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Pixar Pioneers Win $1 Million Turing Award


Technology of Business

Pixar Pioneers Win $1 Million Turing Award


SAN FRANCISCO – Pat Hanrahan was a young biophysics student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the ’80s when he decided to give up his work with microscopic insects and join a small group of computer scientists in their quest to make a movie.

The group was led by Ed Catmull, a pioneer in computer graphics who became chief technology officer at a new company called Pixar. The movie was “Toy Story”, the famous animated movie released in the fall of 1995.

On Wednesday, the Association for Computer Machines, the largest society of computer professionals, said Dr. Sc Hanrahan and Dr. Catmull will receive this award-winning Turing Award for his work on three-dimensional computer graphics. The Turing Prize is often referred to as the Nobel Prize in Computer Science and comes with a $ 1 million prize, which will be shared by two members of what is often called the C.G.I., or computer-generated images.

Their work has changed not only animated films, but Hollywood special effects, video games and virtual reality.

“Both Pat and Ed have had widespread influence across multiple industries, both with their technical contributions and their leadership,” said David A. Price, author of Pixar Touch: Creating a Company. “Many of the basic techniques in three-dimensional computer graphics came from Ed or the people he led.”

When they started, young researchers hoped to create a complete image-based feature that would be created by a computer. Dr. Hanrahan did not think he would achieve this goal, but he felt that they could move on.

“I thought it would be possible throughout my life, but I could spend the rest of my life working on it,” Dr. Hanrahan, 64, said in an interview.

After joining Pixar in 1986, he oversaw the development of a graphics system called RenderMan, building on more than a decade of Dr. Catmull and others. RenderMan played a key role in the creation of “Toy Story” and many of Pixar’s ensuing features, creating ever more realistic 3-D animation. But his influence on the movie business extended beyond characters like Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

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