Los Angeles, CA – Two Indian American scientists including an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur alumnus Parag Havaldar, have won the much coveted Academy Award in the Science and Technical category. The other is Kiran Bhat who got his double degree in EEE and Mechanical Engineering at BITS Pilani.
“This year we are particularly pleased to be able to honor not only a wide range of new technologies but also the pioneering digital cinema cameras that helped facilitate the widespread conversion to electronic image capture for motion picture production,” said Ray Feeney, chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee. “With their outstanding, innovative work, these technologists, engineers and inventors have significantly expanded filmmakers’ creative choices for moving image storytelling” added Feeney.
Havaldar will be awarded the Technical Oscar for the development of expression-based facial performance- capture technology at Sony Pictures Imageworks. This pioneering system enabled large-scale use of animation rig-based facial performance-capture for motion pictures, combining solutions for tracking, stabilization, solving and animator-controllable curve editing.
Havaldar graduated from the Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering at IIT Kharagpur in 1991. He did Masters in Computer Science and PhD in Computer Vision and Graphics from the University of Southern California in 1996. Since then he has been working in the media industry to design/architect software solutions for the multimedia pipeline from authoring, compression, distribution, and digital rights management.
The technology developed by him and his group has been used to create stylized and realistic character animations in a variety of movies including Alice in Wonderland (2010 release), Monster House, Hancock, and Spiderman. Currently he is R&D Lead at Blizzard Entertainment. Havaldar also serves as a part time faculty member in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southern California teaching a graduate course on multimedia.
Bhat’s team will receive the award for design and development of the ILM facial performance-capture solving system.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 18 achievements from 34 individual recipients and five organizations will receive its 2017 Scientific and Technical Awards which will be handed out February 11 at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.