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Academy Awards honour Southampton alumna for innovation to the visual effects industry

Published: 15 February 2018
Abigail Brady with Sci-Tech Awards host, Sir Patrick Stewart

Software developer Abigail Brady has been recognised by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her role in a visual effects tool that has become ‘the backbone of compositing and image processing’ for the movie industry.

Abigail, a former Computer Science student at the University of Southampton, was Principal Software Engineer for Foundry’s Nuke system, a high-end compositing tool that has been used in recent Hollywood blockbusters Blade Runner 2049, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Jungle Book.

She was honoured at The Academy’s Scientific and Technical (Sci-Tech) Awards in Beverley Hills on Saturday 10th February, and received the prize from Star Trek and X-Men star Sir Patrick Stewart. Foundry developers were presented Academy plaques as the body recognised their ‘comprehensive, versatile and stable system that has established itself as the backbone of compositing and image processing pipelines across the motion picture industry’.

“It was a huge surprise to be selected by The Academy and I’m honoured that our work has been recognised for its contribution to the industry,” Abigail says. “In my time at Southampton I was a regular late into the evenings at the Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) labs, working on projects and the student-provided CSLib resource. The solid background in computer science fundamentals that I learned at university were key to me joining Foundry and I hope that many more software engineers can start successful careers from ECS’s facilities and community.”

Nuke is part of a suite of products in Foundry’s portfolio that has been used in every single film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects over the last six years. Jon Wadelton, Jerry Huxtable, Bill Spitzak and Jonathan Egstad were also recognised for their contributions to the compositing software through Sci-Tech Awards this weekend.

Unlike other Academy Awards, Sci-Tech Award recipients do not need to have developed and introduced innovations over the previous year. Rather, the achievements demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.

Ray Feeney, chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee, says, “We are happy to honour a very international group of technologists for their innovative and outstanding accomplishments. These individuals have significantly contributed to the ongoing evolution of motion pictures, and their efforts continue to empower the creativity of our industry.”

Abigail now lives in Camden, London, and is set to join a new startup in the spring.

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