SMPTE, the society for motion picture producers, technology, and engineers, has announced the recipients for this year's Progress Medal. This year, John Christopher Gaeta and Kim Libreri will be recognized for their vast contributions to emerging technologies in cinema and beyond, including virtual cinema, volumetric capture, and most notably, Bullet Time, which was pioneered on the original Matrix film trilogy.
Gaeta has continued to push and blur the boundaries of storytelling throughout his career, from co-founding ILMxLAB — with a charter of disruptive innovation — to collaborating with major industry players to create more transformative, subjective experiences.
Libreri has continued to fuse cutting-edge technology with visual artistry in real-time experiences. He led the Star Wars technology strategy and innovations at Lucasfilm, and at Epic Games, he helped revolutionize Unreal Engine across industries, including film and television, bringing movie-quality visuals to projects such as The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience.
The work of Gaeta and Libreri has blazed paths many others have followed, galvanizing deeper levels of human connection to narrative moments and inspiring countless individuals to pursue careers in production technology while changing cinematic language forever.
The award will be bestowed upon the recipients at the annual SMPTE Awards Gala sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery, October 19, at the conclusion of the 2023 SMPTE Media Technology Summit. The Gala will take place in the Ray Dolby Ballroom within the Ovation Hollywood.
This year, SMPTE will recognize two individuals with the Progress Medal — the Society's most prestigious medal award. Established in 1935, this award recognizes outstanding technical contributions to the progress of engineering phases of the motion-imaging industries.
"The work of our honorees has impacted countless people," said SMPTE executive director David Grindle. "To be able to recognize them and their impact on the art and science of media is an opportunity to shine a light on folks who often get little recognition."
The hosts for the ceremony are rising stars within the Society, three of whom began their SMPTE careers as student award recipients. These young engineers and technologists, Jake Zuena, Catherine Meininger, Jaclyn Pytlarz, and Kylee Peña, will be overseeing the presentation of 17 honors to 35 individuals and organizations. Among these is the supreme accolade of the Society, Honorary Membership, which recognizes individuals who have performed eminent service in the advancement of engineering in motion pictures, television, or in the allied arts and sciences.