Red Digital Cinema, NASA and Technicolor’s Michael Hatzer were among the winners at the HPA Awards, which also saluted Larry Chernoff with Lifetime Achievement honors.
Photos by Ryan Miller, courtesy of Capture Imaging
On Thursday, Nov. 16, the Hollywood Professional Association— which defines itself as “a trade association serving the professional community of businesses and individuals who provide expertise, support, tools and infrastructure for production, postproduction, distribution and archiving of motion pictures, television, commercials and other media content” — presented its 12th annual HPA Awards during a gala ceremony held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
Welcoming the audience, HPA President Seth Hallen joked, “Here we’ve gathered many of Hollywood’s best and most introverted. Many of us are used to being alone in small, dark edit bays. Look what we’ve done. You’ve all been dragged out to a big, crowded hall with lots of lights and people. But it’s going to be okay. We’ll all get through this together. We’re almost at the after-party.
“Every year, it’s incredibly exciting to watch this event grow and to be embraced by the community that we serve,” Hallen continued, adding that the awards play an important role in “drawing attention to the incredible work and talent that is represented here.”
This year witnessed a record number of submissions in the creative and engineering categories. Tasked with determining which organizations and individuals would receive top honors was a distinguished group of judges, which included ASC members Bill Bennett, Peter Moss, Daryn Okada, Robert Primes, Steven Shaw, David Stump and Amelia Vincent, as well as ASC associates Reid Burns, Gray Marshall, Leon Silverman and Joachim Zell.
Zell and SMPTE executive director Barbara Lange took the stage to present the event’s Engineering Excellence Awards, which this year were sponsored by HGST. Four companies received HPA Engineering Excellence Awards in recognition of outstanding technical and creative ingenuity: Colorfront earned an award for its Colorfront Engine, an automatically managed, ACES-compliant color pipeline that brings plug-and-play simplicity to complex production requirements; Dolby was saluted for its Dolby Vision postproduction tools, which integrate into existing color-grading workflows for both cinema and home deliverables; Red Digital Cinema received an award for the Weapon camera with Dragon 8K VV sensor; and SGO was honored for its Mistika VR finishing solution. Additionally, honorable mentions were bestowed on Canon USA Inc., for the company’s critical viewing reference displays, and to Eizo Inc., for the ColorEdge CG318-4K monitor.
The HPA Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation was presented to NASA, Amazon Web Services and AWS Elemental for the organizations’ combined efforts that led to the first live 4K stream from the International Space Station. The 4K live stream took place on April 26, 2017, via three primary workflows based on AWS Elemental software and AWS services. Live 4K streaming promises to further enhance NASA’s ability to observe, uncover and adapt new knowledge of orbital and deep space.
The creative awards categories kicked off with presenter Robert Legato, ASC, who opened the envelopes for Outstanding Visual Effects. In this category, the HPA saluted Robert Sethi, Chris Knight, Tom Graham and Jason Bergman of The Mill (Kia, “Hero’s Journey”); Erik Henry, Martin Lippman of Rodeo, and Yafei Wu, Nicklas Andersson and David Wahlberg of Important Looking Pirates (Black Sails, “XXIX”);and Dan Lemmon, Anders Langlands, Luke Millar, Erik Winquist and Daniel Barrett of Weta Digital (War for the Planet of the Apes).
Blackmagic Design sponsored this year’s Outstanding Editing awards, which went to Chris Franklin of Big Sky Edit (Nespresso, “Comin’ Home”); Dean Zimmerman (Stranger Things, “Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers”); and Lee Smith, ACE (Dunkirk).
Outstanding Sound awards were presented to Anthony Moore of Factory (Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, “We’re the Superhumans”); Bradley North, Joseph DeAngelis, Kenneth Kobett, David Werntz and Tiffany S. Griffith of Technicolor Hollywood (American Gods, “The Bone Orchard”); Craig Henighan of Fox, and Bradly North, Joe Barnett, Adam Jenkins, Jordan Wilby and Tiffany S. Griffith of Technicolor Hollywood (Stranger Things, “Chapter 8: The Upside Down”); and Addison Teague, Dave Acord, Chris Boyes and Lora Hirschberg of Skywalker Sound (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2).
The creative categories concluded with Outstanding Color Grading, presented by cinematographer-director Uta Briesewitz, ASC. “When I was on set as a cinematographer, there were days when we would be working in really tough conditions,” Briesewitz reflected. “Everybody was exhausted, and we all had to hustle to get that one last shot of the day, and the director seemed at the end of his or her wits. In that case, I’d say to them, ‘Just imagine: [in] a couple of weeks we’ll be sitting with the color timer. You’ll be in a nice air-conditioned room, lounging on a nice sofa.’
“That was the light at the end of the tunnel,” she continued. “As a director and cinematographer, working with a great timer is when you get to take your work and refine it. You work with another artist who not only helps you to achieve your final vision and pull the whole project together, but you get another pair of highly trained eyes at your side that can inspire you to experience your own work in a new light.”
The Outstanding Color Grading Awards were presented to Tom Poole of Company 3, for the Jose Cuervo commercial “Last Days” (Poole was also nominated for the Squarespace commercial “John’s Journey”); Asa Shoul of Molinare, for The Crown, “Smoke and Mirrors”; and ASC associate Michael Hatzer of Technicolor Hollywood, for Ghost in the Shell (AC May ’17). Also nominated were Billy Gabor of Company 3 (Land O’ Lakes, “The Farmer”); Dave Hussey of Company 3 (Pennzoil, “Joyride Tundra”); Sofie Borup of Company 3 (Nedbank, “The Tale of a Note”); Timothy Vincent of Technicolor Hollywood (The Last Tycoon, “Burying the Boy Genius” [AC Aug. ’17]); Joe Finley of Chainsaw (Game of Thrones, “Dragonstone”); Pankaj Bajpai of Encore Hollywood (Genius, “Einstein: Chapter 1” [AC July ’17]); Roy Vasich of Technicolor (The Man in the High Castle, “Detonation”); ASC associate Steven J. Scott of Technicolor (The Birth of a Nation [AC Nov. ’16] and Doctor Strange); Natasha Leonnet of EFilm (Hidden Figures [AC Jan. ’17]); and ASC associate Stefan Sonnenfeld of Company 3 (Beauty and the Beast).
Accepting his award for Ghost in the Shell, Hatzer — who was also nominated for his work on Fences (AC Jan. ’17) — offered, “I want to thank the HPA for this fantastic award. I’m truly honored to be associated with all these talented artists here tonight.” Among his acknowledgments, Hatzer added, “I want to thank [director] Rupert Sanders and cinematographer Jess Hall [BSC] for allowing me to be a part of their team in creating this amazing film.”
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Larry Chernoff, CEO of postproduction-services provider and restoration, dailies-processing, and workflow-management software developer MTI Film. Chernoff grew up in Manhattan, where he began working as an editor at age 18. After attending New York’s School of Visual Arts, he moved to Los Angeles and joined commercial editing company Filmcore, where, two years later, he became a partner. From there, he played a lead role in founding post houses Encore and Riot, and he later served as president of 4MC, which eventually became Ascent Media Creative Services. He joined MTI Film as a board member in 2003, and two years later was named the company’s CEO.
In a speech that emphasized “people before profits,” Chernoff offered, “For postproduction, this is a time for innovation, not only in technology but also in how businesses are run. Don’t rely on the cynical norms of yesteryear. Let’s have our companies interact because that’s the way we can be successful. There are no winners when you don’t work together.”