Hosting Oscar organizers' Scientific and Technical Awards on Saturday night, actress Milla Jovovich, a veteran of effects-driven movies like the "Resident Evil" franchise, confessed she knew little about what actually goes on behind the cameras.
"I'm not an expert in technology. However I will say that as an actor, I certainly benefited from the many innovations you bring to filmmaking," she told a packed ballroom of technical wizards being honored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills.
The annual awards event is typically overshadowed by the Academy Awards, or Oscars, which will be given out on February 26 for the best film, performances, directing, writing and other film work of the year.
Saturday's scientific and technical awards were reserved for honorees including Douglas Trumbull, recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for work that has "brought credit to the industry."
Trumbull has been at the forefront of visual effects for decades, working on classics like "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Blade Runner" and more recently, "The Tree of Life," a contender in this year's best film race.
He spoke to the audience about rapidly changing technology in cinema and challenges facing the industry as attendance dips.
"I think we can make movies that make people say, 'I'm going to go out to a movie tonight because it's so cool, it's so big, it's so grand and it's so spectacular and there's so much showmanship," said Trumbull. "I think we can bring movies to new heights."
Other scientific and technical winners included the late John D. Lowry, inventor of the Lowry technique that is used to enhance image quality. Lowry died in his sleep only three weeks ago on January 21. Upon accepting the honor in his absence, his widow kissed the plaque then held it to the heavens.
Honorees also included achievements in lens development, high-speed digital camera systems, camera stabilization rigs and high-resolution stock used in archival preservation.
Visual effects guru Jonathan Erland was awarded the John A. Bonner Medal for a lifetime of dedication to the academy. With a career spanning over 50 years, Erland joined legendary effects house Industrial Light & Magic in the 1970s and worked on such classics as "Star Wars."
The academy's science and technical awards chairman, Erland holds a patent for the Blue-Max flux projector, a traveling matte process, and was instrumental in establishing visual effects as a separate branch of the Academy.
"The real task before us is to manage the present so that motion pictures stay relevant to the academy's mission and the ideals we espouse," declared Erland. "When all motion pictures are excellent, then, perhaps, we can talk about a new vision for this body.