Technicolor’s theatrical sound mixing team of Craig Mann and Ben Wilkins (along with production sound mixer Thomas Curley) brought home Oscars at the 87th Academy Awards, for their unique contributions to director Damien Chazelle’s indie classic, Whiplash. The award follows their earlier win at the British Film Academy’s BAFTA Awards. The Oscar win culminated a remarkable year for the film, which premiered at Sundance, just over a year ago, winning multiple festival awards before being acquired by Sony Classics for theatrical distribution. The low budget high-energy story of a young jazz drummer and his sadistic teacher also captured Oscar awards for Best Supporting Actor and Film Editing – making it one of the big winner’s of the night, and one of the biggest surprises of the concluded award’s season.
By winning Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Cinematography, director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was the biggest winner at the 2014 Academy Awards. Another film produced from the heart, on an “indie” budget and brutally tight schedule, the film provided Technicolor’s Hollywood-based feature color-finishing team with one of its greatest challenges, requiring the best of its artistry balanced with an equal measure of innovation. Birdman’s multiple Oscar-winning director of photography, Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC, earlier won the FIND Independent Spirit Award, as well as the British Film Academy BAFTA Award, following his wins one year ago for his indelible contributions to Gravity – also finished by the Technicolor team led by senior supervising colorist Steven J. Scott.
The awards for Birdman culminate a remarkable run for Technicolor’s color-finishing teams at the Academy Awards, going back to Hugo, Life of Pi, as well as last year’s Gravity – all recipients of Oscars for their Achievements in Cinematography, as well as being widely considered the most innovative films of the last four years. Technicolor’s MPC visual effects team won their first Oscar for Life of Pi, and multiple MPC VFX teams were nominated this year for their contributions to Guardians of the Galaxy, and also X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Other Technicolor projects brought home Oscar gold on Sunday night – including The Theory of Everything, color-graded and finished by the company’s Soho, London-based team led by senior digital colorist, Peter Doyle.
The 2014 Academy Awards, like those going back over 70 years since Technicolor established its place in filmmaking history, provide an opportunity to reflect on the consistent role the company has played in Oscar history, and also how the company over its recent past has furthered its legacy of providing the most creative solutions to its customers. Birdman and Whiplash are only the two latest examples. Since 1932, Technicolor and its creative divisions have received 24 technical and scientific achievement awards from the Academy, and also a special Oscar given to company founder, Dr. Herbert Kalmus, in 1939 for the company’s singular contribution to bringing motion picture color to the big screen.