iSolutions, Inc. spent 11 years as the database provider for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® (A.M.P.A.S.® or the Academy), the organization that puts on the world famous Oscars® each year.
Before engaging iSolutions as their software systems vendor in 2002, A.M.P.A.S.® was using paper-based systems to manage all of the membership and Awards seating tasks. iSolutions built several custom apps that remained in use all year round, but the Academy Awards Seating Solution was successfully used for the seventh year in a row at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards®.
The Academy used this leading technology during a six-week period prior to the event using iSolutions’ “Drag and Drop” Seating Chart Solution to assign seats and issue tickets to each guest attending this year’s live televised show. When you saw a celebrity in a seat at the Oscars®, FileMaker Pro placed them there.
For 13 years, a similar seating solution created by iSolutions was used to schedule the official screenings of the nominated films for Academy voters.
Each film that was nominated needed to be screened in each of the two official A.M.P.A.S.® theaters in Los Angeles. The morning of the nominations announcement, every studio sent representatives to the A.M.P.A.S.® building in Beverly Hills. Just minutes after the announcement was made, the representatives gathered in a smaller theater to pick which dates and times they wish to have their movies screened. The nominated films were stored in a FileMaker database and a custom seating interface was then projected onto a movie screen to allow the representatives to view open slots and select the ones they want.
The system built in rules to not allow for a film to be screened in two theaters at the same time and helped manage in and out times to restrict placement of films that run too long on certain dates. After the placement process was completed, the FileMaker solution then printed out reports for each representative with their film dates and times. Then the FileMaker system used an XSLT stylesheet to export the raw XML and format it as a Quark document that is used to print the hardcopy schedule that needed to be in blue line editing by the end of that same day.
In addition to the Oscars®, the organization hosts many events. With an integration of FileMaker Pro’s Web Viewer layout object, iSolutions seating application managed seating arrangements for the Award Show and the attendant Governors Ball and Scientific and Technical (SciTech) Awards in those same seasons. The Governors Awards takes place a few months prior to the Oscars® and FileMaker was used to manage all invitees and the tables where they are placed. The process was very similar to managing guests for a wedding and deciding to what table they should be assigned.
The SciTech Awards are a similar event that required RSVP management and table assignment functionality. The FileMaker system helped users choose an attendee and place them at a table. However, it also took into account the various rules that must be met. For example, no nominee can be seated at a table with nominees from their same category, one press person must be at each table, no nominees from the same movie can be seated at the same table, etc. Users simply selected the attendee’s name from a list and the seating system automatically “grays out” any table where these rules do not allow them to be placed thus, eliminating any user error.
Using iSolutions’ FileMaker-based seating application for the Governors Ball, A.M.P.A.S.® staff was able to view the entire floor layout along with table and guest details on their computer screens. The software was used for decision making and placement of every celebrity guest at their respective tables and made seating for the more than 1,500+ invitees much more efficient.
In addition to its Ticketing and Seating Solution, A.M.P.A.S.® used iSolutions’ FileMaker-based Online Registration and Credentialing Solution to manage over 800 applications for media credentials. The Press Department at A.M.P.A.S.® stored all of their press contacts in a FileMaker database. This database was accessed via a php web application that is put online during the submissions period. The web application allowed for 24-hr collection of data and the data was then available for review and approval within their database system.
The iSolutions systems excelled in efficiency and problem mitigation compared to that of the paper-based methods used by A.M.P.A.S.® prior to these engagement as well as other analog systems still in use by other awards shows even today. FileMaker allowed the Academy to manage their data in a way that honored their world class reputation.
Measures of success:
· Reduced the number of staff hours required for seating by 18% the first year. Each subsequent year less time was required for the same tasks so more time was available for new reports, projects and ideas.
· D&D technology originally instituted for the 78th Academy Awards (in 2006) was immediately adapted to handle Academy’s SciTech Awards, Governors Awards and Nominees Luncheon and became a standard used by everybody from airlines to movie theaters.
· Users were able to produce reports detailing all guest and seating information in both the Theatre and Ballroom.
· For the 84th Academy Awards Governors Ball, 1015 guests (71%) were processed in the first 15 minutes and 1259 guests (88%) in the first 25 minutes making it the fastest year os seating at the time.