Apple at the Oscars

Swapping turtleneck for tuxedo, Steve Jobs (s aapl) made a rare public appearance when he took to the red carpet at the Academy Awards last night, spotted first by eagle-eyed social media maven Wayne Sutton who posted to his blogOMG it’s Steve Jobs! I’m the only one yelling at him! #oscars #kodakredcarpet

Sutton doesn’t mention whether his yells went unnoticed by His Steveness, but he posted a fantastic snapshot of the event to his blog — take a look and see if you can spot El Jobso for yourself (it’s not immediately easy to find him in the crowd, but once you see him, he’s hard to miss!)

Image courtesy of Wayne Sutton

The Theme Begins (Prequel to The Oscar Theme)

Now why would the normally shy and retiring Steve Jobs be at the Academy Awards Oscar ceremony? Well, he is the largest individual shareholder in the Walt Disney Company, to whom he sold Pixar Animation Studios in 2006. Pixar is the legendary computer animation studio responsible for the box office hits Toy Story and Finding Nemo (to name only two of many others) and its latest CG offering, Up, was nominated for an impressive five Academy Awards (and was the first Pixar film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture).

On the night, Up received two of those Oscars; Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. Steve didn’t take to the stage to receive the awards, but I’m sure he was grinning from ear to ear like a proud father at his child’s first music recital.

The Oscar Theme

If you’re interested in the mechanics of modern movie making, you’ll find this fascinating; Macworld UK reports that a staggering nine out of ten of the Oscar-nominated Documentaries (across both the Short and Feature Documentary categories) were edited on Macs using Final Cut Pro.

If you’re not a movie maker, you might not know that Final Cut Pro is Apple’s pro-level film editing software. Speaking from personal experience of many hours spent in many darkened editing suites all around the world, there are (broadly speaking) three dominant software editing tools; Avid, Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. (There are others, of course, but they’re far less commonly used in the film and TV industry.)

Avid has traditionally been the editing platform of choice and still reigns supreme, though mostly because it has been around since the Stone Age and many long-established editing facilities using Avid suites have long-term service contracts tying them to that platform. But Final Cut Pro (and the Final Cut Studio suite of film making tools) has been gaining ground in recent years, due in part to its relative affordability and Apple’s amazingly progressive efforts to develop and promote new HD codecs and standards, such as the ProRes family. (For more on this, you can watch a video on Apple’s Final Cut product pages.)

That almost all the Award-nominated Short and Feature Documentaries were edited using Final Cut (and, therefore, made on Macs) speaks volumes about filmmakers’ faith in, and trust for, Apple’s technologies.

The Oscar Theme Part 2: The Theme Continues

The impressive numbers continue. I almost missed this one, but last week The Awl’s Abe Sauer penned Why Apple Deserves and Oscar Too, which started with this remarkable tidbit;

In the 44 films in 2009 that topped the box office for at least one weekend, an Apple logo or device could be seen in at least 18 of them. (That’s almost 41%.) In some, Apple products even eclipsed their human scene partners. This high appearance rate does not include the heap of mass-market films from 2009 that did not own a weekend but also featured Apple product placement.

Sauer has done his homework. He goes on to list a fair number of those movies (you can read the list for yourself here) and, if you’ve got the time to spare, (7 minutes and 25 seconds, to be precise) there’s even a Ken Burns-tastic video slideshow of screenshots from movies and TV shows through the years featuring Apple products. Sauer adds;

…Brandcameo shows that Apple has appeared in 102 of the 302 weekly number one U.S. box office films from 2001 to 2009—more than 33% of them. Apple’s number is actually higher when period and fantasy/scifi films, in which Apple could not appear, are removed (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars prequels 3:10 to Yuma, etc.).

Right then, don’t let it be said that Apple’s brand managers aren’t doing good work.

The Oscar Theme Part 3: Oscar’s Revenge

During the ad break (presumably while Oscar winners were busy phoning their Moms with the good news) the first ever iPad television commercial was broadcast. The ad itself is a bit “meh,” to be honest; it didn’t light the world on fire and teach us anything we didn’t already know. But that’s OK, because what really matters, I suppose, is that a very large audience not normally exposed to tech/gadget news saw the iPad for the first time. You can watch the ad on Apple’s website here.

I’m still wondering what Apple was up to in that diner back in August last year. At this rate, I think we’ll have to wait for next year’s Oscars to find out.