Petro Vlahos

Petro Vlahos (Greek: Πέτρος Βλάχος; August 20, 1916 – February 10, 2013),[1][2] was an engineer and inventor, considered to be one of the pioneering scientific and technical innovators of the motion picture and television industries. Vlahos consistently devised solutions that made the modern blockbuster possible - he is remembered in particular for creating the Ultimatte process, which refined the colour process known as "bluescreening" or alternatively "greenscreening" to solve the transparency, edge-sharpening and "blue spill" problems of simple chroma keying, and combining this with motion control camera technology to create the modern special effects shot. This technology allows film editors in post-production to digitally remove an image of an actor working in front of a usually blue or green colored background and insert him into any computer-generated or other preexisting digital background. In recognition of his contributions he was awarded multiple Oscars, as well as an Emmy Award.

Petro Vlahos
Petro Vlahos
Accepting his second Oscar, c. 1993
Born
Petros Vlahos

August 20, 1916
DiedFebruary 10, 2013 (aged 96)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California at Berkeley
OccupationSpecial Effects Engineer

Early life

Vlahos was born in Raton, New Mexico, the son of Greek[3] immigrants. He showed an early aptitude for electronics and ham radio and in 1941 he gained his Engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He worked as a designer for Douglas Aircraft in World War II, and later as a radar engineer at Bell Laboratories. After the war, he moved to Hollywood and worked for MGM.[1][4]

Hollywood career

The technology used today as a way of combining actors with background footage still derives from the techniques he developed. Vlahos was not the first to use the blue-screen technology—it was invented by Larry Butler for the 1940 filming of The Thief Of Bagdad—but he made the process much more realistic and scientific. He created a system called the sodium vapor matte first for the spectacular 1959 remake of the epic Ben Hur, and later the Disney musical Mary Poppins (1964) which would win him an academy award. He later refined the color-difference bluescreen process that made memorable visual effects possible in films and developed a way to minimize the unfortunate side effects of earlier methods. Vlahos' breakthrough was to create a complicated laboratory process which involved separating the blue, green and red parts of each frame before combining them back together in a certain order. He moved the process along and introduced the use of motion control cameras during bluescreen work. He called his cutting-edge invention the colour-difference travelling matte scheme.

Vlahos-Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola and Vlahos (right)

Along with his son, Paul Vlahos, he founded the Ultimatte Corporation[5] in Chatsworth, California, in 1976. His company's first Ultimatte units were analog "black boxes" which later evolved into advanced, real-time digital hardware and computer software products.

When sci-fi and fantasy films became dominant at the box office, Vlahos’ techniques became dominant in filmmaking, essential to movies such as the Star Wars trilogy. Refinements of his pioneering technique were used to make many of the blockbuster films of the 1990s, notably Titanic (1997), in which dangerous, expensive or difficult to film scenes were finally possible.

In all, Petro Vlahos held more than 35 patents for film-related gadgetry.

Accolades

A member of the Academy’s original Motion Picture Research Council, he was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences many times, starting with a Scientific and Technical Award in 1960 for a camera flicker indicating device.

He won his first Oscar in 1964 for the "conception and perfection of techniques for color traveling matte composite cinematography."[6]

In 1978, Petro won an Emmy Award for Ultimatte Compositing Technology.[7]

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him a Medal of Commendation in 1992. In 1993 he was the recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, his second Oscar.[6]

In 1995 he shared a third Oscar (Academy Scientific and Technical Award)[8] with his son, Paul, for the blue-screen advances made by Ultimatte Corporation.

References

  1. ^ a b Carolyn Giardina, Visual Effects Innovator Petro Vlahos Dies at 96, Hollywood Reporter, 13 February 2013
  2. ^ Kelion, Leo (February 14, 2013). "BBC News - Blue and green-screen effects pioneer Petro Vlahos dies". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  3. ^ "The Greeks of Hollywood". gabbyawards.com. March 25, 2013. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013.
  4. ^ "Petro Vlahos". The Daily Telegraph. London. February 20, 2013.
  5. ^ "Wiest, Landau Win Oscars". Toledo Blade. March 28, 1995. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "A Conversation with Petro Vlahos". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. July 29, 2010. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  7. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (13 February 2013). "Visual Effects Innovator Petro Vlahos Dies at 96". The Hollywood Reporter.
  8. ^ "Oscars given in technical categories". Toledo Blade. January 6, 1994. Retrieved 14 June 2010.

External links

2013 in the United States

Events in the year 2013 in the United States.

86th Academy Awards

The 86th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2013 and took place on March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST / 8:30 p.m. EST. The ceremony was scheduled well after its usual late-February date to avoid conflicting with the 2014 Winter Olympics. During the ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories. The ceremony was televised in the United States by ABC, and produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan and directed by Hamish Hamilton. Actress Ellen DeGeneres hosted the show for the second time, having previously hosted the 79th ceremony held in 2007.In related events, the Academy held its 5th annual Governors Awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center on November 16, 2013. On February 15, 2014, in a ceremony at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by hosts Kristen Bell and Michael B. Jordan.12 Years a Slave won three awards including Best Picture. Gravity won the most awards with seven including Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón. Other winners included Dallas Buyers Club also with three awards, Frozen, and The Great Gatsby with two, and Blue Jasmine, The Great Beauty, Helium, Her, The Lady in Number 6, Mr Hublot, and 20 Feet from Stardom with one. The telecast garnered nearly 44 million viewers in the United States, making it the most watched Oscar ceremony since the 72nd Academy Awards in 2000.

Academy Scientific and Technical Award

The Scientific and Technical Awards are three different Honorary Awards that are given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) during the annual Academy Awards season. The Awards have been presented since the 4th Academy Awards in November 1931, to recognize original developments resulting in significant improvements in motion picture production and exhibition. The Awards are presented at a formal dinner ceremony a couple weeks before the principal Academy Awards ceremony.These awards recognize significant milestones in the development of technology for motion pictures and are conferred by vote of the Academy Board of Governors. Potential nominations for awards are investigated by a special committee within the Academy, "The Scientific and Technical Awards Committee", which presents a written report and recommendation to the Board of Governors.Additionally, the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, given for "outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy", and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, both also considered Honorary Awards, are usually also chosen by the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee and conferred at this annual presentation dinner ceremony.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a 1971 American musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution Company in North America on December 13, 1971. It is based upon the books The Magic Bedknob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1947) by English children's author Mary Norton. The film, which combines live action and animation, stars Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson.

During the early 1960s, Bedknobs and Broomsticks entered development when the negotiations for the film rights to Mary Poppins were placed on hold. When the rights were acquired, the film was shelved repeatedly due to the similarities with Mary Poppins until it was revived in 1969. Originally at a length of 141 minutes, Bedknobs and Broomsticks was edited down to almost two hours prior to its premiere at the Radio City Music Hall. The film was released on December 13, 1971 to mixed reviews from critics, some of whom praised the live-action/animated sequence. The film received five Academy Awards nominations winning one for Best Special Visual Effects. This was the last film released prior to the death of Walt Disney's surviving brother, Roy O. Disney, who died one week later. It is also the last theatrical film Reginald Owen appeared in before his death in 1972; his last two acting credits were for television.

In 1996, the film was restored with most of the deleted material re-inserted back into the film. A stage musical adaptation is in production which is set to debut in 2019.

Chroma key

Chroma key compositing, or chroma keying, is a visual effects/post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on color hues (chroma range). The technique has been used heavily in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture, and video game industries. A color range in the foreground footage is made transparent, allowing separately filmed background footage or a static image to be inserted into the scene. The chroma keying technique is commonly used in video production and post-production. This technique is also referred to as color keying, colour-separation overlay (CSO; primarily by the BBC), or by various terms for specific color-related variants such as green screen, and blue screen – chroma keying can be done with backgrounds of any color that are uniform and distinct, but green and blue backgrounds are more commonly used because they differ most distinctly in hue from most human skin colors. No part of the subject being filmed or photographed may duplicate the color used as the backing.It is commonly used for weather forecast broadcasts, wherein a news presenter is usually seen standing in front of a large CGI map during live television newscasts, though in actuality it is a large blue or green background. When using a blue screen, different weather maps are added on the parts of the image where the color is blue. If the news presenter wears blue clothes, his or her clothes will also be replaced with the background video. Chroma keying is also common in the entertainment industry for visual effects in movies and video games.

Deaths in February 2013

The following is a list of notable deaths in February 2013.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship and reason for notability, established cause of death, reference.

Gordon E. Sawyer Award

The Gordon E. Sawyer Award is an Honorary Award given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to "an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry." The award is named in honour of Gordon E. Sawyer, the former Sound Director at Samuel Goldwyn Studio and three-time Academy Award winner who claimed that a listing of past Academy Awards, arranged both chronologically and by category, represents a history of the development of motion pictures. It was first presented at the 54th Academy Awards, in April 1982. The Gordon E. Sawyer Award is voted upon and given by the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee of the Academy.

John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation upon the recommendation of its Scientific and Technical Awards Committee. The medal is awarded with a citation reading "in appreciation for outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy." The inaugural Medal of Commendation was given at the 50th Academy Awards, in April 1978, and is given irregularly.

List of Greek Americans

The following is a list of notable Greek Americans, including both original immigrants of Greek descent who obtained American citizenship and their American descendants.

List of University of California, Berkeley alumni

This page lists notable alumni and students of the University of California, Berkeley. Alumni who also served as faculty are listed in bold font, with degree and year.

Notable faculty members are in the article List of UC Berkeley faculty.

Matte (filmmaking)

Mattes are used in photography and special effects filmmaking to combine two or more image elements into a single, final image. Usually, mattes are used to combine a foreground image (e.g. actors on a set or a spaceship) with a background image (e.g. a scenic vista or a starfield with planets). In this case, the matte is the background painting. In film and stage, mattes can be physically huge sections of painted canvas, portraying large scenic expanses of landscapes.

In film, the principle of a matte requires masking certain areas of the film emulsion to selectively control which areas are exposed. However, many complex special-effects scenes have included dozens of discrete image elements, requiring very complex use of mattes, and layering mattes on top of one another. For an example of a simple matte, we may wish to depict a group of actors in front of a store, with a massive city and sky visible above the store's roof. We would have two images—the actors on the set, and the image of the city—to combine onto a third. This would require two masks/mattes. One would mask everything above the store's roof, and the other would mask everything below it. By using these masks/mattes when copying these images onto the third, we can combine the images without creating ghostly double-exposures. In film, this is an example of a static matte, where the shape of the mask does not change from frame to frame. Other shots may require mattes that change, to mask the shapes of moving objects, such as human beings or spaceships. These are known as traveling mattes. Traveling mattes enable greater freedom of composition and movement, but they are also more difficult to accomplish.

Compositing techniques known as chroma keying that remove all areas of a certain color from a recording - colloquially known as "bluescreen" or "greenscreen" after the most popular colors used - are probably the best-known and most widely used modern techniques for creating traveling mattes, although rotoscoping and multiple motion control passes have also been used in the past. Computer-generated imagery, either static or animated, is also often rendered with a transparent background and digitally overlaid on top of modern film recordings using the same principle as a matte - a digital image mask.

Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards

A Primetime Emmy Engineering Award is an award given most years by the Television Academy, also known as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). It is a Primetime Emmy Award given specifically for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development. According to the Television Academy, the Primetime Emmy Engineering Award (or Engineering Emmy) is presented to an individual, company or organization for engineering developments so significant an improvement on existing methods or so innovative in nature that they materially affect the transmission, recording or reception of television. The award, which is Television's highest engineering honor, is determined by a jury of highly qualified, experienced engineers in the Television industry.

The Primetime Emmy Awards have been given since 1948 to recognize outstanding achievements in Primetime Television for Performance, for the Creative Arts and for Engineering. The Primetime Emmy Engineering Award is not the same as the Technology & Engineering Emmy Award, which is given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), the Television Academy's sister organization. NATAS gives Emmy Awards in various categories including "Daytime," "Sports," "News and Documentary," and "Public Service."

In addition to the Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards, since 2003 the Television Academy also bestows in most years the Philo T. Farnsworth Award, which is a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award given to honor companies and organizations that have significantly affected the state of television and broadcast engineering over a long period of time, and the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, which has been given in most years since 1991 to one or more individuals whose contributions over time have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering.

The Primetime Engineering Emmys have been given annually since 1978 (the year that ATAS and the NATAS agreed to split ties), although Special Emmys for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development were occasionally bestowed in prior years. The awards which have been given include the Engineering Emmys, which are accorded the Emmy Statuette, and two other levels of recognition, the Engineering Plaque, and the Engineering Citation.

Raton, New Mexico

Raton (ra-TONE) is a city and the county seat of Colfax County in northeastern New Mexico. The city is located just south of Raton Pass. The city is also located approximately 6.5 miles south of the New Mexico/ Colorado border and 85 miles west of Texas.

Sodium vapor process

The sodium vapor process (occasionally referred to as yellowscreen) is a photochemical film technique for combining actors and background footage. It originated in the British film industry in the late 1950s, and was used extensively by The Walt Disney Company in the 1960s and 1970s as an alternative to the more common bluescreen process. Petro Vlahos is credited with the invention or development of both of these processes, and received (with Wadsworth E. Pohl and Ub Iwerks) an Academy Award in 1965 for the sodium vapor process used in Mary Poppins.The process is not very complicated in principle. An actor is filmed performing in front of a white screen that is lighted with powerful sodium vapor lights. Such light glows in a specific narrow color spectrum that falls neatly into a chromatic notch between the various color sensitivity layers of the film so that the odd yellow color does not register on the red, green or blue layers. This allows the complete range of colors to be used not only in costumes, but also in makeup and props. A camera with a beam-splitter prism is used to expose two separate film elements. The main element is regular color negative film that is not very sensitive to sodium light, and the other a fine-grain black-and-white film that is extremely sensitive to the specific wavelength produced by the sodium vapor.This second film element is used to create a matte, as well as a counter-matte, for use during compositing on an optical printer. These complementary mattes allow the various image elements to be cleanly isolated, so that as they are re-exposed onto a single, fresh piece of negative, one at a time and in jigsaw fashion, the various images do not show through one another (as they would using simple double exposure). Acquiring the matte film element (as a first-generation original) at the same time as the live action makes a much better fit during optical printing, because it requires fewer separate, duplicate film generations than does bluescreen (though both processes degrade the image and introduce more "error" to the resulting matte) in the process of achieving sufficiently dense mattes. This increased accuracy ultimately renders the matte "lines" almost invisible, though as with bluescreen, its use may be signaled by hard separation or mismatched coloration and contrast between elements, or in this case, a telltale white/yellow fringe.Disney reportedly made only one sodium vapor camera because only one working prism was ever produced, despite attempts to replicate it. The camera was a retired Technicolor three-strip camera modified to use two films, and used normal lenses for the conventional 1.85-1 aspect ratio. First developed in 1932, Technicolor three-strip cameras ran three rolls of black-and-white film past a beam splitter and a prism to film three strips of film, one for each primary color. In 1952, Eastman Kodak introduced its color negative film, Eastmancolor, which led to Hollywood's discontinuation of Technicolor cameras in 1954.

At the time of its use, the sodium process yielded cleaner results than did bluescreen, which was subject to noticeable color spill (a blue tint around the edges of the matte). The increased accuracy allowed for the compositing of materials with finer detail, such as hair or Mary Poppins' veiled hat. It was also useful that the "sodium yellow" light (and its removal via the matte) had a negligible effect on human skin tones. As the bluescreen process improved, the sodium vapor process was abandoned, its screen and lamps monopolizing huge studios and incurring a higher cost.

The first use of the process was in the J. Arthur Rank Organisation's Plain Sailing in 1956. It was used in Disney films The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It was also used for the Ray Harryhausen film Mysterious Island, produced by Columbia Pictures. Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (produced by Universal Studios) used yellow screen, under the direction of Disney animator Ub Iwerks, in traveling matte shots with birds' rapidly fluttering wings.

The process was used in the 1970s for scenes in Island at the Top of the World, Gus, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Freaky Friday, Escape to Witch Mountain, Pete's Dragon and The Black Hole. Its last known use was in the 1990 film Dick Tracy.

Vlahos

Vlahos or Vlachos (Greek: Βλάχος [ˈvlaxo̞s]), feminine: Vlahou, is a Greek surname, meaning Vlach.

The surname Vlahos/Vlachos may refer to:

Petro Vlahos, Greek-American engineer, bluescreen/special effects pioneer

Alexander Vlahos, Greek-Welsh actor, known for playing Mordred on MerlinAnestis Vlachos,Greek actor and producer

Eros Vlahos, Greek-English actor, known from Game of Thrones

Helen Vlachos, Greek journalist and newspaper editor in the 60's, daughter of Georgios

Georgios Vlachos, Greek journalist, creator of Kathimerini, a daily newspaper in Greece

Leesa Vlahos, Greek-Australian politician

Michalis Vlachos, Greek footballer

Terpsichori Chryssoulaki-Vlachou, Greek WWII resistance member

Tony Vlachos, winner of Survivor: Cagayan

Vangelis Vlachos, Greek footballer

William Vlachos, Greek-American footballer

Zachary Vlahos, Greek-American Olympic rower

Williams process

The Williams process or Williams double matting process is a matte creation technique patented by the American cinematographer Frank D. Williams in 1918. Unlike prior matte techniques, it allowed for the integration of the actors' movements with previously shot backgrounds.

Due to this invention, Williams was able to found his own film lab, the Frank Williams Studio or Frank Williams Laboratories, devoted to the creation of all sorts of special effects (not just the Williams process) and where key figures of the special effects industry such as John P. Fulton worked.

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