69th Engineering Emmy Awards honor tech innovation
Iain Blair
November 6, 2017

69th Engineering Emmy Awards honor tech innovation

HOLLYWOOD — The Emmy Awards are famous for their celebration of glamorous stars and the art of television excellence, but they also celebrate the science behind that art, and are often the unsung heroes behind all the technical advances that make that art possible. On October 25th, the Television Academy held its 69th Engineering Emmy Awards Show honoring an individual, company or organization for developments in broadcast technology. Kirsten Vangsness, star of the critically acclaimed CBS drama Criminal Minds, hosted the awards for the second consecutive year, at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, once again bringing her trademark quick wit and improv skills to the lively show.

The 69th Engineering Emmy Awards were overseen by such industry heavyweights as Chair Barry Zegel and committee members Wendy Aylsworth, Ruth Adelman, Stuart Bass, Chris Cookson, Jim DeFilippis, Frank Morrone, Leon Silverman, David Stump and Craig Weiss.

Post production has become an increasingly important element in TV production, especially with so many high-profile shows (think Stranger Things) using more and more sophisticated visual effects. So it’s appropriate that Shotgun Software, an Autodesk company that builds scalable, cloud-based software for review and production tracking, won an Emmy for its innovative production management platform designed to streamline collaborative broadcast, episodic animation and visual effects pipelines. Don Parker, VP of platform production, Autodesk, says that the system was “11 years in development” before its release in 2009, and notes that the goal was “to connect producers and artists, the business side with the creative. Even when teams were sharing the same building, it was often frustrating when people tried to access the same information. Now, with post and VFX teams often spread out across the world, that connectivity is even more crucial.”

Providing a centralized hub for producers, managers, directors, artists and supervisors with immediate access to anything from shot status, schedules and directors’ notes to the latest version of a cut, Shotgun has become a ubiquitous and important tool in the complex world of visual effects production. Shotgun has helped creative teams around the world collaborate on hundreds of episodes of top television shows, including Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Americans, Quantico, Ballers, Scandal, Outlander, Black Mirror, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cosmos, Legion, Fear the Walking Dead, The Flash and Hawaii 5-0. More than 1,000 creative companies rely on the platform, including DreamWorks, Framestore, Blizzard, Microsoft, Double Negative and Ubisoft.

The prestigious Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Leonardo Chiariglione, the founder and chairman of Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG). Chiariglione, who has led MPEG in setting the worldwide standards for digital video compression and transmission, was honored for his pioneering technology and innovation efforts. 

The Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award was awarded to the Sony Corporation, whose contributions in technology, content and services have significantly influenced all areas of television production. 

Emmys were also awarded to teams representing the Arri Alexa  camera system, Canon 4K zoom lenses and Fujinon 4K zoom lenses (Canon and Fujifilm [Fujinon]) each independently developed 4K field production zoom lenses for large sensor or super 35mm cameras providing imagery in television that could only be accomplished previously by prime lenses), Disney Global Localization (a pioneering system, method and technology that allows for foreign language dubs and subtitled versions to be efficiently created and released globally), the McDSP SA-2 Dialog Processer (Joseph A. Brennan, Gary L. G. Simpson and Michael Minkler developed the Sonic Assault, an analog dialogue processor, in the 1990s, and Minkler and Colin McDowell updated the original and developed the SA-2 plug-in released in 2015), and High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which has enabled efficient delivery in ultra-high-definition (UHD) content over multiple distribution channels.