Join the Hollywood Scene

In this month's Science of Hollywood column, "Inside the Academy's Science and Technology Council", author David Kushner tells us that the people in charge of setting technical standards for the motion picture industry are looking for a few good engineers to join them. "We need the renaissance engineers," said Andrew Maltz, director of the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. So if you've ever entertained thoughts of becoming a star in the movie business, this might be the ticket.

Kushner notes that the council's roots go back to the founding of the Academy in 1927 but that it has only been in the last few years that it has been given any authority to take action. Its primary functions are threefold: preserving technology history, administering public education, and advancing technical innovation. For example, the council is currently archiving documentation—often drawn from applications for the academy's technical awards—into a database they intend to put online, as well as using the equipment they uncover along the way in a future movie technology museum.

"This won't be a theme park," Maltz told Kushner. "It will be a world-class and interesting museum that deals with all aspects of production."

Then there is the advanced technology program. The council has a subcommittee dedicated to pressing issues such as the industry's rapid conversion to digital media. Today, approximately 500 movie theaters are using electronic projectors with files coming from a digital-cinema server. The evolution is happening at each major stage of film production and distribution, Kushner relates. For the past year and a half, leading imaging and processing experts have been convening at the academy to discuss the standardization project. The council's role is to make sure that competitive interests don't hamper innovation.

"We're here to be the Switzerland," Maltz said. "There are competitors in the room, but they have to lay down their swords at the door."

Kushner tells us that with such issues closing in on the industry, there's a greater need than ever for qualified engineers with an interest in filmmaking to join the academy. So if you're ready for your close-up, the Science and Technology Council could be just the place to get your big break in Hollywood.

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