Friday, January 5th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Nuke and Houdini developers win technical Oscars

SideFX’s Houdini showreel. Five staff involved in the development of the procedural 3D animation system win 2018 Scientific and Technology Awards, including an Oscar statuette for mathematician Mark Elendt.

Key staff involved in the development of Nuke and Houdini have won this year’s Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, along with the developers of Pixar, ILM, DreamWorks and Rhythm & Hues’ in-house tools.

The winners, who will be presented with their awards at a ceremony in Beverly Hills on 10 February 2018, join a list that in recent years has included the creators of ZBrush, Mudbox, V-Ray and Arnold.

Houdini history, from history: SideFX’s 2007 retrospective, posted when the software was a stripling of 20.

Top honours for veteran SideFX mathematician Mark Elendt
SideFX senior mathematician Mark Elendt wins his fourth Sci-Tech award for his work on Houdini, and its precursor, Prisms: accolades he describes as “a huge honor” and “the highlight of my career”.

This year’s win is Elendt’s first solo award – the first two having been shared with SideFX co-founders Kim Davidson and Greg Hermanovic – and the biggest prize of all: an actual Oscar statuette.

In addition, Elendt’s SideFX colleagues Jeff Lait, Mark Tucker, Cristin Barghiel and John Lynch all win their own first awards – in this case, Academy plaques – for their work on Houdini.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ citation describes Houdini’s dynamics framework as making it the “industry standard for natural phenomena, destruction and other digital effects”.

Key Nuke developers from Foundry and Digital Domain win Academy plaques
Five key Nuke developers win Academy plaques, including Foundry CTO and former Nuke product manager Jon Wadelton, former principal software engineer Abigail Brady, and senior engineer Jerry Huxtable.

They are joined by former Digital Domain imaging supervisor Jonathan Egstad and senior software engineer Bill Spitzak, both of whom worked on Nuke’s first incarnation as DD’s in-house compositing software.

Certificates for the creators of four key in-house rigging and animation systems
Over in the world of proprietary software, the creators of the in-house rigging and animation systems for four of the world’s leading VFX and feature animation houses all win Academy certificates.

Rob Jensen, Thomas Hahn, George ElKoura, Adam Woodbury and Dirk Van Gelder all win for their contributions to Pixar’s celebrated Presto animation system, shown in the demo from GTC 2014 above.

Alex Powell, Jason Reisig, Martin Watt and Alex Wells also win certificates for their work on DreamWorks Animation’s similarly named Premo character animation system.

Other awards go to Jason Smith, Jeff White, Rachel Rose and Mike Jutan for ILM’s Block Party rigging sytem; and Joe Mancewicz, Matt Derksen and Hans Rijpkema for the Rhythm & Hues Construction Kit.

Read the full list of Scientific and Technical Academy Award winners for 2018