The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has named USC School of Cinematic Arts professor Tom Holman as the recipient of its 2007 Masaru Ibuka Award, recognizing Holman’s contribution to the development of advanced audio and cinema multichannel playback systems.
Holman will be presented with his award at the institute’s International Conference on Consumer Electronics at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 13. Sponsored by the Masaru Ibuka Fund, the prize highlights outstanding contributions in the field of consumer electronics technology.
“This honor is especially significant because it comes from engineers,” said Holman, who has been teaching at the school since 1987 and is also a principal investigator in the Integrated Media Systems Center’s Immersive Audio Lab at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “What we do in entertainment is so different, and it’s really a surprise to be recognized for work that I started to do in the ’60s.”
Without Holman’s involvement, the home theater experience would be vastly different from what we know today. During his 15-year tenure as chief engineer of postproduction and later corporate technical director for Lucasfilm, Holman developed the THX (Tomlinson Holman eXperiment) Sound System in 1983 to ensure that the soundtrack for the film “Return of the Jedi” would be reproduced accurately in theaters.
THX is a baseline set of standards designed to eliminate background noise, enhance image quality and projection, improve room acoustics and utilize THX-approved equipment for optimal sound reproduction. The standard has spread from movie houses to applications as diverse as home theaters and automobiles.
The prize joins a long line of accolades Holman has received, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Technical Achievement Award in 2001 for Holman’s work on THX.
Holman, who is a senior member of the institute, holds seven U.S. and 23 foreign patents. He is also a fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, the British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society, and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
The Ibuka Award was established in 1987 to recognize outstanding contributions in the field of consumer electronics technology. It is named after Masaru Ibuka, honorary chairman and co-founder of the Sony Corp.