How iSolutions digitally transformed The OSCARS®

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, 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 see 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 is nominated needs 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 sends representatives to the A.M.P.A.S.® building in Beverly Hills. Just minutes after the announcement is made, the representatives gather in a smaller theater to pick which dates and times they wish to have their movies screened. The nominated films are stored in a FileMaker database and a custom seating interface is then projected onto a movie screen to allow the representatives to view open slots and select the ones they want.

The system builds in rules to not allow for a film to be screened in two theaters at the same time and helps manage in and out times to restrict placement of films that run too long on certain dates. After the placement process is completed, the FileMaker solution then prints out reports for each representative with their film dates and times. Then the FileMaker system uses an XSLT stylesheet to export the raw XMLK and format it as a Quark document that is used to print the hardcopy schedule that needs 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 this season. The Governors Awards takes place a few months prior to the Oscars® and FileMaker is used to manage all invitees and the tables where they are placed. The process is 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 requires RSVP management and table assignment functionality. The FileMaker system helps users choose an attendee and place them at a table. However, it also takes 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 must simply select 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.® stores all of their press contacts in a FileMaker database. This database can be access via a php web application that is put online during the submissions period. The web application allows for 24-hr collection of data and the data is then available for review and approval within their database system.

The iSolutions systems introduced efficiency and problem mitigation compared to that of the paper-based methods used by A.M.P.A.S.® in the past and by other awards shows even today. FileMaker allowed the Academy to finally 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.

·     Drag and Drop 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 is now 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 to date.

Also see: How FileMaker Once Got Me on Red Carpet of the Oscars and Helped iSolutions Change Hollywood