Arri, Teradek Among Honorees at 73rd Engineering Emmys

Eight companies were recognized with Engineering Emmys at the ceremony last month, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Dolby Laboratories each received an honorary award.

Arri and Teradek were among eight companies recognized with Engineering Emmys at the Television Academy’s 73rd Engineering Emmy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Oct. 21.

The Academy also presented two honorary awards at the event: Netflix founder/CEO Reed Hastings received the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, and Dolby Laboratories received the Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award.

“Engineers, scientists and technologists are a vital part of our industry and are key to the continuing evolution of television,” said Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy. “These extraordinary pioneers and groundbreaking companies we are honoring have advanced the medium and elevate storytelling to a worldwide audience.” 

Engineering Emmys are presented to an individual, company or organization for engineering developments that considerably improve existing methods or innovations that materially affect the transmission, recording or reception of television. 

Arri was recognized for developing the Arri SkyPanel family of ultra-bright LED soft lights, which have optimized the production-lighting workflow and have been widely adopted throughout the TV industry. SkyPanels are efficient, versatile lighting instruments with multiple control options. They can generate accurate color temperatures between 2,800-10,000K with excellent color rendition over the entire range. Lighting directors can control all parameters, including color, hue and saturation, along with pre-programmed lighting effects. 

John Gresch, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Arri, Inc., accepted the Emmy on behalf of the company. “This is truly a great honor,” Gresch said. “On behalf of Arri, especially our lighting engineers in Stephanskirchen, the management team in Munich, and all our worldwide locations, I thank the Television Academy.”

John Gresch of Arri poses with the company's Engineering Emmy. (Photo: © Mark Von Holden/Invision for The Television Academy/AP Images)
John Gresch of Arri poses with the company's Engineering Emmy. (Photo: © Mark Von Holden/Invision for The Television Academy/AP Images)

Teradek’s Nicolaas Verheem, Marius van der Watt, Dennis Scheftner and Zvi Reznic were recognized for developing the Teradek Bolt 4K, a zero-delay, wireless video-transmission system for on-set monitoring. Bolt 4K has been critical in implementing changes needed to support social-distancing protocols. Today, tens of thousands of Bolt transmitters and receivers — owned by camera operators, DITs, drone pilots, production companies and rental houses — are working to efficiently service all TV productions.

“We are honored to receive this award,” said Verheem, Teradek’s founder and CEO. “The Bolt was forged over almost a decade of hard work with a relentless focus on the customer.”

Verheem also credited Meir Feder, head of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science at Tel-Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering, for his work as one of the principal inventors of the Bolt’s underlying technology. Other significant contributions were made by Ryan Barber, Greg Smokler and Ilya Issenin of Creative Solutions, he added.

From left: Marius van der Watt, Zvi Reznic, Nicolaas Verheem and Dennis Scheftner pose with Teradek's Engineering Emmy. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Invision for The Television Academy/AP Images)
From left: Marius van der Watt, Zvi Reznic, Nicolaas Verheem and Dennis Scheftner pose with Teradek's Engineering Emmy. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Invision for The Television Academy/AP Images)

The Television Academy also presented Engineering Emmys to the following:

Arnold Global Illumination Rendering System: Marcos Fajardo, Alan King, Thiago Ize

Arnold is a photo-realistic, stochastic, ray-tracing renderer widely used by visual-effects and animation studios around the world. Taking an artist-friendly approach, Arnold faithfully simulates the light-transport equation at render time without relying on problematic caching methods. Extensive scientific research, as well as algorithmic, system and low-level optimizations, were required to reduce memory usage and render time. Arnold’s high-quality rendering and ease of use have made it popular for TV productions.

Cedar Studio: Cedar Audio Ltd.

Cedar Studio was developed specifically to meet the needs of audio professionals in film and TV postproduction. Originally comprising four processes, it has grown to provide a wide range of tools for cleaning and restoring audio; these include the industry-standard dialogue noise suppressors as well as Retouch, the process that introduced spectral editing to the industry. Cedar Studio allows users to eliminate a wide range of problems and provides results quickly and efficiently. 

Golaem Crowd: Golaem 

Golaem Crowd helps artists populate TV shows, films and game cinematics in minutes by procedurally animating thousands of characters with advanced behaviors in real time and with complete artistic control. Golaem functions permit automatic navigation of characters, path planning and steering behaviors, including reactive collision avoidance, in order to create realistic human behaviors. Golaem is now a ubiquitous tool in CG-character generation across the TV industry. 

Massive: Stephen Regelous 

Massive is a pioneering software package that first gave artists the ability to simulate crowds using an artificial intelligence-based approach. It enables artistic control with a cost-effective means to simulate realistic crowd behavior in a flexible fashion by building autonomous behavior via its node-based brain system. Massive has been used on many Emmy-winning shows and was the first package to make it possible to create large crowds at scale. 

Scriptation: Steve Vitolo, Felipe A. Mendez P., Franco Zuccar 

Scriptation automates the process of transferring handwritten notes, annotations and verbal comments to a script and redistributing to all departments. Now all personal notes, annotations and diagrams carry over to new versions of the script that are redistributed automatically. Departments can share their notes about the script with all other departments in one place, facilitating streamlined communications and better understanding of the overall script plan. Scriptation has become a popular application, adding efficiency through environmentally conscious workflows and clear communication.

V-Ray: Chaos 

V-Ray is a physically based rendering and adaptive raytracing solution used to create photo-realistic visual effects in episodic production since 2003. Optimized to handle large production scenes, V-Ray is used to render digital environments, digidoubles, creatures, vehicles and more in a highly efficient way. By accurately calculating global illumination and the distribution of light, as well as the physical properties of any material, the software ensures a seamless blend of real and virtual elements on screen. 

The Television Academy’s Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award honors a living individual whose ongoing contributions have significantly affected the state of TV technology and engineering. 

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, began revolutionizing how the world is entertained in 1997, when he conceived the idea of a subscription-based movie-rental service. A decade after Netflix began sending DVDs through the mail, Hastings realized internet TV was a better way to distribute filmed entertainment. Netflix received an Engineering Emmy in 2012 for developing game-changing algorithms that recommend programming to subscribers based on their viewing preferences. The Netflix cloud infrastructure, cloud-based video encoding and encryption, cloud-based bookmarking, multiple-profile stream encryption, "Open Connect" content-delivery network, adaptive streaming technology, dynamic app updates and personalization technologies deliver the service at scale with 99.99% availability. The major patent portfolio that Netflix has developed, combined with the scale of service delivery, widespread market use of the services and the validation of an alternative business model for TV distribution, is changing the industry in fundamental ways.

The Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award honors an agency, company or institution whose contributions over time have substantially impacted television technology and engineering.

Since its founding in 1965 by Ray Dolby, Dolby Laboratories has been a significant innovator and contributor to the TV industry in audio and imaging technology. Early work involved the creation of the Dolby noise-reduction system and Dolby Stereo, which improved the sound quality of music and film. As digital audio recording and distribution emerged, the family of Dolby Audio technologies became ubiquitously adopted for over-the-air broadcasting, streaming and physical disc distribution of TV content. Recently, Dolby Atmos, providing an immersive sound experience, and Dolby Vision, providing more contrast, colors and brighter images with better specular highlights, have been brought to the home market. These are but a few of Dolby’s innovations that have improved the quality of television storytelling. 

The 73rd Engineering Emmy Awards were sponsored by Television Academy corporate partners Kia America and People.

The awards were overseen by a committee comprising John Leverance, chair; Wendy Aylsworth; Stuart Bass, ACE; Bob Bronow, CAS; Jeff Calderon; Jim DeFilippis; Greg Gewickey; David Ginsberg; Frank Morrone, CAS; David Plakos; Jeffrey Riedmiller; Michael Ruscio; ASC associate member Leon Silverman; Derek Spears; David Stump, ASC; Craig Weiss and Barry Zegel. 

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