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The Samuel L. Warner Memorial Medal Award Recipients

The Samuel L. Warner Memorial Medal, established in 1946 and sponsored by Warner Bros., honors the recipient by recognizing outstanding contributions in the design and development of new and improved methods and/or apparatus for motion picture sound, including any step in the process.


2023 - Rolv Gjestland

In recognition of his contributions to cinema auditorium design in all presentation aspects, including sound and picture. Gjestland joined Film and Kino, the Norwegian cinema association, in 1984, and for 40 years, he worked to advance the film quality in Norwegian cinemas. Gjestland has generously shared his breadth of knowledge through collaborations with organizations such as the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF), SMPTE Nordic Section, and the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC). In 2019, he published his definitive work in the highly acclaimed free-of-charge UNIC book, “How to Design a Cinema Auditorium,” now in its second edition. 

John Meyer

In recognition of his contributions to the design, measurement, and analysis of cinema speaker electronics for cinema mixing, review, and exhibition facilities. Meyer Sound was founded by Meyer and his wife Helen to create phase- and amplitude-corrected speaker systems. Starting with Skywalker Sound, Meyer Sound developed capabilities including vertical and horizontal pattern control that have now been used in dozens of sound stages, most recently at Fox’s Newman Scoring Stage. Meyer has designed unique testing and analysis tools. The M-Noise open-source signal and procedure was approved as AES75-2022 “AES Standard for Acoustics: Measuring loudspeaker maximum linear sound levels using noise” for quantifying a speaker system’s onset of nonlinearity.

No Award Given

Andrew Munro

In recognition of his significant contribution and many years of dedication to advancing the art and science of sound reproduction in the motion-picture industry. An acoustician, Munro has advanced the design and construction of reference studios for four decades, enabling sound designers and re-recording mixers to have greater and more precise control over their craft. Munro has been entrusted by leading post-production facilities and film companies worldwide.

Walter Murch

In recognition of the meticulous level of research and development that he brings to the science of human perception, enabling his art to take full experiential advantage of new technology. In particular, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Apocalypse Now, the award highlights the ground-breaking artistry in the use of stereo surround channels in the film. A new technology is only as good as the next step in the process: the art that utilizes it. The techniques introduced by Murch on Apocalypse Now showed the potential of the new format, which led to the ubiquitous adoption of 5.1 sound in the cinema.

David R. Schwind

In recognition of his contributions in the area of acoustic design. In the creation of a soundtrack, one element that may be overlooked is the acoustic impact of the postproduction facilities, the mixing studio, and the scoring stage. Under the general umbrella of acoustic design, reverberation characteristic, decay smoothness, avoidance of specific room resonances, noise control, and sound isolation can all affect what a mixer hears and how he or she models the soundtrack. For the past three decades, Schwind has been unequaled as an acoustic designer. His projects include postproduction facilities at Skywalker Ranch, Pixar, Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Fox, Disney, and Technicolor-Paramount. In addition, his successes have led to design projects across the globe, including StageOne in Australia and TOHO in Japan.

Mark Robert Gander

In recognition of his contributions to the design and development of cinema loudspeaker systems. Gander has brought a comprehensive perspective to these efforts and has been responsible for every aspect of bringing a new loudspeaker design to market, from transducer engineering through logistics of manufacture and distribution to the signature marketing of the JBL Professional cinema product line. In his four decades devoted to the highest fidelity cinema sound reproduction, Gander has influenced cinema loudspeaker design industrywide.

Neil A. Shaw

In recognition of his longtime support of SMPTE efforts in creating standards and practices for theater acoustics and electro-acoustics. Shaw most recently played a significant role in the SMPTE 25CSS Cinema Sound B-Chain Study Group, providing a scientific basis for the acoustical analysis of the cinema venues measured for the studies, and chairing the drafting committee to assemble and revise the Study Group Report.

Harold M. Hallikainen and Sripal S. Mehta

In recognition of their collaborative work in the development of closed caption communication protocol standards for digital cinema.  Their accomplishments include the development of an Ethernet-based synchronization protocol with associated resource presentation list, and a content essence format by which content owners can create and package up to six languages of interoperable closed captions in a single distribution.  Their joint effort enabled the introduction of competitive closed caption systems in motion picture exhibition, providing the means for the deaf and hearing impaired everywhere to better enjoy the cinema experience.

Ville Pulkki

For his outstanding contributions in the field of spatial sound reproduction and multi-channel audio rendering, including the two-dimensional and three-dimensional panning methods of vector-base amplitude panning (VBAP) and non-unitary vector base amplitude panning (NVBAP).  The value of his contributions is underscored by the emergence of immersive sound in the cinematic and broadcast arts.

Thomas A. Scott

For his dedication to the art and technology of sound for motion pictures.


Douglas Greenfield

For his active participation in the science and craft of modern cinema sound, and for his tireless professional dedication to the support of others in the practice.

Max Bell

For his long career seeking excellence in Cinema Audio.

Since 1976, when he was first hired by Dolby Laboratories in London, Max Bell has been deeply involved with improving motion picture sound.  One of his first assignments was supervising the original dialog recording for “Star Wars” and he followed that with many years traveling throughout Europe and the US, working with many film mixers in the studios and setting up cinemas with Dolby replay systems.  In 1979, he was instrumental in the development of a stereo surround system for the 70mm prints of Superman and Apocalypse Now, arguably the first ever 5.1 releases.  Throughout his career, Mr. Bell has worked in the US and Internationally, facilitating and improving first Dolby Stereo-optical and then Dolby Digital mastering, recording, and distribution.  In 1988, Max started Bell Theatre Services, retrofitting screens throughout the UK and Europe with Dolby SR-D and the production of a new 35mm optical sound recording camera systems for Dolby Digital and DTS.

Noboru Nishio

For more than half a century, Mr. Noburo Nishio has been deeply involved in recordings for motion pictures for Tokyo Motion Picture Company, Toho Recording Studios and Toho Films, and through the services of his own consulting company.  Under his direction, Japan's first stereo optical recorder was commissioned in 1980 for producing Dolby Stereo (SVA) soundtracks.  Using that stereo recorder, he recorded Japan's first Dolby Stereo motion picture titled Rengo Kantai.  Hundreds of other Dolby stereo motion pictures have followed this film recording for Japanese audiences. 

In 1992, Mr. Nishio recorded the first Dolby Digital motion picture produced in Japan, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.   Since 1995, he has acted as a Dolby film technology consultant in Japan, guiding Japanese filmmakers through their optical mastering, and he supervises the maintenance of the many digital optical recorders in Japan.  Still very active in cinema recording to this day, Nishio-san’s career spans the entire age of optical recording, from its monophonic beginnings to the all-digital present day state of the art.  His commitment to technical excellence in film recording throughout his career makes him a very worthy recipient for the Samuel L. Warner Memorial Award for 2010.

Clyde McKinney

For his many years in innovative development work supporting motion picture sound presentation.  From Clyde McKinney's early work producing precision magnetic tape heads for 35mm equipment, his work as technical support manager for Dolby’s film products and services, his tenure at the Lucasfilm THX Program responsible for the design and application of electrical, mechanical and acoustical technical standards for cinema installations at sites in the United States and around the world, his substantial contribution to SMPTE by making or supervising the creation of magnetic and optical test films, and finally to his decades long operation of Mc Kinney Technical Services,  Clyde is well known and highly respected as one of the foremost experts in sound  for the special venue, entertainment, educational motion picture industry.

Shawn Jones

For his many years of innovative work focused on the optical negative recording and multi-format digital mastering.  Shawn Jones has been at the forefront of technology with his most recent project accomplishments of a new laser recording system and the design and construction of NT Audio's Quality Control Theatre, overall being responsible for producing millions of feet of high quality recordings comprising hundreds of titles. Shawn’s work at Sony Electronics assisted in the development of the SDDS format, receiving a patent for his contributions. In 2006, together with other Dye Track Committee members, he was awarded an Academy Award of Commendation for their contributions to the environmentally responsible industry conversion from silver-based to cyan dye analog soundtracks. Jones holds a Bachelors Degree from UCLA and is an active member of SMPTE and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  

Mark F. Davis, PhD

In recognition of his psychoacoustic and electrical engineering work on audio coding systems for digital sound on film, as well as broadcast, and consumer applications.  Dr. Davis played a key role in the development of the first audio coding system that coded five full range channels and a low frequency effects channel into a single compressed data stream. This became the multichannel audio coding system known as Dolby AC-3, first employed in the Dolby Digital Sound for film system.

Jack Leahy

For his many years of development and support of RCA sound on film technology, and in particular, his work on pivotal 35 mm magnetic and photographic recording devices. In these days of digital "no moving parts" sound, it is easy to forget that very few years ago, analog, mechanical, magnetic, photographic systems presented multi-disciplinary challenges to developers, manufacturers, and film and television production and distribution support companies. Mr. Leahy is a perfect embodiment of the skills needed to address these multifaceted challenges.

Robert C. Lovick

For his work and contributions to the science, engineering and practice of sound on film. It has been said by some that the era of analog sound on film is winding to its conclusion. In light of that observation, the Samuel L. Warner Award committee has chosen to celebrate an engineer whose work of several decades established successful processes for sound on film that form the foundation for optical film sound practice today, nearly fifty years later. During his career at Eastman Kodak, he made significant contributions in the field of motion picture sound on film. Noteworthy among his many accomplishments are development of silver soundtrack on color reversal film, magnetic striping on film, and high speed magnetic sound printing. An innovator who chose to share his knowledge with his colleagues, he authored more than a dozen papers published in the SMPTE Journal between the 50’s and the 70’s. He represented the USA on the ISO sound committee, and as well participating in the EIA and IEEE committees for sound. He also holds numerous patents in the field.

Tom McCormick

For his work in optical soundtrack recording. His two decades of pioneering work in half speed recording and multi-format digital mastering have seen the production of millions of feet of high quality recordings of hundreds of titles: a testament to his engineering abilities.

Howard J. Flemming

Flemming, while in the employ of Optical Radiation Corporation, Azusa, CA, and in collaboration with Eastman Kodak Company, was key to the development of Cinema Digital Sound, a new process for recording and decoding digital audio information for motion picture film exhibition. The innovative CDS technology was deployed in a number of theaters across the US from 1991 to 1993, one of the very first commercial digital sound delivery systems for theaters. Mr. Flemming successfully designed and built the photographic encoder that exposed microscopic spots across the sound track region on special sound negative stock, and then implemented a motion picture projection decoder system which delivered six discrete CD quality audio channels.

Craig C. Todd

Senior member of the technical staff at Dolby Laboratories, where he has worked since 1977 and has contributed substantially to developments in multichannel film sound. He has been working to bring discrete multichannel audio to the consumer and is one of the primary designers of Dolby Digital and Dolby E coding technologies. Todd was heavily involved in the ACATS/ATSC effort to set the DTV standard for the U.S. He is currently working in the area of Digital Cinema.

James A. (Jack) Cashin

Who in the early 1970s developed the 8-track recording equipment used in Robert Altman's film, California Split. The system allowed the director to use streams of sound impressionistically, and the film became a watershed in the industry for its pronounced effect of coincident speech and sound. Subsequently, Cashin responded to theater owners' expressed need for improved two-channel optical sound playback. His solution cancelled the effect of film weave and soundtrack imbalance.


No award given.


No award given.

Etsuro Saito

For the hardware and software design of the Sony Dynamic Digital Sound format (SDDS), currently in use in 6,000 theaters worldwide. SDDS places eight discrete channels of high-quality audio on 35mm motion picture film.


No award given.

James Ketcham

For his development of both hardware and software design in the interlocking techniques between film and video equipment, greatly improving time code use in various aspects of motion picture and post-production technology.

Lynn A. McCroskey

In recognition of his achievements in the development of sound systems for theatrical and special venue motion picture systems. He headed the development team that created the Sonics DDP digital sound playback systems and is a pioneer in the development of digital sound for motion pictures.

David W. Gray

In recognition of his long-term contributions to the production of Dolby Stereo soundtracks and his support and participation in the introduction of the Dolby SRD motion picture format to the Hollywood film community. This revolutionary concept requires the exposing of digital audio between the film perforations in addition to the standard soundtrack position. Mr. Gray has also contributed to the maintaining of the alignment standards in motion picture theaters and is best recognized for his achievement of the highest quality optical sound reproduction, particularly at the Academy Theater in Hollywood.


No award given.

Ed Zwaneveld

In recognition of his initiation and direction of an evolutionary, compatible approach to the development of digital optical sound-on-film, an automated R-DAT-based digital sound-effects library system, the development of dual-element photocell detector technology for monitoring sound-track application on print film, and the development of digital sound signature sampling and matching technology for film projectors and VTRs.

Frank E. Pontius

In recognition of his contribution to the consistent improvement in the manufacture of light valves and optical sound recording cameras, used today for most optical stereophonic sound tracks for theatrical release around the world.

E. M. (Al) Lewis

For his important contributions to the development of the Ampex 6-track theater sound system, the design of solid-state sound systems for motion picture studios and theaters, the design of magnetic record and reproduce head assemblies for the film industry, and a continuous stream of technical advancements over a long and productive career.

John A. Bonner

In recognition of his contributions to the advancement of theaters, re-recording and live recording rooms, and for his continuing efforts to improve the quality of motion picture sound in both studio and theater environments.

Frederick J. Kolb, Jr.

In recognition of his contributions to the development of magnetic striping formulations for 16mm and 8mm camera and print films; for numerous significant contributions to the understanding of the physical performance of motion picture film as it affects audio performance; for long-term efforts in the field of audio standardization; and for always bringing a high level of technical expertise and precision to these activities.

Tomlinson Holman

For his important contributions to motion picture sound, in particular his sustained work in theater electroacoustics, which have yielded better uniformity and quality of sound in theatrical exhibition.

Richard J. Stumpf

For his continuing efforts to maintain and advance motion picture sound in production and exhibition.

loan Allen

In recognition of his contribution to the development of the Dolby Stereo Optical Sound process and his continuing efforts to improve the quality of motion picture sound.

Ronald E. Uhlig

In recognition of his contribution to the advancement of photographic sound recording through the development of stereo photographic sound tracks, improved sound negative film, and continuing work to implement improved quality control techniques.

Terry Beard

In recognition of his continuing efforts and contributions to the improvement of the photographic sound-on-film process.

Erik Rasmussen

In recognition of over 50 years of continuing effort in the improvement of sound-on-film, from the early conversion of silent motion picture theaters to sound, through the development of optical sound-recording equipment and the management of studio sound departments, to his current work on the acoustics of motion picture theaters using pink-noise at films of his own design and the psycho-acoustic perceptions of the cinema audience.

John O. Aalberg

For more than 60 continuous years of advancing the technology of exhibiting motion pictures and recording sound.

Arthur C. Blaney

In recognition of his research and development of photographically recording sound on film, his pioneering of cross-modulation testing and quality-control techniques related to variable area tracks, and more recently his contribution to the design of the optical system used in recording stereo variable area photographic soundtracks, as well as an optical system for super-8 photographic soundtrack.

Norman T. Prisament

For his noteworthy interest and contributions in the field of sound reproduction and transfer mechanisms by means of high-speed interlocking systems. The development of the high-speed electronic looping system simplified the foreign language dubbing of soundtracks.

Ray M. Dolby

In recognition of his development of a noise-reduction system for use in motion picture sound recording of music and sound effects and for the development of a band-selective noise-reduction system for processing dialogue tracks which had been recorded in a high ambient noise environment.

Albert P. Green

For his leadership in the design and implementation of the Groves/Rice Sound Complex at the Burbank Studios, which incorporated the latest technological advancements relating to motion picture sound recording and rerecording, for his significant engineering contributions regarding reversible interlock motor drive systems for rerecording, and for his continuing efforts to improve recording standards for the motion picture industry while serving as an advisor to the Research Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Alfred W. Lumkin

For his continuing efforts to establish standards for the acoustic response in cinema theaters and rerecording theaters, as well as describing practical methods for measuring Suez acoustical characteristics.

Joseph D. Kelly

In recognition of his pioneering use of the 1/4-in. synchronous tape in production recording of motion picture sound, and the development of solid-state dubbing and scoring consoles with matrix switching, of an efficient automatic dialogue replacement system, and of a system for interfacing motion picture rerecording techniques with videotape using time codes and multiple-track recording to add effects and music to the original master videotape recording.

Waldon O. Watson

For his persistent efforts to improve and maintain the sound quality of motion pictures.

Loren L. Ryder

For his long and continued interest in the improvement of sound-recording techniques and, in particular, for his pioneering encouragement of the use of high-quality lightweight equipment.

George R. Groves

For his many technological improvements for motion picture sound recording.

James P. Corcoran

For his contributions to four-track stereo sound for CinemaScope release, both for recording techniques and theater-reproducing equipment.

Gordon E. Sawyer

For pioneering and maintaining the highest engineering standards in sound recording for motion pictures through the development of advanced equipment and original techniques.

Frederick G. Albin

For his great and many contributions to the advancement of sound recording.

Stefan Kudelski

For his engineering and development of a portable synchronous l/4-in-tape recording system of unique design resulting in exceptional speed stability under widely varying conditions.

Fred Hynes

For his achievements and advancements in the art of stereophonic recording, for his contribution to improved theater presentation and his continuing leadership in dramatic use of sound-on-film.

Lawrence W. Davee

For his concept of a fully transistorized motion picture theater sound system and his engineering guidance in developing and introducing such a system into many theaters throughout the world and for other outstanding achievements.

Walter H. Hicks

For his contributions in the design and development of methods and apparatus for sound-on-film motion pictures.

John G. Frayne

For his contribution in engineering a 70mm stereo soundtrack magnetic film system and test films.

George Lewin

For his discovery and research on the phenomenon of transparency of magnetic coatings to infrared light sources and its application to dual sound reproduction from either the magnetic track or the underlying optical track.

Richard H. Ranger

For his invention, development and application of a method of electronically synchronizing sound recorded on magnetic tape to the motion picture camera.

C. C. Davis

For his outstanding contributions in the field of sound-recording and reproducing mechanisms, as part of which program he developed the Davis Drive film-transport mechanism, applied its principle to disk recording drives, and developed a multitrack magnetic head with extremely low crosstalk.

Harry F. Olson

For outstanding achievements in audio engineering, and for his contributions to the development and improvement of phonograph pickup and recording equipment, underwater sound equipment, and sound motion picture and public address systems.

Lorin D. Grignon

For his engineering work in stereophonic sound now widely used in wide-screen film presentations.

W. W. Wetzel

For noteworthy contributions to the development of excellent magnetic tapes and films now commercially available.

Herbert T. Kalmus

For Technicolor's perfection of the imbibition process for 16mm color prints and for the techniques of making separate sound negatives for mass production by the 35mm/32mm method for excellence of 16mm sound.

Earl I. Sponable

For years of research and development in recording of sound on film.

Charles R. Fordyce

For his efforts in and achievement of the development of triacetate safety base film.

R. M. Evans

For his outstanding work in the field of color motion picture films, including research on visual effects in photography and development work on commercial color processes.

Nathan Levinson

For his outstanding work in the field of motion picture sound recording, the intercutting of variable-area and variable-density soundtracks, the commercial use of control track for extending volume range, and the use of the first soundproof camera blimps.

J. A. Maurer

For his outstanding contributions to the field of high-quality 16mm sound recording and reproduction, film processing, development of 16mm sound test films, and for his inspired leadership in industry standardization.