Sony executives celebrate their win at the 68th Annual Emmy Engineering Awards.
Dream big and pursue your passion.
That was the unofficial theme of the 2016 Engineering Emmy Awards, which capped the 2016 Emmy season by bestowing eight honors for innovative achievements in technology.
One set of winners had given up their jobs in the corporate world to focus on developing software for collaboration across departments in television and film production. Another winner took a chance in switching fields to work where his heart lay, in postproduction.
Keep those frequent flier miles handy was also apropos: winners hailed from England, Australia and Japan (twice), as well as from Los Angeles and other U.S. locales.
Held October 28 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel and hosted by Kirsten Vangsness, who plays technical analyst Penelope Garcia on the CBS procedural Criminal Minds, the evening saluted, as Television Academy president and COO Maury McIntyre said in his welcome, the individuals and companies who "often have the most impact on television, both today and well into the future. You are the people who change the way we make television. You improve it, you enhance it, you provide the means for storytellers to tell their stories in whole new ways."
This year's winner of the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors a living individual whose contributions have significantly affected television technology and engineering, was Dr. John C. Malone, chairman of the board of Liberty Media Corporation, Liberty Interactive Corporation, Liberty Broadband Corporation and Liberty Global plc.
Both an electrical engineer and an astute businessman, Dr. Malone revolutionized the nascent cable television industry as the longtime head of Tele-Communications, Inc. (since merged with AT&T Corp.), taking the company from the tenth-largest U.S. cable company to the largest. He was also an early investor in BET and helped save CNN from a takeover.
Dr. Malone accepted via a video message: "It's a great honor to receive this Emmy for my contributions to engineering in the television industry. I've spent my entire lifetime growing up and participating in a great industry. Thank you very much."
The Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award, which honors an agency, company or institution whose contributions have had a significant impact on television technology and engineering, was presented to NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories (NHK STRL).
The company's innovations over the decades have included a United States-Japan satellite relay broadcast for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, direct satellite broadcasting service, HDTV, plasma display and UHDTV development.
Accepting was Koki Morinada, NHK STRL executive director and chief of engineering, who noted that the company has been creating "cutting-edge resources" for broadcasters since 1930, and began testing its first 8K broadcasting by satellite this past August.
"We are delighted that this innovation has transformed the breadth and depth of the capabilities of broadcasters, both in Japan and worldwide," he added, promising that there will be more such advances. "Thank you very much for this great honor."
Six Engineering Emmys were presented, recognizing significant engineering developments or innovations that affect the transmission, recording or reception of television. Those recipients were:
SyncOnSet, a software application which facilitates collaboration and communication across all production departments, keeping track of costume and set prop inventory and location information; organizing photos by scene and character and providing the ability to upload continuity photos, among other features. Creators Alexander Loverde, Brett Beaulieu-Jones and Jeffrey Impey were the ones who had left their corporate jobs to pursue their dream. Thanking those who supported them along the way, CEO Loverde noted, "The people who truly make innovation like this possible are our courageous and fearless customers, the people who break away from the tradition of how things are done, who strive to make their work better every single day."
Ncam Technologies, whose camera tracking system facilitates the real-time integration of live-action and computer-generated elements in broadcasts. The technology, which works with any kind of camera, creates a 3D image of a particular environment by using two high-speed witness cameras and several mechanical sensors, and has been utilized by clients as diverse as the Super Bowl and the Weather Channel. Said chief technology officer Sam Boivin in acceptance,
"I'd like to thank the whole [awards] committee for deciding to reward us. It's such a great honor for me to be here. Four-and-a-half years ago, there were only three of us. I'm very proud of all the work [all the company employees] have accomplished. I'm so grateful."
Sony Corp., for the technology which created the first 2/3-inch 4K three-sensor system incorporated in the Sony HDC-4300 Series camera. The camera implements 2/3-inch CMOS imagers with full 4K resolution, resulting in remarkable HD and 4K pictures; affords multiple frame-rate imaging; enables 4K and HD High Dynamic Range Images and enables the creation of multiple HD Cutout images from the 4K image canvas.
"Sony takes great pride … and I personally take a huge pride" in being involved in this work, said Hiroshi Kiriyama, senior general manager of Sony's media segment business division. "This is the best industry to be in. … It is our wish to continue contributing to the production industry. Thank you very much."
Saunders Electric, for its Mobile UPS Power Station, a distribution system which provides power to the technical components of a live broadcast; in case of a utility power outage, the fully automated system seamlessly transfers power to the onsite generator, without interruption of power, and does so with a green approach to reducing carbon emissions.
Noting that the company has powered more than 12,000 live broadcasts over the years, including the Emmy Awards, Russell Saunders said in acceptance with wife Candace Saunders that "It's time for you to require that the electricians [be held] to the standard you hold each other to – which is the standard of excellence and progress and development and application. You can't just walk up and plug it in anymore."
Zaxcom, Inc. for its innovations in digital wireless technology, including the recent development of a production tool which combines the digital wireless transmission microphone system the company had previously invented with a recording device within an actor's body pack.
Exhorted Zaxcom president Glenn Sanders, accepting with director of engineering Howard Stark, "Love what you do; have passion for what you do. That's what we do. We want to do things that are going to enhance what this industry does. We want to make sure we add something to the playbook of how to produce television programming. I'm honored to be here."
Group It For Me!, for its development of an algorithm that is 1,500 times faster than the manual process for grouping media generated in television production; content can be grouped in seconds to be distributed to producers, editors and others in the postproduction workflow.
Chief technology officer Jason Jamieson reaffirmed the evening's "dream it-do it" theme in his acceptance. "I'd just like to take this opportunity to implore anybody that might watch this speech eventually to fervently pursue your dreams and innovate," he said. "I come from a low socio-economic background, but I had a dream and it was the passionate perseverance of that dream that has led me here tonight. Thank you."
Barry Zegel is chair of the Engineering Awards Committee.