Gordon E. Sawyer Award

Gordon E. Sawyer Award

The Gordon E. Sawyer Award honors an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.

Gordon E. Sawyer was a three-time Oscar winner and former Head of the Sound Department at Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Sawyer, who served as a member of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee from 1936 to 1977, claimed that the lists of past awards, arranged both chronologically and by category, represented a history of the development of motion pictures. After his death, an Honorary Award (an Oscar statuette) was established in his name to recognize “an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.”

The first honoree was named in 1981; a total of 22 individuals have received the award to date. Recommendations for this award have customarily been made through the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.

David A. Grafton

2007 Gordon E. Sawyer Award Recipient

David A. Grafton is a pioneering designer of lenses for optical effects printers. His work has led to dramatic improvements in the quality of motion picture visual effects.

His 2007 Gordon E. Sawyer Award marked the third time Grafton has been recognized by the Academy. He received a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award in 1980 for the optical design of a telecentric anamorphic lens for motion picture optical effects printers, and another in 1986 as part of the team responsible for the design and development of the Zoom Aerial 65mm Optical Printer.

Grafton, who was born in England in 1924 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1953, designed electro-optical systems for over 30 years for IBM, NCR, EG&G and Xerox.

In the 1970s Grafton also began consulting in the motion picture industry, where the highly specialized lenses he designed for optical effects printers enabled the seamless blending of multiple images from different sources. Working with such special effects companies as Industrial Light & Magic and Boss Film Studios, he contributed to the production of numerous feature films, including “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Blade Runner.”

Gordon E. Sawyer Award Recipients

2011 (84th) – Douglas Trumbull

2008 (81st) – Ed Catmull

2007 (80th) – David A. Grafton

2006 (79th) – Ray Feeney

2005 (78th) – Gary Demos

2004 (77th) – Takuo Miyagishima

2003 (76th) – Peter D. Parks

2001 (74th) – Edmund M. Di Giulio

2000 (73rd) – Irwin W. Young

1999 (72nd) – Dr. Roderick T. Ryan

1997 (70th) – Don Iwerks

1995 (68th) – Donald C. Rogers

1993 (66th) – Petro Vlahos

1992 (65th) – Erich Kaestner

1991 (64th) – Ray Harryhausen

1990 (63rd) – Stefan Kudelski

1989 (62nd) – Pierre Angenieux

1988 (61st) – Gordon Henry Cook

1987 (60th) – Fred Hynes

1984 (57th) – Linwood G. Dunn

1983 (56th) – Dr. John G. Frayne

1982 (55th) – John O. Aalberg

1981 (54th) – Joseph B. Walker

Don't Show Again