BEVERLY HILLS, Calif (Reuters) - Elizabeth Banks, who captured movie-goers' attention with scene-stealing turns in "The 40-year-old Virgin," may seem an unlikely choice to hand out Hollywood's premiere awards for the science of movie-making.
The 35-year-old Massachusetts native, gamely poking fun at her unfamiliarity with "digital intermediaries" and "ambient occlusion," presided ably with the aid of a teleprompter over this year's Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Saturday.
"I don't know what a sine curve is. At all," said Banks after an award recipient thanked his father for teaching him how to chart his first such graph.
The lesser-known companion to the Academy Awards, which one attendee called "the poor man's Oscars," honors the army of technology wizards that toil behind the scenes of the movie industry.
Most years, a young starlet hands out the awards in a low-key ceremony about a fortnight before the world's foremost forum for film awards.
Past hostesses have included Jennifer Garner, Kate Hudson and Jessica Biel.
Viewers will glimpse a brief recap of the event when the Oscars are televised live on March 7.
Among the awards dished out for movie magic in 2009, several honored achievements in 3D filmmaking, a hot topic in the wake of James Cameron's "Avatar," the most successful film of all time with a gross of over $2.4 billion worldwide.
Among such honorees was Richard Kirk, who designed and developed "Truelight" described as a system to enable accurate color presentation in digital film previews.
"I can only hope that one day I'm as awesome as my friends and family now think I am," he joked after receiving a gold plaque with a miniature representation of Oscar statuette.
Other awards included nods for achievements in motion-capture, computer graphics, lighting, camera technology and a plethora of other processes used in post-production.
Many award winners called the event the highlight of their career. They included Masaaki Miki of Japan's Fuji Film corporation, part of a trio that developed a new form of digital intermediate film called ETERNA-RDI, used to reproduce film digital masters.
"Just one word: we did it!" the native Japanese speaker yelled at the end of the evening.
Editing by Alan Elsner