Award Show Goes Tech: Oscars Everywhere

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Photo Courtesy of Google Images

By: Stephanie Espina

Television viewers were certainly reminded that even though the Academy Awards is a time to honor the best of the best in the world of film, technology plays an essential role in the mission and purpose of the ceremony and organization. When winners often thank “The Academy”, they are not paying tribute to former schooling, they are offering gratitude towards the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Earlier this month, hosted by actress Jessica Biel, the Scientific & Technical Achievement Awards honored the men and women who have contributed to the film industry in extraordinary ways. Academy President Sid Ganis commented on the importance of the Sci-Tech Awards on an online webisode. “It’s where the academy celebrates the technologies and gadgets and lenses and software that make the impossible possible for filmmakers and audiences around the world. It’s where science meets art,” said Ganis. This year’s winners were recognized for specific technologies including the creation of video assist monitors, lighting innovations, compact zoom lenses and motion picture effects photography.

The highly anticipated 81st Academy Awards Presentation, although different than the Sci-Tech Awards, certainly adopted a technological twist through its marketing and presentation. With the inclusion of modern technology, viewing audiences were able to participate like never before. Through Sportvision technology, spectators have been able to witness the virtual first down line in football games, the flaming puck found in National Hockey League broadcasts and NASCAR’s car-tracking system. This same Sportvision technology was used at the Oscars, especially during the well known red carpet event prior to the ceremony. The E! Channel, in particular provided eager viewers with a pre-show broadcast of their annual “Live from the Red Carpet” coverage. Sportvision’s “Star Tracker” image-based system allowed for real-time tracking of red carpet celebrities. This technology was also used at the Golden Globes, but new features including a “three dimensional perspective”, arrows and labels allowed viewers to identify their favorite actors walking within close range to other celebrities.
Photo courtesy of Oscars.org

Photo Courtesy of Oscars.org

“Mobile technology has made great advances in recent years,” said Marist College Media Center Specialist Kyle Carson. “It’s perfect for marketing major events or just getting people interested in what’s going on,” said Carson. In addition to Sportvision technology, the use of mobile technology was used to alert mobile subscribers of Oscar winners and happenings throughout the program. On Oscars.com, many interactive features were available so that viewers would “Play Along”. Here, you were able to sign up for mobile alerts by simply entering your cell phone number. “If it’s easy to use and convenient to sign up over the Internet, people will be more likely to participate,” said Carson. From the online “Thank You Cam” featuring uninterrupted acceptance speeches to the “Oscars Live Challenge” where people could send in predictions and retrieve their score after the show’s completion, viewers had plenty to do on the Internet during commercial breaks.

Even the production of the Academy Awards exercised a new, and appropriately cinematic program unlike previous years. What used to be a straightforward awards ceremony with little detail transformed into an experience of its own. Presenters were accompanied by various lighting techniques, visual tricks, high quality digital video and the musical performances resembling that of a Broadway performance. Carson would agree. “It was a very successful attempt to revamp the Oscars,” he said. “As a person who works in media, I’m excited to see how these technologies will not only upgrade the film industry but how they will be used to package an event like the Academy Awards in future years.”

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