We Oughta Be in Pictures: NVIDIANs Honored with Academy Awards for Achievements in Filmmaking

by Nicole Castro

NVIDIA GPUs have been behind every Academy Award-nominated film for Best Visual Effects for 11 years running. But it’s not just our technology that’s been powering a decade’s worth of award-winning work — our people are taking home Oscars, too.

The Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards honor the people whose work has made significant impacts to the development of technology for films. Among the 27 recipients this year, two NVIDIA employees are being recognized for their achievements: Charles Loop, a principal research scientist, and Jos Stam, a graphics researcher.

Loop is the recipient of a Technical Achievement award, and Stam has won the Scientific and Engineering award (his third Sci-Tech Award overall). Their work and research inspired new methods that changed how digital artists represent 3D geometry in films.

Jos Stam accepting his award at the 78th Sci-Tech Awards ceremony.

“This award was an unexpected surprise, but it’s a tremendous honor to be recognized,” said Loop. “I am definitely thrilled. The best part has been the excitement of my kids, who couldn’t wait to brag to their friends and teachers.”

“It’s always amazing and a little surreal, seeing your work influence new ways to make a story better,” said Stam, who also won Sci-Tech Awards in 2005 and 2007. “And now at NVIDIA, I’m excited to apply my experience and explore even more ideas in computer graphics, such as virtual world creation, physics and AI.”

The pair join a growing group of NVIDIANs who have won Academy Awards for their work, including recipient Joe Mancewicz, a senior software engineer who received his second Sci-Tech Award last year.

Other NVIDIANs who’ve won Sci-Tech Awards include:

  • Matt Pharr (2013): Pharr received an award for his work on physically based rendering. It transformed computer graphics lighting and enabled artists to focus more on cinematography rather than rendering.
  • Jonathan Cohen (2007): Cohen was recognized for working on a system of fluid-dynamics tools at Rhythm & Hues. This allowed artists to create realistic animation of liquids and gases.
  • Michael Kass (2005): Kass received an award for pioneering work on computer-generated techniques used to create realistic cloth simulations.
  • Runa Lober and the NVIDIA Advanced Rendering Team (2002): The team was recognized for the invention of global illumination for raytracing of special effects. Global illumination is now the industry standard and is used everywhere today.
  • Christian Rouet (1996): Rouet won an award for the development of a system that creates computer-generated fur and hair in motion pictures.

This year’s Sci-Tech Awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9.