A Columbia-based software company won an Oscar Award for technical achievement over the weekend.

SpeedTree Cinema, founded by Columbia natives Chris King, Greg Croft and Michael Sechrest, was presented the coveted award during the 2014 Sci-Tech Awards on Saturday for its technology used to build realistic, digital trees and vegetation for the backdrops of large Hollywood films such as “Avatar,” “Maleficent” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

King and Sechrest graduated from the University of South Carolina with computer engineering degrees. In 2000, they started Interactive Data Visualization, a software development firm of 3D imaging, according to the SpeedTree website. The firm later launched SpeedTree after working with video game developers, which led the entrepreneurs to a carve out a digital imaging niche in the movie industry.

“We’d like to thank USC, that’s Gamecocks, not Trojans,” Sechrest joked during the acceptance speech at the ceremony in Beverly Hills.

Sign up for our new business newsletter

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.


Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail