Though the Oscar gala is several weeks away, organizers are handing out the annual Scientific and Technical Academy Awards this weekend.

Canadian Doug James of London, Ont., and Vancouver-based Nils Thuerey are among this year's winners for Wavelet Turbulence, software that's become the go-to technology for making explosions, gas and smoke look more realistic.

James and Thuerey share in the honour — awarded by the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — with international colleagues Theodore Kim and Markus Gross.

Zulekha Nathoo talks to James and members of the visual effects community to examine how Wavelet Turbulence has become an industry standard.

Altogether, 25 people will receive plaques and certificates recognizing their technical achievements in movie-making on Saturday in Los Angeles. Portions of the Scientific and Technical Academy Awards will be included in the main Oscar telecast on Feb. 24.