Montreal’s Grass Valley to get technical Oscar for its Viper FilmStream camera

Montreal’s Grass Valley to get technical Oscar for its Viper FilmStream camera

TORONTO — A Montreal company’s pioneering camera that was used on films including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Collateral” will be honoured at the Oscars of the scientific and technical worlds this weekend, an event for “the people who really make the movies.”

Grass Valley will receive a technical achievement award for its Viper FilmStream camera from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Saturday.

“We’ve got multiple Emmy Awards for various camera products and technologies but this is the first award from the motion picture academy, so it’s a big one,” said Mark Chiolis, one of the original members of the Viper FilmStream development team.

Released in 2002, Grass Valley says the Viper FilmStream was the first camera to use raw, high-quality digital images directly from the sensor without any processing.

That allowed directors and cinematographers to preview a scene immediately following a take and enjoy longer shooting times compared to when using film.

The camera has also been used on films including “Zodiac,” “Miami Vice” and “Oliver Twist,” as well as commercials, TV and corporate, government, and medical projects.

“It changed a bit of the workflow and helped revolutionize bringing post-production onto the actual set,” Chiolis said from Los Angeles, where Grass Valley has an office.

“So you can now start editing portions of your project on set and moving things forward quicker.”

Grass Valley is headquartered in Montreal but has offices around the world.

The company dates back to 1959 and has changed hands several times, but its Grass Valley name has been on its products throughout. The academy honour also names Thomson, the former owner of Grass Valley, which is now part of Belden.

Saturday’s awards will be hosted by actors John Cho and Leslie Mann. Portions of the presentation will be included in the Oscar telecast on Feb. 26.

“It’s not quite to the level of the real Oscars, because you don’t have all of the personnel there, you don’t have the Beyonces and Tom Cruise … and people like that who are there,” said Chiolis.

“But the people that are there are the people who really make the movies — the people behind ‘Star Wars,’ the people behind ‘Superman’ and ‘Batman’ and the big effects pictures, ‘Titanic’ and everything that has been done like that.

“So you’re in your own world and these people are the same calibre of the Oscars to those of us on the technical side, so the feeling is the same.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Categories: Arts & Culture, Business

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