While the way we consume pop culture is as varied as ever, an Oscar remains the film industry’s highest honor.
The key elements of the ceremony — the host’s tightrope act, the lengthy, some might say self-congratulatory, running time and the glamorously outfitted stars in the audience — are going to be the same as they ever were. But this year at the 89th Academy Awards, some of the most innovative tech companies will have some significant representation at the main event alongside some of the most storied film studios.
Google is up for an Oscar for Best Animated Short for its virtual reality film Pearl, which released this spring on its YouTube channel as part of its Spotlight Stories program. The film, about a musician and his young daughter traveling home, was directed by Patrick Osborne, who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 2014 with his film Feast.
As the distributor of Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, Amazon became the first streaming service to receive a nomination for Best Picture. In 2015, the company bought the rights to the film for $10 million at the Sundance Film Festival and it seems that the purchase paid off, with acting nods for Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams and two nominations for directing and writing for Lonergan.
Sometimes, it is easy to forget that when the Oscar winners say they would “like to thank the Academy,” they mean The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The arts get the major telecast on Feb. 26, but the Science and Technical award winners have also been announced and will be given out on Feb. 11. This year, 18 winners were selected.
The recipients include:
Weta Digital, the New Zealand-based visual effects company co-founded by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, was recognized for developing a system for more detailed facial motion capture called FACETS.
Panavision and Sony were honored for developing the Genesis digital motion picture camera.
Zaxcom, a New Jersey-based maker of audio equipment, was awarded for designing the building a comprehensive digital wireless microphone system.
It seems that innovation is everywhere in the movies, even if it works so seamlessly you don’t even realize it.