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And…Action! Standards Play a Leading Role at the 2010 Oscars

Last night, as millions of people around the globe tuned in to watch Hollywood's who's-who walk the red carpet for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, or "Oscars," standards were in the house, on the screen, and behind the curtain making the magic of the movie industry's biggest night possible.

While motion picture technology is developing in new directions - and dimensions - most movies, including many of this year's Best Picture nominees such as The Blind Side and An Education, are still recorded on 35-millimeter (mm) film. The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 36, Cinematography, Working Group (WG 1), Production technology, has developed a large number of standards related to motion picture photography, sound recording, reproduction, and projection.

ISO 23:1993, Cinematography -- Camera usage of 35 mm motion-picture film, specifies the location of the photographic emulsion, the orientation of the areas intended for the picture and photographic sound exposures, and the frame rate for 35 mm motion-picture film cameras. The U.S. holds the Secretariat to ISO TC 36, which the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has delegated to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer. SMPTE also leads the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to this TC.

In contrast to those traditionally filmed flicks, the sci-fi/fantasy box-office behemoth Avatar was shot entirely with digital cameras. INCITS/ISO/IEC 13818-2-2000 (R2006), Information Technology - Generic Coding of Moving Pictures and Associated Audio Information: Video, specifies the coded representation of picture information for digital storage media and digital video communication and specifies the decoding process.

This standard was developed by the ISO and International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1, Information technology, Subcommittee 29, Coding of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information. The U.S. leads JTC 1, with ANSI holding the secretariat and Karen Higginbottom acting as chairperson. The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) serves as the administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to SC 29.

INCITS, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, has adopted ISO/IEC 13818-2-2000 (R2006) as an American National Standard (ANS).

Movie sets, whether on-location or in a studio, can create unique hazards for cast and crew as they recreate dramatic scenes of real-life or fantasy. From the fiery bombs of Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker to the machinery and materials used in District 9, unusual environments are the norm when movies are being made. To assure fire safety on soundstages and on location, NFPA 140-2008, Standard on Motion Picture and Television Production Studio Soundstages, Approved Production Facilities, and Production Locations, 2008 Edition, provides complete safety requirements for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of facilities used in motion picture and television industry productions. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an ANSI member and audited designator, developed this standard.

While the Oscars are all about movies, the awards show itself is both a live theatrical event at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and a television broadcast reaching all around the world. To assure the safety and efficacy of stage lights like those used to illuminate the illuminating Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, UL 1573 (Ed. 4), Standard for Stage and Studio Luminaires and Connector Strips, provides guidelines for the spotlights, floodlights, footlights, and other stage and studio luminaires rated 600 volts or less for use in theaters, studios, and similar locations. This standard was developed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an ANSI member and audited designator.

To get the complex combination of on- and off-stage lighting just right for the live attendees as well as the millions in the television audience, show producers need reliable methods of assessing illumination. ANSI/IESNA LM-73-04, Photometric Testing of Entertainment Lighting Luminaires Using Incandescent Filament Lamps or High Intensity Discharge Lamps, describes a standard procedure by which entertainment lighting luminaires specifically designed for use in the theater, TV environment, film studios, or on-location shoots can be measured. This ANS was developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

To keep those hoisted lights shining safely for hours above all the smiling stars below, the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA), an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer, offers ANSI E1.15 - 2006, Entertainment Technology--Recommended Practices and Guidelines for the Assembly and Use of Theatrical Boom & Base Assemblies. This ANS gives advice on boom and base assemblies, simple ground-support devices for lighting equipment, and accessories used on stages and in television or film studios.

Unless you happen to be Nicole Kidman, you probably watched the Academy Awards on television from the comfort of your living room. Lucky for you, standards make television viewing as safe and easy as just sitting on your couch. UL 1416, Overcurrent and Overtemperature Protectors for Radio- and Television- Type Appliances, developed by UL, provides requirements for temperature and current protectors used in radio- and television-type appliances when the protectors are relied upon to limit power, current, or both, and where the equipment is to be supplied by a maximum 20 A branch circuit.

To assure that the Oscar broadcast is reliably delivered to those millions of home screens, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, has published ANSI/SCTE 07 2006, Digital Transmission Standard For Cable Television. This ANS describes the framing structure, channel coding, and channel modulation for a digital multi-service television distribution system that is specific to a cable channel.

Whether you got all choked up watching Sandra Bullock's Best Actress acceptance speech, or fell asleep during the first dance number, standards were there to make the 2010 Academy Awards a star-spangled night of fun for film fans everywhere.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]