Pagar Oscar

Indian American technologists Parag Havaldar (l) and Kiran Bhat have won the prestigious Oscar for ‘Scientific and Technical Achievement’ for their contribution towards the process of making motion pictures. The winners will be honored at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation Feb. 11, 2017 at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Parag Havaldar/YouTube screengrab; Kiran Bhat/Facebook photo)

Indian American engineer Parag Havaldar, with his specific expertise in computer vision, may have had a big role in the success of Hollywood films like the 2012 fantasy sci-fi film, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” or Disney’s 2013 film, “The Smurfs 2.”

And now, after being associated with several high-profile films as either a software supervisor or a lead software engineer (according to IMDb), the IIT alumnus is being honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Havaldar was Jan. 4 announced the winner of the Technical Oscar for the development of expression-based facial performance-capture technology at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

This pioneering system, explained the Academy, enabled large-scale use of animation rig-based facial performance-capture for motion pictures, combining solutions for tracking, stabilization, solving and animator-controllable curve editing. 

Havaldar, who graduated in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in 1991, has, according to his LinkedIn info, experience in 2D/3D for movies and games, including stereo, motion capture, video/image processing, modelling, texturing and animation. The movies where these solutions were adapted, he states, include the “Amazing Spiderman” series, “Alice in Wonderland,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Hotel Transylvania,” “Beowulf” and “Monster House.”

He has also listed his experience in multimedia technologies — content creation, media compression, networked delivery using multimedia elements images, video, audio, and graphics.

Southern California-based Havaldar is currently employed as the research and development lead at Blizzard Entertainment. He also serves as a part-time faculty member in the computer science department of the University of Southern California.

Another Indian American engineer, Kiran Bhat, is also a recipient of the prestigious Technical Achievement Award. He shares the award with Michael Koperwas, Brian Cantwell and Paige Warner.

The technologists have been honored for the design and development of the ILM facial performance-capture solving system.

This system enables high-fidelity facial performance transfer from actors to digital characters in large-scale productions while retaining full artistic control, and integrates stable rig-based solving and the resolution of secondary detail in a controllable pipeline.

Bhat, who graduated with a Ph.D. in robotics from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, is the co-founder/chief technical officer at Loom.ai. The San Francisco-based startup is building technology for creating personalized and expressive 3D digital avatars from photographs that can be plugged into games, messaging, chatbots, social VR, and e-commerce.

Unlike other Academy Awards to be presented this year, recipients receiving Scientific and Technical Awards need not have been developed and introduced during 2016. Rather, the achievements must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.

The winners will be honored at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation Feb. 11, 2017 at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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