middle of the ocean you
are seeing Vlahos' genius at work."
Saldana, who danced to the
house band during lulls in the presentation, was the lone woman on
stage. Many of the winners noted long hours spent away from families and
thanked their wives for support of what Drew Olbrich of PDI/DreamWorks
termed "all my geeky endeavors."