British Columbia

Oscars 2015: Robert Bridson, UBC mathematician, gets Academy Award for Hobbit, Gravity, Avatar work

UBC mathematician Robert Bridson will receive a Technical Achievement Oscar for work on films including Gravity, Avatar, The Hobbit, and The Avengers.

Robert Bridson says math and physics key to making digital animation look realistic in film

UBC professor Robert Bridson is receiving a Technical Achievement Oscar for his work in film over the past 13 years. (University of British Columbia)

UBC professor Robert Bridson will receive a Technical Achievement Oscar for his work on several films over the past 13 years, including The Hobbit, on Saturday — but he still hasn't written his 'thank-you' speech.

"I've got 45 seconds. It pretty tough to fit that in," the mathematician told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Bridson is being honoured with an Academy Award for figuring out the mathematical software needed to create the scenes that wowed crowds in many blockbuster movies, including AvatarThe Avengers and Gravity.

On mobile? Click here to watch a scene Robert Bridson worked on for the film Gravity.

It may seem strange that a mathematician is key to so many major Hollywood productions, but Bridson said his expertise is in demand in a world where so many films rely on computer generation.

"Things have gotten very technical and more and more is being done digitally these days … it's just cheaper and better that way," he said.

"It has to look real, it has to behave real, and the best way to do some of those things is to go to the real laws of physics and math behind nature to simulate it."

Bridson hopes his award will inspire children with a passion for movies to consider a career in mathematics.

While Bridson lives and works in Vancouver, he's originally from Newfoundland, meaning this weekend he will become the first person from Newfoundland and Labrador to receive an Oscar.

To hear the full interview with Robert Bridson, click the audio labelled: B.C. mathematician to get an Oscar.


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