Thursday, January 12, 2012

News roundup: Rules changed, honorees named

It was busy Wednesday and Thursday for the Academy, as Oscar Sunday draws ever closer. From rule changes officially announced to honorees named, this is your news roundup.

Documentary, short films rule changes
Documentary Feature rule changes for the 2013 Oscars were confirmed Sunday and officially announced Thursday.

After of slew of buzz and reports about changes to Documentary Feature rules hit the web, the Academy confirmed the changes Thursday.

Word of the changes started spreading among documentary filmmakers and others on Sunday, Jan. 8, according to an article by Michael Cieply of The New York Times.

Ric Robertson, the Academy’s chief operating officer, confirmed the plan to Cieply.

In the article, Cieply reported that the Academy was ready to require a movie review from The New York Times or the Los Angeles Times to qualify a documentary for the Academy Awards.

The Academy's Board of Governors approved that rule change, along with others for the short film categories for the 85th Academy Awards at Dec. 6 meeting, according to a Thursday press release.

The "most significant changes," said the release, will allow more members to vote in the Documentary Feature, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories.

Another change allows for Academy members to view eligible films on "digital or DVD screeners" for Documentary Feature and the short film categories.

The new rules follow:
In the Documentary Feature category, the entire Documentary Branch will now receive all eligible titles beginning in the first round of voting. To facilitate this change, filmmakers must submit 200 DVDs, an increase from the 30 that had been required in previous years. In the final round of voting in this category, members must still see all the nominated films, but the viewing of films on digital or DVD screeners will now be an option for satisfying this requirement.

A documentary feature film’s eligibility will continue to depend on completing seven-day qualifying runs in both New York and Los Angeles that are advertised in at least one major newspaper, as specified by Academy rules, in each city. For the 85th Academy Awards, however, a review by a movie critic in The New York Times and/or the Los Angeles Times will also be required.

In the Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories, members will still have to see all the nominated films before casting their final ballots, but viewing the films on screeners will now be an option for satisfying this requirement. Films that are shown during their theatrical run in a non-standard format, such as IMAX, will have to be submitted to the Academy in a standard theatrical aspect ratio and in a format currently accepted for Academy exhibition to remain eligible. Producers may provide additional screenings of their films in non-standard formats, but members’ attendance at such screenings will not be required for voting purposes.

Other rules changes for the documentary and short films categories include normal date changes and minor "housekeeping" changes.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.

Honorees announced for the Scientific and Technical Awards
Douglas Trumbull will receive the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, the Academy's Board of Governors voted. Trumbull, a visionary filmmaker who has worked as a designer, director, inventor and entrepreneur, will be honored for his lifetime of technical contributions and leadership in the film industry, according to a Wednesday press release.

Trumbull, will be presented with an Oscar statuette at the Scientific and Technical Awards presentation on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Beverly Wilshire. He is known as a visual effects pioneer with major contributions to films including "2001: A Space Odyssey," "The Andromeda Strain," "Silent Running," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Star Trek – The Motion Picture," "Blade Runner" and "Tree of Life."

A three-time Academy Award nominees for Visual Effects, Trumbull also received a Scientific and Engineering Award in 1992 as part of the design team for the CP-65 Showscan Camera System for 65mm motion picture photography.

He will be the 23rd recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, which was established in 1981 and is presented to "an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry."

Visual effects technologist Jonathan Erland will receive the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, the Academy announced Thursday.

The award, voted on by the Board of Governors, will also be presented on Feb. 11 at the Scientific and Technical Awards.

Erland joined a newly created Industrial Light & Magic to work on the visual effects for 1977's "Star Wars." He continued work in the growing visual effects field as director of research and development for Apogee Productions. His future innovations also earned Academy Scientific and Technical Awards.

In 2007, Erland received an Award of Commendation for "his leadership and efforts toward identifying and solving the problem of High-Speed Emulsion Stress Syndrome in motion picture film stock."

An Academy member since 1984, Erland was instrumental in establishing Visual Effects as a separate Academy branch in 1995. He has served 11 years on the Board and many years on the Executive Committees of both the Visual Effects Branch and the Scientific and Technical Awards. He also is a founding member of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council.

Named in honor of the late director of special projects at Warner Hollywood Studios, the John A. Bonner Medal is awarded for "outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

Other award recipients at this year's Sci/Tech Awards can be found here.

Nominations ballots due by Jan. 13
Ballots were mailed to the 5,783 voting members of the Academy on Dec. 27 and are due back no later than 5 p.m. PT on Friday, Jan. 13.

For most of the categories, PricewaterhouseCoopers will tabulate the ballots using the preferential voting system.

Nominees will be announced live on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 5:35 a.m. PT in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at Academy HQ. The 84th Academy Awards will air live on ABC Sunday, Feb. 26, from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.
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