The Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical Awards have been handed out at a ceremony in Beverly Hills.
The awards, which are held separately from the Oscars ceremony on 2 March, recognise more than 50 of the most creative behind-the-scenes operators.
Joshua Pines, who worked on the film Coraline, was honoured for developing image-processing mathematics to standardise colour.
He called the evening "this year's annual Winter Olympics for geeks."
The awards were handed out by actors Kristen Bell and Michael B. Jordan.
Christopher Nolan, the British director of The Dark Knight, also made a surprise visit later in the evening.
The writer-director accepted the film lab Oscar, and described film processors as alchemists who "(turn) silver and plastic into dreams".
The Oscar will be on permanent display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles when it opens in 2017.
Twenty-one awards were handed out, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award went to Peter W. Anderson for his contributions to 3D technology.
Award winner Dan Piponi, who was part of the team which pioneered simulating smoke and fire in films such as Avatar and Puss In Boots, said: "Nobody told me if I wanted to get an Academy Award, I should study mathematics."
On Sunday 2 March, the technical achievements of films such as Gravity, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness will be celebrated at the full Academy Awards ceremony.