Exploring Alabama - Auburn Oscar Winner - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Exploring Alabama - Auburn Oscar Winner

Auburn football put the university on the map this year. After a perfect season, an SEC Championship and a big win in the Sugar Bowl.

But did you know an associate professor of engineering is now an Academy Award winner?

Nels Madsen won for technical achievement. So how does a mechanical engineer from Auburn win an Academy Award in Hollywood ? When his software powers what some people believe is the "gold standard" for "motion capture technology." That’s when a computer captures the natural motions of a person and then creates an animated character that virtually duplicates that motion. If you've seen the "Lord of the Rings trilogy, Batman, or Tom Hanks character in the Polar Express, you've seen his work.

During an interview recently, Madsen said, "The best motion capture is when you can't tell its motion capture....when you look out there and you believe you're seeing the real thing."

Former Auburn faculty member Tom McLaughlin founded motion reality, an Atlanta-based company that owns the technology Madsen helped create. McLaughlin remembers how it was used in a recent Batman film. “There are some really amazing scenes in that movie with Schwarzenegger, Batman and Robin...where they rip off the doors of the space ship before it explodes and they sort of surfboard...the ‘kowabunga’ scenes everybody's seen on TV and those movies."

Madsen says his work outside the classroom helps make him a better teacher. "Because this environment of being in a small firm and staying ahead of the market and trying to really make things work is the kind of environment our students go into.”

So what's next for MRI, Madsen and Hollywood ’s top studios? They're not saying....but you can bet it's going to be good.

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