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Oscar honors geeks at Sci-Tech awards

Garner arrives at the Scientific and Technical Awards Saturday.
Garner arrives at the Scientific and Technical Awards Saturday.

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Jennifer Garner proved her range as actress when a Hollywood audience got to hear the star of ABC's spy drama "Alias" expound on the merits of subsurface light scattering in translucent materials.

Garner hosted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Technical Awards on Saturday night, the pre-Oscar show where the movie industry honors people and companies that have advanced the process of filmmaking.

The technical Oscars are usually presented a few weeks before the main Academy Awards in an annual gala that positions itself as something of a revenge of the Hollywood nerds.

One honoree joked that Garner was the best part of the evening.

"I want to thank the Academy for inviting Jennifer Garner here tonight. Now I can brag to my friends I spent Valentine's Day with Jennifer Garner," said Henrik Wann Jensen, who along with two colleagues won a certificate for their research into subsurface light scattering, which has been used to make more realistic-looking skin on digital film characters.

Garner, who played along gamely earlier in the evening as a magician brought her on stage and attempted to shoot an arrow through a deck of cards clutched over her heart, confessed to being a "supernerd" herself, having originally majored in chemistry in college.

The audience cheered loudly whenever she pronounced a particularly daunting technical term properly.

The main award winners of the night, receiving Oscars for their work, were Digidesign, for developing the Pro Tools digital audio workstation; Bill Tondreau of Kuper Controls, for his work with robotic camera systems; and Peter D. Parks, who won the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for lifetime achievement.

Parks, known for his intricate three-dimensional films of some of nature's smallest creatures, said that his wife had often repeated a mantra to him that kept him focused.

"Mortgage first, health benefits second, education third, pension fourth, dog fifth, and then you can buy that lens," Parks said she told him.

Among those honored with plaques were Kinoton GmbH for its high-speed studio projector; a team from Eastman Kodak Co. for developing an anti-static layer on film that survives processing; Stephen Regelous for developing Massive, the software used to create tens of thousands of warriors for the "Lord of the Rings" battle sequences; and a group of companies for their work in digital audio editing.

A certificate also went to a team headed by Kish Sadhvani for developing a viewfinder for directors that lets them see what their cameras will see without the actual camera equipment.

One of Sadhvani's associates said it was strange for him to be up on stage after years of watching people carry on at awards show. "Tonight they called my name and I want to make a fuss," Carl Pernicone said.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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