The Computer Graphics Essential Reference

So just what qualifies as ³historically significant²?

Abel Image Research
Abel Image Research (colloquially known as AIR Software) was the subsidiary of Robert Abel and Associates that sold its software commercially. Production companies that bought AIR software included Electric Image in the UK, Steiner Film in Munich Germany (used there by Ken Wesley and Tom Nowak), as well as many others. AIR software was built primarily by Bob Abel with animation and rendering software by Bill Kovacs, Roy Hall, Kim Shelly, Mike Sweeney and others including Christina Hills. Code was initially cobbled together from various sources to get started, including Bell Labs which licensed code to Abel¹s virtually for free at just $1 per ³workstation². AIR was in the process of being sold to ????? when it was rather abruptly sold to Wavefront Technologies of Santa Barbara in 1985 For $1million.

Alias Research Inc
(1982 to present)

-contributed to by Will Anielewicz, Andrew Pearce and Kevin Tureski.
How Alias Got Started

Alias Research Inc., of Toronto, Canada was founded in 1983 by Stephen Bingham, Susan McKenna, David Springer, and Nigel McGrath with the goal of creating software for computer animation for film and video production. Stephen was a television producer, a director for the National Film Theatre of Canada, and an advisor to the government on the use of computer graphics for the visual display of quantitative data. Susan worked as an independent producer in the industrial video and film area and had some experience in fund raising in the industry. [FACTOID] The name ³Alias² was arrived at during a brainstorming session when Susan said ³What we need is an alias for the company². Nigel ran a local business, McGrath & Associates that specialized in computer graphic slide production. David was head of the CG lab at Sheridan College and would lead the software development. The founders obtained a grant of $61K from National Research Council (NRC), borrowed equipment from McGrath & Associates, and Secured SRTC (Scientific Research Tax Credits) for some funded research work on anti-aliasing that would be needed for their own product, ALIAS/1. [FACTOID] The first office was in an elevator shaft and rent was $150/month in the always-under-construction ³Much Music² building, Canada¹s version of MTV. The four principals were soon joined by employee¹s five and six: Will Anielewicz (recently ex of Omnibus and currently at ILM) and Mike Sweeney on software development. It was Will and Mike who, unbeknownst to management, made a conscious decision to make the Alias renderer the best looking (as opposed to the fastest), a feature that still accurately describes the current code. [MORE INFO] Please see the Programming chapter for a complete bio on Mike Sweeney By summer 1985, the product was complete and the company took it to market with the first activity being a small booth at Siggraph '85 in San Francisco. (Coincidentally, Wavefront launched their product the same year). The most unique elements of the ALIAS/1 system were (1) it's use of Cardinal splines (supported by Silicon Graphics GL language) instead of polygonal lines (2) the GUI with pop-up menus instead of command-line interface and (3) the integration of multiple functions (modeling, animation, rendering, paint, film recording) within a single interface. Alias/1 also provided the first paint system for the SGI IRIS 2400. Originally, ALIAS/1 was targeted to the post-production market primarily for advertising usage. One of the earliest customers, however, was General Motors. The fact that ALIAS/1 was based on splines was of great interest to GM who wanted to use the system for design work. Alias was reluctant to enter the design market as it was so distant from what it was founded to do, but by November 1995, they had signed a deal with GM to incorporate basis spline (b-spline) technology. Over the next year or so, Alias sold mostly to post- production customers - it's original target market, but as is common with emerging technologies there was a broad range of early adopters with a surprising number doing architectural visualization and scientific visualization. However, with the introduction of ALIAS/2 with b-spline geometry in late FY87, sales to industrial design companies started to take off. Then, with Alias V3.0, the same executable was marketed to industrial design as Alias Studio and to the entertainment markets as PowerAnimator. V3.0 was also the release that introduced NURBS which has become a standard for both markets. In 1996, Alias in-house artist Chris Landreth¹s short animation ³The End² was nominated for an Oscar® in the Best Animated Short category. [FACTOID] A little known fact: The name of the Alias image viewing utility ³wrl² came about when Will Anielewicz added to the existing code of ³rl² and wanted to change it¹s nameŠhence the self initialed w(ill)rl utility name we all know and love today. Will developed his skills in obscurity at Omnibus. One of his dozen-or-so variants of an extrusion program was called ³newtube2², and it¹s help went approximately as follows: newtube2: useage: file x y z xbang ybang zbang xtang ytang zbang file: a ppt file to extrube about x y z xbang ybang zbang: do the obvious xtang ytang ztang: use only if you wrote the code animators had to chain together dozens of unix programs using Cshell. In fact, Keith Ballinger, a TD, programmed ease- in/ease-out values with his TI-58 calculator. Others looked up the values in tables and typed them in with a text editor

Alias v1.0: 198? Design Paint Alias v2.0: 1990? Trim curves Alias v3.0: 1992 NURBS! Alias v4.0: 1993 Alias v5.0: 1994 Alias v6.0: 1995 Alias v7.0: 1996 New interface. Polygon modeling tools? Alias v7.5: 1996 Layers Alias v8.0: 1997 Alias v9.0: 1998

The Alias Renderer: ³Raycasting (as Alias called it) is the casting of 2.5D rays into 2.5D buckets of triangles. We call the rays (and geometry) 2.5D because they are in the projected screen space of the image, so they are 2D, but they still have a bit of Z depth information which we can use to generate a real 3D intersection point. Alias Raycasting is like ray tracing in that we can compute volume intersections (fog, particles, glows, et. al.) with the speed of a 2D intersetion test, but unlike raytracing in that no secondary rays are (or can be) generated due to the nature of the geometry which is already projected into 2.5D. The Raycasting algorithm is closest to the ZZbuffer (yes, 2 Z's) presented a Siggraph a few years back (the paper was unrelated to A|W). People also tend to think of rendering as a post process, separate task. The Maya renderer is completely integrated so that geometric, dynamic or other properties of the scene can affect the shading (ie. connect the Y coordinate of a sphere to the red channel of a shader and you've got a sphere that gets "redder" the higher it is translated).² ­Andrew Pearce

In 1998, a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was presented to John Gibson, Rob Kreiger, Milan Novacek, Glen Ozymok and Dave Springer for the development of the geometric modeling component of the Alias PowerAnimator system. For animators, the latest Alias tools include the most advanced inverse kinematic (IK), a completely integrated particle systems, and unique 3D model interpolation and deformation controls. Alias Research and longtime competitor Wavefront Technologies were both bought by SGI in 1995 and now are known by the new combined name of Alias|Wavefront. Alias|Wavefront released a next generation complete 3D animation system called Maya in February of 1998. Maya is available for SGI IRIX and Windows NT. Maya v2.0 is expected to ship in the summer of 1999. 800-447-2542
-see also Wavefront, Silicon Graphics Inc.

The Amiga was a color computer introduced by Commodore Computer in 1985 after beginning development as the Amiga Lorraine. Models included the 500, 1000, 3000, and 4000. Original software including Sculpt-3D, and Deluxe Paint II. A unique feature of the 1000 model was its built-in composite video output. This allowed you to record to a VHS deck whatever you saw on the screen in realtime. With masked brush shapes and color cycling, you could really get some amazing effects out of D-Paint II with this set up. (I should know, I created my first short film in 1986 that way! ­Author) Amiga also produced the earliest alternative input devices for video games. The JoyBoard (1983) foot controller: "You lean, you tilt, you bend, you turn." and ³The Power- Stick² (1983) a one handed, thumb controller. The Amiga is a perfect example of how the best product does not always win the marketplace. The Amiga is still an active platform today thanks to a loyal following of longtime users. One particularly good 3D package is Tornado3D by Eyelight at . Surf the web for lots of great software and newsgroup discussions, starting at:

[AMIGA TESTIMONIAL!] ³Amiga - the cool thing about the Amiga was/is (I have two in my house right now...) that it had a built-in graphics and sound co-processors and could do true multi-tasking on the Motorola 68000 series, which DOS, MS-DOS, WindowsX and MacOS never did on that CPU...or any other, for that matter. What a box!² - John Andrew Berton (ILM VFX Supervisor).

Apple Computer
(1967 to present)
Founded by Steven Jobs and Steven Wozniak in 1976, incorporated on Jan. 3rd of 1977. Apple began with the introduction of the Apple I, followed by the Apple II later in 1977 and the Apple III in 1980. While definitely not a computer graphics company, Apple did bring many of the GUI interface, desktop publishing graphics concepts to the masses over the years. Several good book have been written about the history of Apple Computer, but I offer some highlights here. XEROX PARC VISIT: Jobs and his scientists was so impressed by their visit to Xerox Parc in December of 1979 that Jobs completely rethought the direction of a graphic interface project they were working on, code named ³Lisa² (1983). However, Jobs was soon taken off the Lisa project and began work on another named ³Macintosh². A year after the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984, Jobs was voted out of Apple by the board and the then President he himself had hired, John Sculley. -FACTOID: Macintosh: The original graphic user interface personal computer for the masses. (The Mac was of course based upon the brilliant Alto of Xerox PARC.) Introduced in 1984 with a price of $2,495 and a bus speed of 8mhz! Included a built-in 500x384 black and white screen, 256k of RAM (that¹s k not m) and no hard drive. (Who remembers switching between floppies over and over again? I see those hands!) As a side note, Microsoft had just released Windows 1.0 at this time and successfully negotiated a deal protecting it¹s right to use a similar GUI design. The Mac II was introduced in 1987, along with the Apple LaserWriter and Pagemaker software. Together they all formed the first affordable desktop publishing personal computer system. The portable Powerbooks were first introduced in 1991, along with the ill-fated ³Newton² hand-held personal digital assistant or PDA. The PowerMac introduction in 1994 proved to be a powerful addition to the Mac line, but more poor marketing decisions caused rough financial times. Today, with Jobs back at the helm of his old company as ³Interim CEO², Apple is profitable again, and has introduced new products at both ends of its line of personal computers. At the entry level is the iMac, a low cost internet savvy PC that is as much fun to look at as it is to use. On the high end the blazing fast G3 line include built in 3D acceleration. More so in this area, in early 1999, Apple announced its licensing of the SGI OpenGL 3D graphics standard; an important step in getting serious about the 3D graphics market. 000-000-0000

Atari Inc.
(1972 to present Š sort of)
Video game manufacturer founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell (B.S. University of Utah 1969) and sold to Warner Inc. in 1976. With the introduction of Pong (also created by Nolan Bushnell), a simple ball and paddle style video game, Atari led the video game revolution of the late 70s and early 80s before falling on hard times. The Atari 2600 (1977) home video game console, with a blazing 1.19 Mhz clock speed and 128 bytes of RAM, still has a very loyal cult following, with many devoted web sites and emulators available for nostalgia buffs (like me). Enduring classics like Centipede, Missile Command, Pong, Breakout and Tempest are still being updated and re-released today with more modern 3D graphics. ATARI FIRST!: Atari Lynx Handheld Video Game (Dec 1989) was the world's first Color Portable Game Machine. The Jaguar Video Game Console (1993) was the world's first 64-Bit Game Console. The Jaguar lost its war against competitors Sega and Nintendo and was discontinued

The short lived Atari Research Center (ARC) included Scott Fischer, Jaron Lanier, Brenda Laurel and Thomas Zimmerman. Jaron Lanier, a pioneer in virtual reality (VR) developed the DataGlove here in 1983. In 1984 Warner divides Atari Inc. The home division (Atari Corp.) is sold to the founder of Commodore, Jack Tramiel; and the arcade division (Atari Games/Tengen) becomes its own company. Atari Games is then bought by Time-Warner in 1993, and is later sold to WMS in 1996. Atari Corp. is merged with JTS Corp. in 1996, and then acquired by Hasbro Interactive (a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc.) on March 16, 1998.

FACTIOD: Nolan Bushnell, creator of ³pong² and the founder of Atari Computers is also the founder of Chuck E. Cheese Pizza.

Blue Sky Studios
(1987 To present)
Located just outside Manhattan, Blue Sky Studios was formed by a handful of key people from MAGI/SynthaVision. Today the company is best known for their beautifully realistic raytraced rendering and innovative character animation.

[FACTOID] The company was also briefly known as Blue Sky Productions

Blue Sky was founded in May of 1987 by six people. (in alphabetical order) Alison Brown(Administration), David Brown(President), Michael Ferraro(Systems Architect), Carl Ludwig(VP of R&D), Dr. Eugene Troubetskoy(Chief Scientist), and Chris Wedge(vice president of creative Development). Other early key employees included Jan Carlée (Animation Director) and Tom Bisogno. Michael Ferraro developed the entire backbone of the modeling/rendering and animation environment, also designing the user interfaces and system interfaces. The programming language that he had designed integrated vector/matrix math into a simple interactive language. The language also included constructs to build procedural geometry and textures with an eye to re-implement Synthavision's ray-tracing as an "object-oriented" production environment. (Mind you this was well before C++ was well known and Java wasn't even a glimmer in someone's eye.) This work also included the development of what became the API and the job control environments for running on a network of computers, at that time still pretty much an unheard of approach. As Blue Sky¹s first TD, Michael used the language he had resigned to procedurally model and animate objects. For the next seven years as Chief Technical Director he would train and supervise the TD¹s as well as remain the ³computer scientist² of the group. Not bad for someone formally trained as an artist (BFA/Syracuse MFA/U.Mass). Michael would go on to co-found ³Possible Worlds² with partner Janine Cirincione. A major unsung pioneer of CG, Dr. Troubetzkoy developed the concept of "ray tracing" into the foundation of the company's proprietary software, CGI Studio. Today, this rendering system is considered by many in the industry to be the world's finest. Dr. Troubetzkoy developed the geometry and intersection calculations along side Carl Ludwig who handled the lighting, rendering and surface physics development. The software traces rays directly to NURBS patches without subdividing into polys as all other production code does. Dr. Troubetzkoy developed an extremely efficient method for evaluating these intersection calculations (27 coeficiants!) in order to represent mathematically perfect surfaces. Boolean operations are also used directly with NURB surfaces, circumventing again the many polygon approximation artifacts inherent to other renderers. Let it also be known that Dr. Troubetzkoy¹s brilliance is matched only by his modesty, which is the sole reason his important contributions to raytracing have gone relatively unrecognized.

[Blue Sky FACTOID] Blue Sky¹s very first jobs included a recycling campaign for the Glass Institute of NY in 1988 and a film job for "Famous Players", a theater chain in Canada. That job featured procedurally generated skies, clouds, sunset and water with a glass logo.

Later, Blue Sky¹s CG character work for the feature film "Joe's Apartment" won several top prizes at international festivals, including Imagina, the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the Ottawa International Animation Festival and the World Animation Celebration.
Blue Sky & Chris Wedge's latest release, "Bunny," a seven minute short animated film, uses a hybrid radiosity technique; a time consuming global rendering process that creates extremely realistic images. Bunny won the Academy Award for the Best Animated Short Film of 1998.

[SIDEBAR] While radiosity and raytracing are very time consuming to calculate, the BlueSky software used clever Monte-Carlo techniques (instead of patch based) to render the seven minute film. (It still took an entire month to process the bulk of the film on a 160 processor DEC farm!)

Whatever the statistics of a given project, this short film was the culmination of twelve years of a company¹s clear direction: The finest imagery possible, with no compromises. Blue Sky¹s unique imagery is clearly going to set a new standard for the year 2000 and beyond.
Twentieth Century FOX acquired a controlling interest in Blue Sky Productions in 1997 and merged the company with LA based VIFX (Which was acquired by FOX a year earlier). VIFX was in turn later sold by FOX to Hollywood CGI house Rhythm and Hues in April of 1999.

Bo Gehring Associates
Louis (Bo) Gehring began work at Magi in 1972, starting the Synthavision division with Bob Goldstein. While there, Bo created several CG tests for Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, before the idea was dropped in favor of Doug Trumbull¹s traditional miniature and practical effects approach. Instead of returning to NY and Magi, Bo stayed in LA and originally formed his company as Gehring Aviation in 1977. Based on his experience with computer controlled machine tools, he sought to capitalize on the new need for computer driven motion control cameras for visual effects work. At this time, the only systems in existence were John Dykstra¹s at George Lucas¹s ILM from StarWars, and those at Robert Abel¹s company. At about this time, creative advertising agency icon Harry Marks (Once VP at ABC, and then one half of Sullivan & Marks) had recruited Doug Trumbull to do effects work for him. Trumbull moved on to motion picture work, so Harry then turned to his fellow UCLA alum Robert Abel to help create visual effects for ABC. Bob Abel then left for Hollywood when he began his initial work on the first StarTrek film. It was then that Bo Gehring got the call from Marks to step in and create visual effects where Abel and Trumbull had left off.

[INSERT MILESTONE] Bo Gehring Associates first feature film work in 1977 was the little know ³Demon Seed² sci-fi B-movie about a computer who becomes sentient and wishes to reproduce with his creators wife. (A late night classic now to be sure.) Bo provided vector graphics for computer displays on set, making this one of the very earliest examples of CG in a feature film

In 1983 Bo Gehring Associates had about 35 employees. It was then that they developed the amazing STAR (Scene Tracking Auto Registration) automatic scene-tracking ³Electronic Rotoscoping² system. Conceived by Bo and written by non-other than Jim Clark of SGI fame,(with the front end written by Bo himself) the technique was based upon discussions Bo had with others while at Magi as early as 1974. Both simple and revolutionary, the idea was to be able to automatically track as little as four points (6 were ideal) in a filmed scene, allowing the ³camera matrix program² to extrapolate matchmove information for compositing CG imagery perfectly ³into² a live action scene. Film footage was rear projected on a vertically mounted Calcomp 30x40 inch translucent plotting surface. An Oxberry based camera rig was used to increment the rear projection images one frame at a time. Most recently, Bo Gehring worked as Director of Audio Technologies at Reality By Design, Inc. in Wobern Ma. until April of 1999.

Buf Compagne
(1982 to present)
Pierre Buffin and Henry Seydoux founded B.S.C.A (Buffin Seydoux Computer Animation) in 1982. In 1988, they finished a 6 minute 3D animation about insects living in a computer, The first "long animation" in France. Other early employees were Patrick Albert, Olivier Gilbert ,Georges Lagardere, Francois Blanchet, Christian Zumbiehl and Matthieu Schonholzer.

Cambridge Animation
Andrew Berend set up Cambridge Animation with partner Peter Florence in 198?.

Composite Image Systems
(197? To 198?)
Joe Matza, Ken Holland, and Price Pethel ­ early electronic pin-registration and compositing work. Price was a founding member of Digital Domain, more recently joining DreamQuest in 1998.

Computer Creations
(1982? to 198?)
Tom Klimek headed the company, located in the unlikely location of Southbend Indiana (Jim Lindner was NY sales rep, Gail Resnik was an employee.) Jim Lindner and Suazanne Gavril, former marketing executives at Xerox, later broke with Computer Creations and formed Fantastic Animation Machine in Manhattan. They used the first Digital Disk recorder system, the ESS-1 made by Ampex, and used code they had written on PDP-11 minicomputers for rendering. In the later eighties, they did a huge project for Williams (?) videogames. (CONFIRM DETAILS AND GET ADDITIONAL INFO!)

Computer Film Company (CFC)
Founded in 1984 by Andrew Berend, Mike Boudry, and Nick Pollock. Andrew come from a motion-control background and had previously formed Computer FX Ltd. and worked for the Moving Picture Company. Mike was the hardware guy, and Nick was software. Neil Harris joined in 1986 as a software programmer also. The intent at CFC from the very beginning was full frame digital manipulation and compositing of live action footage. This was a unique charter among startup CG facilities until very recently, that is not to be primarily concerned with vector or raster computer generated imagery. In 1985 CFC began researching what was available at that time for computer hardware, input scanning and film recording equipment. They happened upon another startup company called Benchmark Technologies in London who were in the middle of designing a computer system of their own. CFC was able to collaborate with them, optimizing the new hardware for their own specialized uses. By mid 1987 a number of private investors were pooled together (Thanks to a government tax break arrangement similar to that done in Canada at the same time) and CFC moved out of the garage and into a derelict factory building, (complete with leaking roof and broken floor boards.) The homemade scanner was done by now, built mostly from scratch but based initially on a DataCopy CCD camera. The Benchmark computer system was working, and the software was also well along and ready for the first productions. A film recorder was still a problem as several of the early commercial systems were considered and rejected. (The Matrix QCR was not deemed good enough, and the Celco CFR-700 cost a prohibitive $300,000 US). Eventually they built a little phone booth sized clean room in the building to house the film recorder. -Their First Digital Film Composite: While the majority of early jobs consisted of television work, in 1987 CFC completed work on one the first ever full frame digital film composite for a feature film, definitely the first outside the US. The film was called ³Fruit Machine² in the UK and released as ³Wonder World² for the US release. It featured a scene with a character who dives into a pool of dolphins, and then transforms into one himself. Without any affordable disc storage at the time, CFC took advantage of their double-headed film scanner to work on one frame at a time. A single frame of the foreground element would be scanned, along with a single frame of the background element, both stored in frame buffer memory simultaneously. The image manipulation was completed, with the final composite then being sent to the film recorder. The process would then be repeated one frame at a time, helped in part by the fully scriptable and repeatable functions of the digital painting software. By this time CFC had about 9 employees, including management, a producer and Janek Sirrs who was quite possibly the worlds first full time digital compositor. CFC moved out of the factory in 1988 into a facility in central London. It was also at this time that their work attracted the attention of Kodak¹s ³Electronic Intermediate Systems² group, who visited CFC to learn about their technology. Key to CFC¹s work from the very beginning was their software¹s capability to do sub-pixel accurate motion tracking, a feature which did not become common in commercial packages until very recently. Another major advantage at CFC was the constant working relationship between R&D and production. It resulted in very focused research and the ability to bid beyond existing state-of-the- art, knowing they could expand their capabilities for any given project. By 1988/89 larger and faster disc storage was in use and the scanning/recording work process was de-coupled into the more traditional arrangement familiar today. In 1990, the first major Hollywood film CFC worked on was Memphis Belle. CFC replaced about a dozen ³less than perfect² traditional optically composited scenes of flying bombers with much better quality digital composites. They also digitally restored and colorized some old black and white WWII footage. Mike visited LA in 1991 and started looking into potential business there. CFC then opened an office in LA in 1992 which has gone on to contribute significant work to dozens of major feature films including The Huddsucker Proxy, MORE , etc. CFC has been honored twice with Technical Achievement Academy Awards. Once in 1995 for their contribution to digital film scanning, and again in 199? For their pioneering work in digital compositing. In August of 1997 CFC sold 100% ownership to MegaloMedia which also owns London¹s Frame Store post house and the Sachi & Sachi company. Today, alongside Domino, Cineon, Matador and Flame systems, CFC still uses their original Benchmark computer systems, a true testament to how far ahead that technology was when first designed over a dozen years ago. -Where did everyone go?: Andrew would leave CFC to help set up Cambridge Animation with Peter Florence.

Computer FX Ltd. (CFX)
(1982 to present) Computer FX Ltd. (later called CFX Ltd, and today called CFX Associates.) was formed by Andrew Berend, Ian Chisholm and Craig Zerouni in 1982. They began by purchasing the first IMI (Interactive Machines Inc) vector display device, a real- time, monochrome, vector device which competed with E&S products. (PDI may have bought the second IMI, or possibly the other way around) This was the first real-time animation system in Europe. Craig wrote some code to generate realistic water and reflections before anyone else in the UK. They also built a frame buffer and render engine based on the Texas DSP chip. It did all its render arithmetic in fixed point, and so was very fast for what it cost.

[SIDEBAR COMMENT] I was once animating with a client, who said something like "this is amazing, how fast you can do this stuff. This must help you get it right very easily" to which I replied "We don't make any fewer mistakes than anybody else. We just compress the time between mistakes." - Craig Zerouni

Film output was accomplished by filming directly off the monitor through different colored gels. The camera and the gels were controlled by the IMI itself, so the original animation package had a scripting system that involved animation files, passes over the film, and colors. Since the number of colors in the wheel was limited (to 6, I think), sometimes a person would have to stand there in the dark and change filters between shoots. (Some of this hardware was also built by Mike Boudry.) Andrew Berend left in late 1984 to join Mike Boudry and co-found the Computer Film Company (CFC).

[QUOTE] ³Just as CFX was realizing that the wireframe business was evaporating, and that our own home-grown raster hardware/software wasn't going to get good enough fast enough (we were always small), two guys called John Penney and Greg Hermanovic phoned us up.
They said they were from Omnibus Computer Graphics, the world's first publicly listed computer animation company, and they were looking to franchise their software around the world. They wanted to start with England because they could speak the language and because it was arguably the next most advanced market after North America.
After a lot of talking and thinking and listening to total lies ("we have a million dollar inventory of already built objects at Omnibus" - in other words, instead of writing off the cost of building a 3D football as the cost of doing a job, they were capitalizing it as an asset) we decided ok, we'll buy the stuff. Terms were arranged (I think the number was in the region of $CAN100,000), and a reel of software (just like you seen in those 50s science fiction films) arrived. We installed it. As franchisees, we were entitled to the source code, so that's what we got. We installed it and got to understanding it.
Meanwhile, Omnibus, belching after having eaten Robert Able and Digital Productions back-to-back, fell over. Kaput. Out of business. The world's first shareholders in computer animation found out what a great business this is. But we had never paid for the software we had, which we were now happily using in production.
Eventually, the receivers called us up and demanded payment. We refused, on the grounds that,without support, it wasn't worth nearly as much. Eventually, we settled for about $CAN20,000 I believe. But we still had source.
Greg surfaced from under the wreckage of Omnibus, with his partner Kim Davidson, and called us up, offering to support PRISMS, which is what the software had been called at Omnibus. We agreed.
So not only was CFX the world's first customer for Side Effects Software, but we had source for a few years, until we agreed to give up getting updates (we were always fair and reasonable!). And we used the source - I once ported the command line and channel manipulation portion of PRISMS to an Atari Amiga, which we used to control our own motion control rig.² - Craig Zerouni

CFX constantly tried to reinvent the medium, partnering with a traditional animation company called Shootsey, to try to sell agencies on the idea of mixing the two media. That never went anywhere; but they also built a motion control rig of their own. [QUIOTE] ³One of our first rendered jobs went to 1-inch tape (remember that?) via a Sony BVH-2000 (or 2500, whichever it was that allowed single frame edits). The frame buffer would fill with the image, then a person had to hit "edit" on the Sony, and it would pre-roll, run forward, record the frame, and then stop. Then a person had to tell the computer to render the next frame. That person was me. I had to stay awake, hitting 2 buttons every 5 minutes, in the correct order, for about 36 hours straight, in order to get it done on time. The truth is, I did fall asleep for a few hours around 5AM, so I lost some time, but I don't think it matters now if I admit it.² ­Craig Zerouni Relates Craig Zerouni: ³To do one job, I recall, we had no way of getting digital video back and forth to a post- house, so we ended up taking our 100 lb Abekas A60 and putting in the back of a taxi as a method of getting the D1 back and forth. It took 2 or 3 people to do this, plus a little wheely cart thing we had. It was, like everything else about this business, completely mad.²

Computer Graphics Laboratory Inc.
(1981 to 1992)
The commercial production company set up by the NYIT Computer Graphics Lab. The reason it was created was because NYIT would have jeopardized its non-taxable status if its computer graphics lab (as distinguished from CGL Inc.) had engaged in major commercial projects. Commercials included many ³glitzy² sports promos for CBS, spots for Volkswagon, Chevrolette and the ³Live From Lincoln Center² open (which is still showing today.) . Many ³technical directors². researchers and animators worked here including Pat Hanrahan and Ken Wesley(ILM). Two young animators, Glenn McQueen and Rex Grignon, are now animation supervisors at Pixar and PDI respectively.

Computer Image Corporation (CIC)
Based in Denver, CIC was the brainchild of Lee Harrison , and was in the business of making "analog computer graphics" in the early 1970s. These unique machines included Animac, CAESAR and Scanimate. Lee received the first ever Emmy for "Technical Achievement" in 1973 for his work. (See the article on Scanimate by Ed Kramer for more details about all this.) Lee Harrison passed away in 1998.

[QUOTE] ³In the 80's we produced graphics animation, character animation and special effects direct to video. This group is often overlooked because of the analog video component of their systems. However, they implemented computer control of many aspects of the animation process, keyframing, hierarchical control structures and image processing, years before many others in the field.² ­Jim Johnson

Employees included Kirk Paulson, Phil Zimmerman. Jim Johnson was a Director and Technical Director there for over 6 years, from 1980 to 1986. Jim Johnson (JJ) is now Executive Producer at Deep Blue Sea in Miami, FL.

Cranston/Csuri Productions (CCP)
(1981 To 1987)
Cranston-Csuri was founded in August of 1981 by Charles Csuri or Ohio State and investor Robert Kanuth of The Cranston Companies. Jim Kristoff (also a past Treasurer of Ohio State) came with Kanuth and served as president, while Wayne Carlson of Ohio State was VP and head of R&D. Michael Collery was Director of Animation, Don Stredney developed the medical imaging market and Dr. Tom Linehan devloped the educational market. Along with Shawn Ho (rendering), Paul Sidlo (Creative Director) and Bob Marshal, the first employees numbered about ten total. [FACTOID] Cranston/Csuri was originally to be called Animatrix, but the name was already being used by another company. Hardware included PDP 11-780 and 750's, a Megatek vector display and an IMI Pyramid (3 or 4 mips) and VAX 780 (1 mip!). One of the first production ethernet networks connected everyone. Rendering at that time was done to memory, not to hard a disc, and was output to a Celco 2000 film recorder. Also used was a rare but extremely cool digital disk recorder called an Ampex ESS. (Way ahead of it's time in 1983, the Abekas was not released until about 1987.) The primary rendering pipeline was originally developed by Frank Crow, with his scn_assembler. Shawn Ho made significant advances to the this by adding new features such as reflection mapping and he worked out a way of simulation refractions. (It was however limited to rendering scenes with less then 10000 polygons.) Wayne Carlson wrote most of the modeling code, and Bob Marshal did lots of systems type stuff and misc. production software. Michael Collery wrote compositing software and other misc. stuff, while Julian Gomez came along and wrote Twixt on the E&S Picture System. The animation software was used on the "IMI" (vector based graphical display device), and the modeling software ran on the MEGATEK. Mark Howard (head of engineering) designed and built the ³Mark² series of frame buffers from scratch.(!)
The first work done at CCP was for ABC News in New York, and later for ABC Sports. The relationship between CCP and ABC Sports President Roger Goodman lasted for many years. It did not end until 1984 when they reluctantly had to turn down the work for that year¹s winter Olympics. Because CCP was already booked with work, Jim Kristoff suggested that ABC use a new company on the west coast who were building an excellent reputation: Pacific Data Images. Also in 1984 Cranston-Csuri acquired $3 million of additional investor capital from several organizations. Although owning only a minority share in the company, the new investors controlled the board, and did not agree with President Jim Kristoff¹s plans for its future. Chief among the disagreements were the idea of licensing CCP software, and the idea of opening a production office in Los Angeles.
During its existence, CCP produced almost 800 animation projects for over 400 clients world-wide, including all the networks, cable channels, educational and medical animation. [QUOTE] ³Paul Sidlo was really a great broadcast designer and developed a large and loyal client base which he took with him to RezN8. I think we did the first cgi tv commercial (non vector) in the USA which was a spot for the USFL football team called the LA Express. There had been earlier cgi commercials produced for foreign clients by Digital Effects, but we where the first in the US. We did the first CGI (non vector) network fall compaign for NBC, the first cgi superbowl open, the first news open. We did two really cools spots for TRW back in the days of the big budget high art/ low content tv commercials. (ABEL did some really nice TRW spots using vector graphic and motion control). We did the second Dow scrubbing bubbles (the first was done at Magi). We won a lots of awards and had a great deal of success in television.² -Michael Collery In 1985 the in-house software was finally licensed to the Japan Computer Graphics Laboratory (JCGL) for use in the Japanese market. After years of a stalemate over the LA office issue, Kristoff suggested that the board of investors sell out to him and a new group of investors, who could then do as they pleased. The idea was given initial approval and Kristoff secured financial support from Mitz Kaneko (with the Japan Computer Graphics Laboratory in Tokyo) and other investors led by a friend of Mr. Kaneko¹s. At this point a number of promising new employees were hired and began training, conditionally to staff the soon to be opened LA office of Cranston-Csuri. When Mr. Kaneko¹s friend unfortunately passed away soon after, the new investors balked, the CCP board changed their mind, and the deal was promptly canceled. Jim Kristoff then resigned, with Wayne Carlson replacing him as President. In the final months of 1987, the software was ultimately purchased by Lamb and Company in Minneapolis when Cranston Csuri Production went out of business.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? At is high, CCP employed some 80 people, many of whom are active leaders in the field of CG today. -Chuck Csuri left CCP in 1985 to return to his OSU duties at CGRG. He is actively pursuing new technologies to create new forms of computer graphic fine art. -John Berton (Now a VFX Supervisor at ILM) was a TD who did a CG logo for a Twisted Sister Music Video. -Jeff Light wrote the code that ran the Celco at CCP and is now Motion Capture Supervisor at ILM. -Paul Sidlo founded RezN8 -Jim Kristoff and Dobbie Schiff went on to LA to form MetroLight. -Others employees included: Shawn Ho (now at SGI), Julian Gomez (now at Lego), Michael Collery (PDI), Andy White (ILM), Tom Hutchinson (ILM), Susan Van Baerle (LambSoft), John Donkin (Blue Sky), Scott Dyer (Windlight/Nelvana).

(1988 to 19??)
Formed as a partnership in October of 1987 and incorporated in 1988 by Brad deGraf and Michael Wahrman.

(1988 to present)
Research and technology company formed by Gary Demos after leaving the Whitney/Demos bankruptcy. Began with contract work for various projects, including setting up the original Triple-I Digital Film Printer (DFP) at Pacific Title in 91, connecting it via HPPI to an SGI network. The DFP had been literally just sitting in a warehouse when Digital Productions (who had leased it from Triple-I) went out of business in 1987. DemoGraFX presently specializes in High Definition television technology.

Digital Effects
Founded by Judson Rosebush and Jeff Kleiser (Kleiser was Animation Director and President), along with Don Leitch, David Cox, Moses Weitzman, Jann Printz and Bob Hoffman (who was later at Omnibus and RGA).
The first CG house in Manhattan. [QUOTE] ³Our original setup was a 1200 baud modem connection to an Amdahl V6 running APL in Bethesda Maryland using a Tekronix dispay to preview wireframe (polygons refreshed at one per second, that¹s one polygon per second!). The perspective data was written onto 9 track tape and mounted on an IBM 370/158 to do scan conversion. Another tape was written as hi con images onto 9 track and shipped to LA for film recording on a Stromberg Carlson 4020 film recorder. Processed film was sent to NYC where I deinterlaced it onto hicon film and made a print to separate out the colors and have matte rolls that I could mount on an optical printer to do multiple passes with color filters onto color negative, which was then processed and printed at Technicolor downstairs. Total time to see a color image: 1 week tops.² ­Jeff Kleiser

Quick additions to in-house computing were a Harris 800 and a Dicomed film recorder. They also built a frame buffer to see color images quickly, and wrote a paint system for it. Digital Effects was one of four companies to create CG for the film TRON. They producing the opening title sequence where pieces of TRON fly in over a bright light source to form his body, and also did all the scenes involving the flying cuboid character ³Bit² who could say yes or no. In the end, the many partners and employees wanted to operate the company differently, and the politics and personalities were causing work to go elsewhere. The best solution was to simply shut down the company and have people go their separate ways. Jeff Kleiser went on to Omnibus/LA as the Director of their new Motion Picture Special Effects division. The Judson Rosebush Company was founded in 1986 and is located in New York City. It is a creative multimedia studio currently producing commercial and entertainment CD-ROM titles and world wide web sites.

Digital Pictures
(1980 to 19??)
Digital Pictures was co-founded by Chris Briscoe and Paul Brown in 1980 as the UK's first specialist computer animation company. Liam Scanlan was the first employee, and Peter Florence and Steve Lowe soon joined as co-directors. [QUOTE] ³Digital pictures was eventually sold to a company called Molinaire, which was itself owned by WH Smith. Moli was a TV post house, so buying DP made sense. WH Smith was (and is) a chain of bookstores, and what they were doing buying TV companies is not clear, nor was it then.² ­Craig Zerouni [QUOTE] ³When I first started, we were working on Data General Eclipse 3300s, two of them. Each machine was about 7 feet high, 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep, had 32 Kb main memory and a 300Mb disk drive which was about twice the size of a domestic washing machine. I'd say they were maybe 4 or 5 times more powerfull than an Amiga 500. We rendered tests direct to a frame buffer, usually 1-2 days for a 5-10 second test and rendered directly to a Matrix film plotter - there was no disk space to store rendered images as files. Each frame would take 30-90 minutes to render and 10 minutes to plot. Color consistency isn't guaranteed across film baths so if we missed or gashed a frame, we started over after we'd got the film back from the labs. Our renderer, which was a fine one, was written in house, did no ray tracing or texture mapping, had no reflection maps but did have shadows as long as we didn't use re-entrant polygons in our models. Intersecting surfaces were a no-no. We modeled and animated by writing Fortran 5 code. The last job done on the Eclipses was at a stage when they were so knackered that I was entirely losing disk data about 3 times a day and was archiving my code every 20 minutes or so I could recover it after I'd reformatted the disk every time it went down. One of the disk drives bust so I was booting one machine, starting a render, removing the drive and plugging it back into the other machine so I could start a render on that one. My 8 second sting took a week to render. The air conditioner was being overworked so much it would freeze up every couple of hours, melt and dump gallons of water into the machine room. We had buckets all over the disk drives and mainframes. I didn't get to go home for 10 days.² -Kim Aldis Paul Brown is now Professor of Communication Design at Queensland University of Technology, and Steve Lowe is a successful commercials director in London. Liam Scanlan is the Head Of Technical Directors at ILM in Marin Co. CA.

Digital Productions
Digital Productions was formed in 1981 by Gary Demos and John Whitney Jr., having just left Triple-I right before the Tron work began production there. Elsa Granville was employee number three and the Director of Human Resources, Brad deGraf (Head of Production) and Larry Yaeger (Director/VP of Software) were hired very soon thereafter. Producers included Sherry McKenna and Nancy St.John. Jim Rapley and Art Durinski joined DP after having worked on Tron at Triple-I. Producer B.J. Rack later went on to work with James Cameron on the original Terminator film, the renderer was based on Movie-BYU originally. So why the famous Cray? Knowing precisely what kind of performance they would require to start a production company, Demos initially called Ivan Sutherland and discussed just what the cost would be to build a big mainframe. (Remember SGI did not yet exist and there would be no ³workstations² as we know it for almost another ten years!) The only reasonable option it seems was the next generation Cray, the XMP. The plan was to lease the as-yet-to-be-released Cray XMP, but they took on an older Cray-1S initially to get a head start with writing code. Capital funding was by Control Data Corporation (CDC) and Ramtek, which went toward renting the Triple-I DFP (Digital Film Printer) and the Cray 1S. (CDC was a big mainframe manufacturer originally founded by Seymour Cray)

³A Cray is a real headache. This one had like a $12,000 a month electric bill, and the maintenance and support bill for the "Crayons", the people who attended to it and kept it working came to like $50,000 a month. Its like a 747 jetliner. If its not in the air with seats full, you're losing money!² ­David Sieg

DP¹s first major computer graphic project was for The Last Starfighter, $4.5 million worth of state-of-the-art high resolution CG animation. Beginning in Oct 83, Digital Productions traded in the ³older² Cray-1S for the very first Cray X-MP supercomputer. The Cray was fronted by a VAX 11/780 and was used to produce nearly 300 shots totaling 25 minutes of screen time. The team used E&S PS400's for modeling and IMI vector motion systems for motion preview with Ramtek frame buffers for display. When Triple-I had wrapped the TRON work and decided not to continue in the CG film business, DP leased the Digital Film Printer (DFP) and hooked it up to on of the high speed channels of the Cray. The Cray driven DFP could scan 35mm film at four seconds a frame, and film out the 2000x2560 rendered images at twelve seconds a frame. For the first time, highly detailed computer generated images were integrated with live action as realistic scene elements, rather than as monitor graphics or deliberately ³CG² looking images. Gary Demos from the very begining always had the drive to only produce the highest resolution, highest quality imagery possible. Kevin Rafferty(ILM) led the team that digitally encoded (modeled) many of the forms designed for the film by Ron Cobb. The technique used was to have top, front and side views of the model drawn orthographically on blueprint-like paper. A mouse/cursor (or ³puck²) with cross hairs would then be used to input the lines of the drawing, one point at a time. Details even included little 3D digital stunt actors inside the Gunstar¹s cockpit. -³PICTURE CARDS² For The Last StarFighter, practical explosion elements were licensed from John Dykstra¹s company Apogee and were scanned into the computer. Code was written to pull mattes from the explosion elements (which were often shot against black), which were then applied to square polygons and placed into the 3D scene. Scripts to play the running footage on these ³picture cards² (as Gary Demos called them) were written by Brad DeGraf. Other effects of note were the fractal code written by Walter Gish used for the moon and cave scenes. (Dually inspired by the work of Loren Carpenter and Mandelbrot.)

³In another room is Ron Cobb, master of detail, carefully designing every last square inch of those spaceships. There was not one grommet on any of those ships that didn't have a purpose that Ron could describe.² ³I remember one time I was animating the scene where Alex had just blown away the Rylon cargo ship, deep in the tunnels of the asteroid. The shot begins with the Gunstar facing away from the camera, pointed into the dead-end of the tunnel. Alex has just made his first real-life kill. The storyboard called for the Gunstar to "turn around sadly." So at this point I'm not exactly a seasoned animator, just a couple of semesters of hand-drawn fishes and some computer generated T-bone steaks under my belt. I show Ron the motion test for the sad, turning Gunstar, which is sort of slow and has a little kind of "Aw, shucks" kick to it. Ron's response was to turn to me, look me in the eye, and say very sweetly and kindly, "Well, Paul, I think maybe that's a little bit _too_ sad, don't you?" Paul Isaacs "The Last Starfighter", Digital Production Technical Director 7/83-5/85.

As the Last Starfighter production wrapped up (on time and on budget) in April of 1984, a critical financial squeeze occurred. DP was forced to purchase the $17 million Crap-XMP instead of continuing the lease. This critical drain of cash put DP in the vulnerable position of being the target of a hostile taken over by Omnibus in 1986. Craig Upson and Larry Yaeger worked on the Jupiter destruction sequence with Boss Film for the film 2010:Odysee2. Bill Kroyer designed, animated, and technical directed the flying owl in the award-winning opening title sequence of Labyrinth (1985/86), produced by Alan Peach. Bill Kroyer and Chris Baily animated Mick Jagger's Hard Woman rock video in 1985. The 4.5 minute long animation was Co-produced by Nancy St.John and Alan Peach. Because of the tught deadline, the team concentrated on the character animation, with rendering being restricted to extremely simplified tube-like forms. Digital Productions also began creating many different kinds of noteworthy projects at this time. New work included Clio award-winning commercials and also test footage for special projects, including Dune (1984) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) television pilot. -COMMERCIAL WORK: While the recent tests did not result in any work for those projects, DP would create some 300 commercials in 1985 alone. Key to this success was the strict sign-off policies and ³client control² skills of Sherry McKenna, the Executive Producer. Sherry had come from Robert Abel¹s company, and was tasked with producing some 60 overlapping commercial projects in-house at any one time, each with a deadline of about 2 months. The storyboards for a job would be part of the contract, and any changes requested would mean a new contract , new budget and a new schedule. The hires model designs would be signed-off on by the Art Directors, and lores versions would then be used to generate motion tests. At the same time, local and model lighting tests would be approved as well as global scene lighting. The next step would be to generate lores rendered animation scenes of the complete job, which would be approved by the client before committing to final hi-res rendering. Because of this strict incremental process, the final job would seldom have to be re-rendered more than once.

³Šwhere else would geeky programmers ever have had the chance to meet the likes of Jim Henson, Mick Jagger, DEVO, The Tubes, etc. etc.? I remember sending my parents a copy of an article about the company that appeared in TIME magazine, written about our first-ever use of a Cray supercomputer to product special effects instead of military/defense applicationsŠ. Lots of daytime meetings, arguing about software architecture, that never mattered since we were hacking our way through it every night at 2 am instead.² ­ -Emily Nagle Green Digital Productions software designe and marketing 1982-1987

DP also had a division of the company that was set up in 1985 to provide computing services and graphics production to the business and scientific community. The feature film and commercial production cycles had slow-time that could be filled by this other new area of CG. Cray time was sold to such companies as General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the National Science Foundation. Stefen Fangmier(ILM), Craig Upson(Protozoa), Phil Sherwood and Emily Nagle Green worked for this part of the company. By now the total Digital Production employee count was up to about 100. -THE OMNIBUS TAKEOVER: In about 1985, CDC and Ramtek were both breaking up or going out of business themselves, and wanted out of the digital movie making business at any cost. Anxious to cut their losses, the board went along with a hostile takeover bid by Omnibus, breaking there agreement with Whitney Jr. and Demos. Backed by the Royal Bank of Canada, Omnibus arranged for a leveraged buy-out that would burden them with nearly $25 million in debt. Unable to prevent what they saw as sheer folly, and also unable to afford a costly legal battle to protect their company, John Whitney Jr. and Gary Demos left to start up Whitney/Demos Productions. Digital Productions was renamed "Omnibus Simulation" in June of 1986, and declared bankruptcy (along with Omnibus and Abel) only 9 months later on April 13th of 1987.

Electric Image (EI)
(1983 to 1998) Paul Docherty left his position as Head of Graphics at London¹s leading post house Molinare and set up Electric Image in 1983. The company was funded by private shareholders, a number of which were previously Pauls clients. Paul and his then Technical Director Stewart McEwan (who Paul had hired out of Molinare) spent two years producing real time video based animation for the television market on Dubner equipment. They then bought the first two SGI terminals (at that stage SGI only made terminals) sold out of the US and used them as a front end to a DEC VAX 11-780. The disk drives were two removable platter ³washing machines² which stood about 3 feet high and held a massive 450megs of data. [QUOTE] ³We were told that only a month before a shipment marked ³Tractor Parts² had been intercepted on its way to West Germany and found to contain a VAX computer, so the extremely jumpy American customs people grabbed our SGI terminals. We had to hire a lawyer in the states in order to get them released, two weeks after we were due to start on British Telecom International¹s new corporate identity using this gear.² ­Paul Docherty At the time the only other people doing raster animation in the UK were Digital Pictures (with their own code) and Electronic Arts (using various movie-byu bits). Paul did a source code co-development deal with Abel Image Research (Robert Abel¹s software division), where Electric helped with some the PAL video issues and worked closely with the Abel team to debug the code. The development team at Abel at the time included Roy Hall, Hank Weghorst, Kim Shelley a number of other Cornell luminaries. EI began using the Abel system for television work and eventually added an Oxberry Matrix 35mm camera for film work. Like most companies of this early era, the EI team had to work pretty much from scratch creating custom renders, color look up tables, modeling utilities etc., and without the benefit of the academic superstructure that already existed in the US. [QUOTE] ³The working hours were ridiculous and the processing ungodly slow but everyone at EI seemed to get caught up in the buzz of it all.² ­Paul Docherty EI created commercials, television ids, program inserts, small bits for European features ­ in fact, pretty much anything anyone asked for. The animation team included Ian Bird (who now runs London animation house Eye), Mike Milne (who heads up facility house The Frame Store¹s animation section), and Ian MacFadyen and Stephen Coren (who run Drum, a small London animation house). The technical side included Stewart McEwan (who now runs the multimedia software section of Dorland Kindersley) and David Benson (now at ILM). [QUOTE] ³The various shareholders felt that we should have a gimmicky name for the VAX/SGI/AbelGraphix combination, so at a late night pub session Colin Reynolds drunkenly suggested ³Doris². After a few more pints we decided that DORIS stood for ³Digital Optical Raster Imaging System² and that¹s what we told the press it was called.² ­Paul Docherty The company was responsible for many European ³firsts² ­ first to use C and Unix for commercial graphics production (most everyone else was using VMS and Pascal), the first bit of serious raytracing on UK television (an ident for Yorkshire Television), the first real time display SGI graphics terminals, first UK dynamics animation package (written by David Benson). A heavy use of clever compositing and geometric projection tricks (picked up from the Abel initially) gave the company¹s work a distinctive look and built up a reputation for quality With the collapse of Omnibus/Abel/Digital Productions (or ³Omnivore² as the guys at Abel dubbed it) in 1987, EI was now on its own as far as software development. The company continued to develop the Abel system, and were joined by Paul Newell from Abel (now at Rhythm and Hues) who helped keep the code developing, adding a new animation system called (for no apparent reason) DREK. In 1991 the company began to shift towards commercial software, using TDI Explore, augmented by Wavefront¹s Dynamation and Kinemation. Shortly thereafter Simon Maddocks (now ILM) joined and eventually became Head of Animation. David Benson developed a clever ray tracer for the AT&T Pixel Machine, one of the early parallel processing systems. EI became the first UK company to be able to render depth of field, motion blur, and other realistic effects without going bust in the process. Joakim Arnesson was a Technical Director there briefly, as was current fellow ILMer Ben Snow. About this time EI became one of the founding shareholders in The Frame Store, along with director Steve Barron (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Merlin, etc.). The new company had the first Quantel Harry and has since grown in to one of Europe¹s largest digital post houses. In 1996 EI produced all the digital effects for Space Truckers (120 shots, about 15 minutes in all) which although modest by current standards, was a substantial project at that time, especially in European terms. In an effort to try and find some stability in the ³feast or famine² effects market in London, EI hired Bob Auger and started Electric Switch, one of the first MPEG compression facilities in Europe and currently the European market leader in DVD authoring. Using Switch¹s compression hardware the company pioneered the transfer of MPEG1 video clips of rushes to locations around the world. In 1997-98 EI produced about 80 shots for Lost in Space, and produced a 4-minute ride film for the new GM pavilion at Disneyland. Unfortunately, various legal and technical problems caused shareholders in November 98 to pull the plug on EI and concentrate on the new DVD company. The company¹s 16 year life span made it one of the longest lasting computer animation houses in European history.

Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation (E&S)
(1968 to present)
Incorporated in 1968 by Dave Evans and Ivan Sutherland, E&S was the first computer graphics company ever formed. Based in Salt Lake City Utah, E&S produced vector graphics workstations initially for military flight simulator use, but later for many commercial companies as well such as Robert Abel¹s and Cranston/Csuri. E&S first products were the LDS- 1, LDS-2 then Picture System-2 vector systems; all used with another host system such as the VAX-11/780 (Abel used a PS2 with the Gould 6031) Current products include the MindSet Virtual Studio, Accel|Galaxy 3D and FuseBox 3.0 for NT. E&S sold a minority share of (non-voting) stock to Intel in 1998. 801-588-1000

Ex Machina
(1989 to present) Ex Machina was created in 1989 with the merger of two French CG production companies: Sogitec and the production division of Thomson Digital Image (TDI). With the born of Ex Machina, TDI itself then continued only involved in developing the Explore Software. Ex Machina has been involved in many different areas of CG production, both commercials and films including all formats ( Imax, 70/35mm, stereo, HVISION, etc.). Clients were mainly from Europe and Japan, with most of the large format films, such as IMAX, being produced for North American clients. TDI's Explore software has been used at Ex Machina since its inception. It¹s R&D department even wrote some of the tools shipped with that commercial package, such as the particle system and the script-based modeler ³build². Like other major production companies, Ex Machina has also relied on developing it¹s own custom software. Its in- house character animation system ³Appia² was developed in 1991/92 and first used during the production of "World of Materials" directed by Jerzy Kukar. This was a 10 minutes 70mm stereo movie for a Korean International Festival. (Ex Machina was also involved in the training of CG artists for a Korean CG company who did one part of the film.) Later Softimage was introduced for animation (Explore been still used for modeling and rendering, and Appia for secondary animation), and more recently NT workstations with 3DS Max were brought into production. The VFX department was created in 1991 for "Simeon" directed by Euzhan Palcy for which Ex Machina bought a scanner from RFX. The compositing software ³depict² was developed and extensively used in conjunction with scanning (RFX) and shooting (MGI|Solitaire) hardware to create some ghost appearances. At this time Christian Guillon was at the head of the department. Matador was also chosen as the primary 2D tool, supplemented more recently by After Effect running on Macintosh platforms. (Author¹s note: Major contributions for Ex Machina, Sogitec and TDI are from Frédéric SCHMIDT, Christian Foucher and Nicolas Popravka)

Fantastic Animation Machine (FAM)
Jim Lindner and Suazanne Gavril, former marketing executives at Xerox, broke with Computer Creations, and formed Fantastic Animation Machine in Manhattan, making animations chiefly with a 32-bit Ridge microcomputer, on proprietary software (C & UNIX).

Homer and Associates
Animation company formed by Peter and Coco Conn.

Image West
Image West was based around analog video animation equipment such as the Scanimate, which manipulated video imagery and captured artwork. Cliff Brown was president and David Sieg was Chief Engineer. Animators included Peter Koczera, Ed Kramer, Russ Maehl and Roy Weinstock. Image West Art Directors were Sonny King, Henry Kline II and Gary McKinnon Its only feature film CG project was for the original Star Wars film in 1977. The Yavin planet count down imagery was done by John Wash and Jay Teitzell. A great deal more imagery for Star Wars was traditional animation, analog effects and other non-CG techniques. Image West was bought from Computer Image's bank at a bargain in 197?. They were in the midst of splitting from a Canadian parent company, called Omnibus Group. (See Omnibus)

³Digital image-making state of the art was a PDP-11 and a $50,000 framebuffer, and a bunch of assembly or FORTRAN programmers hacking away from scratch. Triple-I, NYIT, and MAGI were about the only people going that route. Image West had always had the advantage of "real time", meaning that despite the limitations of the analog rescan technology, it could run right before your eyes, and be adjusted on the fly. Its big downfall was complete lack of repeatability, due to all those knobs and patch wires. (Scanimate) After reviewing all the options, Cliff Brown and I decided a good approach would be to build a system based on the analog rescan technology, but using digital computers to track and store the setups needed to repeat a job. I did not realize at the time how large a project this would be (VersEFX).² -David Seig, Image West

[IMAGE] ED Kramer in front of Scannimate.

Image West moved from Hollywood to Studio City, CA in 1983.

³This was the first facility I had ever designed that involved raised computer flooring. Half of the building was on a level two feet lower than the other half. So we used raised computer flooring to make the two floor levels equal. This gave us about 20" under the floor for cables, power and air conditioning.² -David Sieg, Image West (

The company faced increasingly hard times competing with the trend of completely digital effects, 3D CG and digital video effects boxes like the ADO. The new VersEFX system that they had partnered with SFP on (the French TV production company) had gone to France, and they were trying to build one for themselves. But hybrid video technology was not going to able to compete with the all digital systems, so they made a deal with Symbolics to get one of their S-series systems with both paint and 3D Capabilities. Unfortunately, they could never return to the revenue levels they had been working at with the Scanimates, and in desperation, they attempted a public offering on the Vancouver stock exchange. That attempt failed and the company closed its doors in 1985.

Industrial Light and Magic (ILM)
The Computer Graphics Division was originally formed in 1979 when Ed Catmull was selected by George Lucas to start an in-house research group. Richard Edlund (at the time an ILM Visual Effects Supervisor) flew to meet with Ed at NYIT for a secret meeting to discuss the offer. Ed and Alvy Ray Smith went to great lengths to keep the offer a secret from their patron Dr. Alexander Shure, even going so far as to rent a manual type-writer to draft a proposal letter to Lucas. (For fear of the otherwise un-secure email system at NYIT.) At the time, LucasFilm headquarters was in a building called the ³Egg Company² in LA, across from Universal Studios. (Star Wars has been created at the original headquarters in VanEyes(sp?).) Ed then flew out to meet with George, and was hired soon after. Because The Empire Strikes Back was still in production (up in Marin Co.), its financial success was anything but certain and Lucas was cautious about committing to a large scale research effort right away. The offer that was made was thus only for Catmull himself, even though a great many of his group at NYIT wanted to come with him to California too. Things did develop quickly however and Alvy Ray Smith soon joined Ed to move into their first official space; a converted laundromat in San Enselmo, California. At the start, there were actually three distinct group efforts; the graphics group itself was headed by Alvy, a video editing group was headed by Ralph Guggenhiem (sp?), and a digital audio group headed by Alan Moore (from Stanford). Malcolm Blanchard and David DiFransisco also joined the group soon after.

[FUNNY GEORGE STORY] The second floor of the building was being completely renovated for the video editing space, and George would come by occasionally to check up on the work. One day he stops by and makes a casual question about why a wall has a door put in a particular location. Some days later he returns to find that the construction workers have actually moved the door to another spot! Hoping to avoid future misunderstandings, George tells the workers that just because he asks a question doesn¹t mean they need necessarily jump to conclusions and change something. Satisfied that all is now well, he leaves the workers to finish the job. Returning again sometime later, he finds that the workers have moved the door back to its original position. ­story related by Dr. Ed Catmull 3/99

A few years later the Graphics group would move to a new custom office space up north in Bell Marin Keys, Novato. (This was also the year of the big Marin County flood that left 5 feet of water in down town San Enselmo). In 1983 the permanent space for ILM in SanRafael was finished, and the Graphics Group moved into ³C² building on Kerner Blvd. Also during this time, many LucasFilm corporate and management changes take place, with the original President Charlie Weber being replaced by Bob Greeber, who is then replaced by Doug Norby. The ³Egg Company² LucasFilm location in LA is closed down, and development on SkyWalker Ranch was ongoing. The Graphics group settled into several basic research projects. The film IO project was headed by David DiFransisco who designed a laser-based film scanner and recorder as one unit. From the very beginning it was clear that no one had ever solved the numerous challenges of perfecting a laser based film recorder. There was some still work being done, and military research, but even mighty Kodak at the time was not sure it could be done. In 1980 the first tests were done (on 5247 stock), and by 1983 the Pixar image computer was integrated in the heart of the scanner/recording system. Young Sherlock Holmes in 1984 was the first production to use the new machine, completing for the very first time ever, a complete digital composite of a CG character onto live action imagery. The digital film printer would go on to complete work on a dozen ILM film projects, eventually being retired in 1991. David DiFransisco (Then and still at Pixar) was able to get the machine back by trading it for Pixar Image computer hardware. He then was able to fulfill a wish to donate the historical hardware to the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography¹s Permanent Apparatus Collection. Tom Duff, Sam Lefler, Bill Reeves and Eben Ostby worked on the animation system architecture. Real time 2D line drawing was accomplished with a PERQ vector system from 3- Rivers (2 million vectors in a 30th of a second). The new Sun (Stanford University Network) computers were a full 32 bit system based on the Motorola 68000 chip. John Semans (sp?) ported UNIX to the SUN, and the Graphics Group made a deal which allowed SUN to use the port in exchange for receiving a 30% discount on their hardware in perpetuity. When George Lucas decided in 1985 to sell off the division and begin a new production oriented department, Catmull called upon Doug Kay and George Joblove. Kay and Joblove were running their own production company in LA, and would be asked to come in and basically start from scratch when every single employee left together to start Pixar.

[CLOSE CALL!] Ironically, when first offered the opportunity from Dr. Catmull, Kay and Joblove turned him down! Dr. Catmull quickly called Doug back on the phone and politely told them: ³You¹re crazy! This is an opportunity of a lifetime! Come back up here for another interview, we¹ll do it all over again². The two partners agreed, returned and promptly changed their minds.

Major projects: €Young Sherlock Homes(Stained Glass Knight) €Indiana Jones: Temple Of Doom(Donovan's destruction), €Willow(morf) €Abyss(Pseudopod) €T2(T-1000) €Jurassic Park(dinos) € Back To The Future II and III: digital compositing intensive €Scott Anderson¹s underwater particle effects for The Hunt For Red October €Ghost €procedural spider swarms in Arachnophobia

In 1989 the first brand new KODAK scanner literally fell off the truck!

Commercial work has got its digital start with projects like Hummingbird, character animation of M&M Mars aliens , Heinz Ants. Morphing played a big part in Meryll Lynch Bear to Bull, Diet Pepsi football ³puddle², and Toyota Lips. In 1999, Cary Philips was awarded an Academy Technical Achievement Award for the design and development of the ³Caricature² Animation System. Continues to be the undisputed world leader in feature film visual effects with 14 Academy Awards and 12 additional Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards.

Information International Inc. (III or Triple-I)
The company was originally founded to create image processing equipment and digital image scanners. Triple-I developed one of the first and best digital film printer and scanner systems, and began developing the "tranew" software that ran on the legendary and unique Foonley F1 computer.

The Foonly F1 Computer:
³The F1 was originally built by Triple-I in hopes of getting a large contract with the Government for an Optical Character Recognition system. Its design became the DEC KL- 10, but was built on five wire-wrap pages, that were machine wrapped. This meant that it was a one-of-a-kind system, a prototype that never went anywhere. It required a DEC KA-10 (5 tons of stuff that barely could do 1 MIP!), which ran a hacked up version of the TOPS10 operating system, just to boot it. When it was up, it probably ran at something like 6 MIPS. The Disk systems were old DEC washing-machine style drives that barely held 50Mb, and they crashed at least every month! TRANEW rendering software was written by Gary Demos, Bill Dungan, Rich Schroeppel, Jim Blinn, and a host of others while Triple-I had the machine. Triple-I had married the F1 to a modified PFR-80 film recorder, one of the first in the motion picture industry. Omnibus bought the F1 system because it had produced the majority of the CGI in the film "TRON", and it seemed like a good way to jump-start feature film production. We did scenes from "Explorers", and "Flight of the Navigator" on it, but it was painful.² ­David Sieg

When Triple-I did not get the government contract, management (Al Fenaughty and Terry Taugner) brought Whitney and Demos over from Evans & Sutherland to form a ³movie group² in an attempt to cut their losses by using all that equipment for something else. John Whitney Jr. had been initially introduced to Triple-I because his father (John Sr.) knew Triple-I¹s founder Ed Fredkin. The Motion Picture Project or Entertainment Technology Group was formed at Triple-I in 1975 by Gary Demos, John Whitney Jr., Tom McMahon, Karol Brandt and Art Durinski, later joined by Craig Reynolds and many others. The first project Whitney Jr. and Demos were charged with was a series of tests for the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The concept was for little glowing cubes to fly around during the start of the film¹s finally. The film¹s DP Vilmos Zigmund shot some plates with a crane, including some small spheres whose position would be input to a 3D tracking program to extrapolate the matchmove by which to render the 3D elements ³into² the scene. (Malcom McMillan, a UCLA mathematician and key Triple-I programmer wrote this code) Most of 1976 was spent producing broadcast logo packages for foreign markets, as the domestic networks were not ready to commit to the new idea of CG ³flying logos². NBC in particular was one early client Triple-I approached with the idea, only to be rejected in favor of a traditional spinning practical model. SOFTWARE Both Frank Crow and Jim Blinn worked here briefly in 1977 developing algorithms later published in their thesis work. The Actor/Scriptor Animation System (ASAS) was developed by Craig Reynolds, Art Durinski and others; and the modeling tools were written by Larry Malone(Nichiman) using tools such as the Tektronix 4014 storage tube display terminal running Tekshow. LUCASFILM TESTS Other 3D CG tests were done for Star Wars, The Black Hole, and The Empire Strikes Back, but did not end up in the finished films. One particular test for LucasFilm involved Art Durinski building a beautiful 60k poly count X- Wing fighter. Rendered at 4k by 6k resolution, Lucas was only impressed after the ever-amazing Mal MacMillan wrote some additional code to ³dirty² it up from it¹s original pristine CG condition. It was eventually shown on the cover of ³Computer Magazine² in 1979. A lower poly count version was created for an animation test Gary Demos did of a five ship formation, complete with anti-aliasing and motion-blur. Unfortunately the seven thousand dollar per minute production cost required by Lucas was much too low for Triple-I to consider real production. Also in 1978 scanning and filmout tests were performed with Richard Edlund at LucasFilm, but the nature of the CRT technology and 5247 film stocks did not yield great results. [IMAGES OF X_WING FROM ART] 1980 saw the production of seven minutes of digital imagery for Looker; another Michael Chrichton film written after the author¹s visits to Triple-I during Westword and FutureWorld productions. Full body 3D scans where made of an actress from software developed once again my Malcom McMillan. The film was about a company that created computer generated actresses from full body scansŠdéjà vu? About this time it was becoming clear to both John Whitney Jr. and Gary Demos that Triple-I was not going to allow the expansion or spin off of the Motion Picture Group as they had originally hoped. John and Gary were instrumental in the pitching and pre-production of the next big CGI film, Tron, but left in April of 1981 before its production to form their own company: Digital Productions. TRON Triple-I created the Sark¹s Carrier, solor sailor and the MCP scenes for the end of the film. (See the Milestones chapter for more details.) Some key people on the work included Art Durinski, Larry Malone, Craig Reynolds, Bill Dungan and Jeremy Swartz. After completing Tron and a 3D (steroscopic) project for Kodak/Epcot called ³Magic Journeys², Triple-I ceased it¹s computer graphics business. Some employees joined Digital Production while others joined the new Symbolics Graphics Division.

Japan Computer Graphics Lab (JCGL)
In 1978, Mits Kaneko of MK Company obtained from MGM Studios the animation rights to Marjorie Keenan Rollings' Pulitzer awarded "The Yearling". Mits Kaneko decided to use computer animation on the 52 episodes of 30 minute television series because of rapidly rising cost of animation artists and film recording process. After two year's development and artist training, in April of 1980, JCGL was established with Mits Kaneko, Toho Company(a movie distribution company), Kodansha(a book publishing company), Toppan(a printing company) and Telework (a television production company). JCGL started production in June 1980 with 38 artists, 4 programmers and 3 hardware maintenance persons. JCGL's system for television animation production consisted of a huge custom designed optical printer to print extra frames of the same image for reducing rendering time, 2 Dicomed 48-S film recorders, 2 Vax 780 super mini computers , 4 PDP 44s, 8 PDP 11s for ink and paint stations, two DeAnza scanners for scanning animation papers, 18 Genisco frame buffers for image buffering and one PS 300 for vector drawing. The software "MK-1" was based upon NYIT's Tween and Tweep software for vector animation generation and scanned image inking and coloring capabilities with help of Tokyo Institute of Technology Image Lab lead by Prof.Takeshi Agui. The production of "The Yearling", however, failed with only one completed episode, which was actually No.2. of the series. Because of various creative challenges, the production schedule became almost double of what had been estimated. This episode No. 2 was broadcast in April 1982 and became world's first television animated program completely processed with a computer. The rest of the 51 episode production was switched to the conventional hand drawn, hand painted method. Mits Kaneko decided to move to 3D computer graphics production for commercial films and special effects on feature films. Jim Kristoff of Cranston Csuri Production (CCP) helped integrate 3D production software with the existing hardware, and the transition went well. The JCGL went on to win prizes including Nicograph, NCGA and INA gran- prixs. JCGL lead Japan's CG production for 7 years but came to its dissolution in 1987 when its VAX based system could not compete any longer with cheaper more modern systems.

Kleiser Walczak Construction Company (KWCC)
(1987 to present)
One of the first Wavefront based production companies, KWCC was founded in 1987 by Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak. Jeff Kleiser went to Colgate University as a CG major using VISIONS, an early fortran code from Syracuse. He made several experimental films and a few commercials by outputting to a DEC Graphics display terminal and shooting 35mm film off the screen. He then moved from Dolphin Productions (1976-77) as a Scanimate operator, Digital Effects (1978-1986) as Animation Director and President, then to Omnibus as Director of the Motion Picture Special Effects Division in LA. Diana Walczak was a sculptor and CG enthusiast from Boston University who met Jeff while at SIGGRAPH 1985, and joined him at Omnibus for a Marvel Comics character test in 1986. Diana¹s sculptures would be digitized into the computer a section at a time in order to have separate animatable pieces. Jeff (still working for Omnibus) was in Canada scouting locations for MILLENIUM when Digital/Omnibus/Abel (DOA) went down. He and Diana formed KWCC to take a one week job that would pay for their down payment on a new house in Hollywood. (What better reason to start company?) [QUOTE] ³Diana and I formed KWCC to build databases using her sculptures and a 3D digitizer by Polhemus. Soon we were approached by Viewpoint who wanted to market our data along with theirs, and we were more interested in developing Synthespians than database service market.² -Jeff Kleiser Their first Synthespian, created for SIGGRAPH/88, was ³Sextone for President². The 30 second piece demonstrated facial animation based on interpolating Diana¹s digitized sculptures with software written by Larry Weinberg. The TALK program could mix any percentage of any facial shape at any frame, even with arbitrary polygon ordering. This technique of phoneme interpolation is today a standard way of producing 3D facial animation. The narration made heavy use of irony as the character lobbied for SAG (Synthetic Actors Guild) rights. In 1989, Hewlett Packard supported KWCC¹s next character Dozo in the ambitious ³Don't Touch Me². The 3 minute animation utilized early optical motion capture from Motion Analysis. Frank Vitz joined the team to wrangle the always late and always buggy motion capture data. After more than five months, only about 20% of the motion capture data was delivered, forcing KWCC to make very creative use of piecing together and repeating many short fragments of motion. The rendering was done all over the country, anywhere there was Wavefront rendering code. All the final imagery was output to big 9-track data discs and stacked 6 feet high, output to film and delivered to NY airport, picked up by an HP employee and handed into the SIGGRAPH office one minute before the midnight deadline for the Electronic Theatre submissions.

In 1992 KWCC based itself in Lenox Massachusetts to provide the 3D CG animation for Douglas Trumbull¹s LUXOR trilogy of ridefilms. Frank Vitz again wrote custom code for one of the films to transform the flat CG into a curved torus-like screen. Two important television series were also created in conjunction with Santa Barbara Studios: ³Astronomers² with 12 minutes of cosmic simulation for PBS and ³500 Nations², where they built entire Native American cities. Feature film work has included StarGate, Clear and Present Danger, and Judge Dredd which featured some of the earliest realistic digital stunt doubles in a feature film. KWCC also recently created various creatures for Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and effects for Carrie II. They have just delivered 3 years of extensive work on the ³Spiderman² Š(details) Employees and collaborators have included Ed Kramer, Eileen O¹Neil, Jeff Williams, Frank Vitz, Derry & Patsy Frost, Randy Bauer. Currently KWCC has offices in New York, LA, and the Mass. MOCA center in Williamstown Massachsetts 413-664-7441

Kroyer Films
Bill Kroyer was a traditional animator at Disney from 1977 to 1979, later returning to Disney as an Animation Director on Tron in 1981. He later worked at Digital Productions, animating on the ³Hard Woman² video and created the realistic CG owl for the opening credits of the feature film Labyrinth. Kroyer Films was founded by Bill and Sue Kroyer in 1986, just before DOA went out of business. The company specialized in the use of 3D computer graphics, plotted out on paper as hidden surface line art to be colored and used along with traditionally created cel animation. Output was on an HP plotter, hooked up to an SGI 3130. (A machine with only 4 megs of ram that cost $42,000 US!) The unique hybrid 3D/cel technique was used for the first time with futuristic motorcycles in the short-lived TV series UltraCross. (The show was canceled when the toy deal fell through.) With the method proven, and the time to spare, Kroyer and his team next produced the short film Technological Threat in 1988. The film realized the conflict and resolution of a traditionally animated character with that of a computer generated one. Great story telling, design and execution added up for an Academy Award-nomination for the film that year. [IMAGE OF TECH THREAT?] Next up was the full length animated feature film FernGully: The Last Rainforest, completed on February 10th, 1990. Besides being a very enjoyable film for both kids and adults, the project was notable for several reasons. Backed by the Australian team that had made ³Crocodile Dundee², the entire production was accomplished in just two years from storyboards to premier. Kroyer ramped up from 15 to 200 people and in addition created 40,000 computer plotted cel frames to augment the bulk of the traditional animation. [FACTOID] One Ferngully scene in fact was done with digital-in-and-paint technology at Sidly-Rite(sp?) in Hollywood. The ³singing bat inside a tree² scene was a feature film first to use this technique. (Disney¹s ³Rescuers Down Under² would come out the same year.) As successful as Ferngully was, Hollywood studios were not ready to go up against Disney and commit to an animated feature film. Kroyer then found a unique niche in creating elaborately animated title sequences for such films as Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Troop Beverly Hills, and National Lampoon¹s Christmas Vacation. Finally in 1994, studios began jumping on the feature animation bandwagon, but Kroyer by now had downsized considerably. Bill and Sue both decided to shut down their company and join the fledgling Feature Animation department at Warner Brothers for ³Quest For Camelot². While that partnership would not last because of creative differences, the Kroyers were able to freelance and develop their own film project. Bill is presently on the staff of Rhythm & Hues as a Director, having come on board in 1998.

Lamb & Company
(1980 to present)
Founders/principles: Larry Lamb Major projects: "The Incredible Crash Dummies" (Fox) Originally used software purchased from Cranston/Csuri Productions. First Wavefront licence?, First Discrete Logic Flame licence? Also includes a sister company, Lambsoft Inc., for commercial software production tools. MORE INFO

(1982 To present)
Founded in 1982 as Toyo Links, and known since 1987 as simply Links, an Imagica Company. A short film called ³Bio- Sensor² (created in 1984) was notable for it¹s use of innovative story telling. Art Durinski with his wife and Producing partner Mitchinko joined the company from Omnibus in 1986, staying for about a year and a half. Much of the work Links did was for Sony Corporation, including their international logo that served as inspiration for many later large companies. (Art and Mitchinko would leave in 1988 to form their own consulting firm, the ³Durinski Design Group² in LA where they continue to work today.) The Links 1 computer animation system was developed here by Koichi Omura.

MAGI (Mathematics Application Group, Inc.)
(1966 to 1987)
Founded by three fellow scientists: Phil Mittelman (RPI), Leon Malin and ??? ????? in 1966 as a spin off of United Nuclear Corporation. The original purpose of the companies was to carry out nuclear radiation penetration studies, in order to calculate shielding requirements and other such top secret government things. (The name MAGI was also a joking reference to the fact that it was founded by "three wise men".) HOW THE LARGEST ³JUNK MAIL² COMPANY IN WESTCHESTER CREATED TRON! In it¹s early days, MAGI¹s largest business was creating ³junk mail² databases for direct mail and marketing uses. Three other divisions included: A CAD/CAM group which was very busy in manufacturing and defense contracts, Computer Slides Corp., which handled the presentation business projects; and the smallest of them all: Synthavision

[FIRST RAYTRACING] In fact, the very first raytraced image was produced in 1963, output on special test equipment (similar to an oscilloscope) developed at the University of Maryland. An ³egg in a box² whose complex hidden surface problems were easily handled by the new raytracing technique.

Begun in 1972 by Robert Goldstein and Bo Gehring, SynthaVision was the software division of MAGI that was marketed commercially for a short time under the company name of Computer Visuals Inc. The original software (Fortran2 and Fortran4 running on an IBM 360/65) used by the MAGI scientists for tracing particle radiation needed to be only slightly modified to trace light rays instead and make Š ta da!: computer graphics. (Well maybe not quite that easily.) For another idea of the current technology, a box of tab cards (fully a cubic foot worth) were necessary for only a few seconds of simple animation. The software techniques were unique in their use of solid modeling techniques. Unlike all other systems, Synthavision used not polygons or patches but "combinatorial geometry" (boolean union, difference and intersection) of mathematically defined solid shapes such as cubes, cones and spheres. For example, a simple flying saucer would be modeled as the intersection of two perfect spheres, and a sphere would never suffer from low resolution straight edged profiles because it is defined mathematically perfect. The raytracing technique, originally developed by Bob Goldstein in the late 1960s, evaluated these boolean combinations once per ray. (the key paper was published in "Simulation" in 1968, and is referenced in Turner Whitteds 1981 SIGGRAPH paper which introduced raytracing to a much broader audience). The core math and physics developers at this stage included Herb Steinberg and Dr. Eugene Troubetskoy while Marty Cohen and Larry Elin (a non-scientist and Phil Mittleman¹s son-in-law too) served in Executive Producer type roles. MAGI showed some of their military simulation work a SIGGRAPH conferences in the late 70s, including a diving submarine, tanks, a mines shaftŠ CG UFOs for CE3K!
In 1975/76 Bo Gehring and others traveled to Hollywood to produce CG tests for Steven Speilberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A film recorder was built by Carl Machover, one of the earliest of it¹s kind, it used a 9² CRT to expose the imagery onto 35mm film at 4000x2500 lines of resolution. Doug Trumbull also arranged to use a facility in Minniapolis to output to 65mm film. The intent was to realize the spaceships in the end landing sequence entirely with CG. In the end, Trumbull favored the traditional approach, and the CG tests were no longer pursued.

[Fying Logo Factiod!] The first flying logo CGI ad is attributed to MAGI - an ad for IBM in 1969.

Later, in 1981, Dr. Troubetskoy replaced this technique with more efficient techniques that did these boolean combinations over entire scan lines at once. This higher efficiency was necessary to produce the very high vistavision resolution images (2280x1200) needed for TRON. Dr. Troubetzkoy (A nuclear physicist) was the director of advanced projects at MAGI. He was previously a consulting physicist for the United Nuclear Corporation and a senior research associate in nuclear physics at Columbia University. MAGI was a pioneer in putting high resolution computer graphics directly out to film. It's CELCO film recorder (way ahead of its time) was the second ever made. (The first being used by the government for Landsat imagery.

[CELCO FACTOID] After a 1981 visit to MAGI, Benoit Mandelbrot got a CELCO for IBM, and used it to output all those fractal images for his classic book "The Fractal Geometry of Nature".

Carl Ludwig (Director of Engineering) had begun his involvement in computer animation while serving as a consultant for Celco, where he developed a special film recorder to output footage for the groundbreaking Disney film Tron.

Steven Listburger(sp?), the creator of Tron, had just finished the television film Animalimpics when he saw a CG demonstration by Larry Elin. MAGI created the memorable Light Cycles and Recognizer sequences in Tron. Nearly 15 minutes of finished computer graphics were created by a small core team of people including: Chris Wedge(animation), Nancy Campy(sp?) (production coordinator), Tom Bisogna (artist), Ken Perlin (software), and Tom Miller (night shift). Of MAGI¹s approximately 150 total employees Synthavision only ever totaled about a dozen people. Beautiful as the imagery was, Synthavision software did not render frames with antialiasing. The solution was to render at a higher resolution and then scale/filter down to a lower resolution to soften the edges. Even simple things like blurring were non-existant so if you wanted to do a blur, you would run your frames a second time through the CELCO film recorder with tissue paper over the CRT to fuzz the element you wanted to blur.

[MEMORIES!] ³Shortly after Ken Perlin was hired I was hired into the CAD/CAM division to help build an interactive modeler for Synthavision's CSG (ray-traced boolean ops on quadratic solids) It was to be used by the movie division and sold toe the mechanical engineering market. This was an ambitious task given that all of the rendering and animation programs were still written in 80 column punched card format, compiled and run as "batch jobs" on IBM mainfraims and later on 32bit mini-computers and animation pencil tests were output to film and looked at on a upright Movieola, there weren't any frame buffer or color displays.² -Michael Ferraro

To relate an interesting perspective on the mind set of the time, in New York for the premier of Tron were all the computer graphics people who contributed to the film. From MAGI, Triple-I, Abel and Digital Effects all sitting around a table at Sardies. The topic of conversation soon center on the fact that the ³entire CG business was sitting right here² and ³had anyone heard about some company trying to break in to the CG business in CaliforniaŠthey are going to call it Pacific Data Images or something like that..² ³and how do they expect to get into such an established business as ours? It¹ll never be successful.². Ah, but history would play out very differently as we all know too well!

As Tron finished up, the second wave of people came on board, hired largely by Ken Perlin. Josh Pines would play a key role in programming for film-scanning and recording, but also brought an important film/movie making sense to the otherwise technical group. Christine Chang was primarily an artist, Tom Miller graduated to the day shift and Mike Ferraro began a self imposed, if ³un-official², transition from the CAD/CAM division. The main New York office was busy pursuing commercial work, but Hollywood was calling!

[QUOTE] ³In the meantime Tom Bisogno and I created what became known as the "After Hours Movie Group" and produced a short film shown at the SIGGRAPH film show in the early eighties, It was titled "First Flight" and was the first uses of procedural lighting/atmosphere effects that MAGI later became known for. The "After Hours Movie Group" for the most part included Tom, myself and for a while Jodi Slater.² ­Michael Ferraro

In early 1984 MAGI opened an office in LA hoping to capitalize on the success of TRON to get more feature film work. Phil Mittelman recruited Richard Taylor (who supervised the effects for Tron while at Triple-I) as Director and Dan Fitzgerald as Executive Producer to head this office. Jeremy Shwartz, Larry Malone (both later at Symbolics) were also there. Jan Van Vliet (now President of Available Light) and his wife Cathy used Christine Chang¹s digital paint program for 2D animation. Their first (and only) project was for the Disney film Something Wicked This Way Comes in 1984. The ambitious goal was to use computer graphics in order to create a magical circus that would appear to set up all by itself. Unfortunately the images that worked so well in TRON did not cut so realistically with live action, and the project was dropped. Executive management had oversold the still primitive technology, and was unable to get any more film work. By 1985, MAGI/LA would close its doors.

-Where the Wild Things Are
John Lasseter (Then a traditional animator at Disney) got his first exposure to computer graphics by working as the official Disney-Magi liason for a joint 1983 post-TRON test for "Where the Wild Things Are². Based on the popular childrens book by Maurice Sendak, the (60sec?) short had a young boy in his pajamas running with his dog up a flight of stairs. The characters were traditional cell animation and the environment was all 3D CG. Disney footed the bill for production, while MAGI paid for the substantial R&D needed to create the hardware and software.

[A MAJOR MILESTONE] This amazing project was the first ever example of full feature film resolution CG digital compositing.

Ken Perlin supervised and wrote code for the project. (which also included the now well known Disney animator Glen Keane). Jan Carlee and Chris Wedge modeled the environment and animated the camera move. Christine Chang wrote the digital ³ink and paint² software that was used to color the Disney animators scanned in drawings complete with shadow and highlight elements. (A technique used much later to great effect at ILM in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.) Josh Pines built the scanner MORE INFO FROM JOSH HERE!. Gene Miller and Tom Bisogna in production? Soon after that, John used this test as his calling card to join Ed Catmull's graphics department at LucasFilm, which subsequently was spun off (in 1986) to become PIXAR. An interesting side story that happened about this time concerned another Disney animation project. The Brave Little Toaster was being story-boarded by Lasseter and Jo Ramf(sp?), but when Ron Miller (then head of Feature Animation) was ousted, so was the project. For those of you who know the film (and if you have kids you should!) all the characters were household appliances, including a lamp, a radio, and a vacuum cleanerŠall of whom would have been created in 3D CG by MAGI. However Tom Wilhite left Disney and formed Hyperion Animation in order to independently produce the film, and the MAGI work never was to be.


[Romantic Nerdlike Factoid]: Chris Wedge (or was it Jody Slater? )introduced John Lassiter to his future wife Nancy Taque(sp?).

The whole spirit at this time was of around the clock creative energy. Each person egging one another on to constantly push the barriers further beyond what was done the day before. The night crew would often leave up on the screen their most rewarding images in order for the day crew to see them. This would produce no end of awe struck reactions like ³how did they DO that?². Of course not to be outdone the day shift would repeat the process only to amaze the next night crew and cause the cycle to be repeated. The group of co- workers were referred to as the ³22 legged beast² for their tight lunch going groupings remanicent of the Warner Brothers cartoons with a single mass of characters atop animated legs. In 1983-84 at MAGI Ken Perlin developed his now famous ³Perlin Noise and Turbulence² techniques of creating solid and procedural textures that are now commonly used everywhere in the CG industry. (It earned him an Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 1997 too).


[The FLY] Sythavision's work can be seen in David Cronenberg's, The Fly, where the main character, Seth Brundel plays a visual sequence on his computer that explains that his DNA has been mixed with a housefly. The work is not credited in the film.

The Synthavision division was sold off in 1984 to a holding company in Toronto Canada run by Bob Robbins and Leo Grey. The company¹s new president was David Boyd Brown(Blue Sky). The first main project for Synthavision after the by-out was a laser video disk arcade game called Robot Rebellion which required the player to pilot a small LV1 robot to the core of a mining asteroid to overcome a mine full of crazed robots and booby traps and regain control of the colony by punching in a color code they learned along the way. Hazards included CG fire created with KPL(Ken Perlin Language) texture code.
The finished project had was shopped around to gaming companies like Bally and Atari, but unfortunately occurred as the downturn in arcade gaming began. Like many other computer graphic production companies of the 1980's, Sythavision collapsed under the heavy overhead costs and enormous capital debt of the purchase of the technology.
³There is also a fun story of the last MAGI/Synthavision job that was modeld and rendered by a roving band of the remaining production crew (includeing Tom Barham (director), Dick Walsh (who went to PDI) Carl, and myself on the computer network at Carnegie Mellon (where I was teaching at the time) using a Raster Tech frame buffer that we carried all over campus.² ­Michael Ferraro

[SCRUBBING BUBBLES CURSE?] ³The very last project that Sythavision did was a commercial featuring DOW Chemical's Scrubbing Bubbles in their first CG incarnation. These, I'm told, are the same characters that Cranston/Csuri where working on when they folded later. We all watched PDI with interest when they took on Scrubbing Bubbles. Fortunately they survived the curse.² ­Paul Griffin

Synthavision¹s parent company went out of business in the fall of 1986. The CAD/CAM division of Magi had been sold to Lockheed Aerospace in 1982/83, while MAGI Computer Slides Corp. was purchased in 1986 from MAGI for $4million and renamed MAGICorp.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Phil Mittelman formed the UCLA Lab for Technology and the Arts; Blue Sky Productions was then founded by David Brown (President), Jan Carlée (Animation Director), Dr. Eugene Troubetzkoy, Mike Ferraro (, Carl Ludwig (Director of engineering), and Chris Wedge. Josh Pines, Ken Perlin, Jan Carlee and Christine Chang began the CG group at R/Greenberg associates. Ken Perlin went on to NYU where he remains today. Josh Pines now heads the digital scanning department at ILM, Christine eventually went to Don Bluth, Jan Carlee eventually joined Blue Sky and Mike Ferraro eventually left Blue Sky to form his own production company. Tom Miller now is Head of CG at Fox Animation Studios, Larry Elin went to ???.

(Hollywood and Paris)

Mental Images
(1985? to present)
Used Wavefront software as well as proprietary code that eventually became Mental Ray. Work for BMW and German television programming such as ARD and Bremen Television. Employees included John Berton (86-88) and Stefen Fangmeyer (88-90) both currently Visual Effects Supervisors at ILM.

(1987 To present)
Ron Saks (formerly of Abel¹s) was hired by Cranston Csuri (CCI) in anticipation of opening an LA office. Richard ³Dr.² Baily was hired in LA first, followed by Paul Sidlo and a few more people. All the new hires went out to Ohio in the summer of 1986 to learn the custom CCI code. A bunch of people soon went back to LA to an office in the back of Abel¹s old building. These included Tim McGovern (Abel), Jon Townley, Steve Martino, Mark Steeves, Richard ³Dr.² Baily, Neil Eskuri(Disney) and Al Dinoble(Cinesite), Larry Elin (Magi/Abel) and Steve Klevatt. When CCI folded, Ron Saks remained in Ohio and took up a teaching job there. Jim Kristoff, Dobbie Schiff (Jim and Dobbie are married), several of their family members, and Mits Kaneko all contributed the original funding to then start MetroLight.

[ FACTOID] Before MetroLight was chosen as the official name, it was originally called North Light Studios (until it was found that this name was already taken)

Other key people who soon joined them included Con Pederson (Abel), Tom Hutchinson(ILM), Jim Hillen(Disney Feature Animation), John McLaughlin (SonyPictures ImageWorks), Gary Jackemuk, Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri(ILM), Jeff Doud (Click 3X), Yung-Chen Sung, Rebecca Marie (Hammerhead), Scott Bendis (Interplay), Billy Kent, Patrice Dinhut, Kelley Ray (Sony), Mark Lasoff (Station X), Sean Schur (ILM). Initially new SGI 3130 computers were purchased for the new company, running software from a relatively new company called Wavefront. At this same time Robert Abel and Associates had just gone out of business with that companies landlord acquiring much of the production equipment upon its closing. MetroLight then purchased this gear for itself (which included Evans & Sutherland computers, Mitchel cameras, motion control equipment, and other hardware. MetroLight¹s first job was a intro for National Geographic, Directed by Jeff Doud. The rendering was done at 1k at 1:1.33 aspect ratio for both film and television markets. Jeff was soon after hired to work at MetroLight as an Art Director, and is now at Click3x in Atlanta. For their first attempt at feature film work, MetroLight shared a Special Achievement Visual Effects Academy Award for 1989's Total Recall. The project required animating 3D CG "skeletons" in a life size walk-through X-ray machine. Initially an early optical motion capture system from Motion Analysis was tested on Arnold (complete with sticking ping- pong balls all over him!). Eventually though the problems with the system necessitated a backup plan. The rear camera used behind the X-ray in the motion capture set up was used to capture footage that was rotoscoped for the key frames used in the final character animation. Paul Verhoven, then new to CG technology was very accommodating to the MetroLight crew, although he vetoed the idea of putting muscles on the X-ray skeletons. The hope was that this would help to differentiate Arnolds large physique from the other ³normal² sized human skeletons, but it was not to be.

[Credit fatoid] Although MetroLight was only acknowledged by company name in the films credits, Verhoven rewarded the company with allotments for additional personal credits in the video release.

In May of 1988 MetroLight decided that it wanted a more robust rendering software solution than was provided by Wavefront at the time. Yung-Chen began work on the in-house code only to loose all his data four months later in a series of software backup failures. More for the better the second time around, the code (finished in spring of Œ89) was fast, and enough to carry them until about 1991/92 when they began using Renderman. At this same time Alias was selling there product modularly and MetroLight decided on their superior modeling package rather than write their own code for this task. Alias animation eventually replaced Wavefront Preview, with Composer also being recently replaced with Chalice for compositing. Maya is also being introduced as the all around tool of choice in recent months. (Although Con Pederson was still using Abel software up until very recently!) From the very beginning, MetroLight had two separate divisions, each ultimately with about 65 employees. The main 3D production division, and MetroCel the 2D ink and paint division. Mits Kaneko actually directed the overall development of the 2D software, Mark Steeves ran the division and Charles Scalfani was the lead programmer. The ³annie² software was ready for production work by about 1991 and was used in such television shows as Ren & Stimpy.

[Ren & Stimpy Factoid] A little known fact is that MetroLight also created 3D effects for several Ren & Stimpy episodes. In one scene, George Liquor sees Ren through a pet store window which was rendered in 3D with reflections and refractions. Another 3D effects included a full blown snowstorm effect.

In 1994 the MetroCel software ³annie² was sold to the interactive company ³7th Level², who were going public with the backing of a certain investment banker names Michael Milken. Over the years MetroLight has also contributed to a number of large format films, including the Korean ³Star Quest² (with DreamQuest providing practical effects) and an Imax Intel show. Two such large format projects are currently in production; one for a summer 1999 release in Universal¹s new Florida theme park, and another in Orlando for Sigfreid and Roy, produced by L Squared. A large part of Jim Kristoff and MetroLight¹s vision for the future of their company is character animation. To this end, they are just finishing work on the sequel to DragonHeart, due for a fall 1999 direct-to-video release.

The Moving Picture Company (MPC)
(198? To present)
³Then (and arguably still) the UK's leading video post house, MPC had a reputation as technology junkies. They had recently built a motion control rig under the direction Andrew Berend, a London Film School graduate. The computer that controlled the rig was built by Interactive Motion Control (IMC) (one of the partners at IMC was Bud Elam, who later won an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for motion control technology ­ (his co-winner was Ray Feeney, who started RFX) In 1981 they had also just installed a computer animation system, which consisted of a Hewlett Packard desktop machine, programmed in Basic, which drove a plotter. The plotter had no pens - instead, it had a fibre-optic light source where the pen went - this was pointed at the camera film plane. The lens would open, a colored gel would rotate in front of the lens, and the plotter would draw a wire-frame layer directly onto the film emulsion. Then the color would change, and more lines would be drawn. Of course, this all took place in a black box. This multi-layered approach could take minutes to do a single frame. There was no way of knowing what you had until you unloaded it, took it to the labs, waited overnight, went back to the labs, brought it back, laced it up and viewed it on the Movieola.

³The quality of the light was uneven, and the guy who helped build it spent a lot of time trying to control light intensity down fibre-optic cable. He was an Australian named was Mike Boudry, the later founder of CFC.² Contributed by Craig Zerouni

National Center For Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
(1985 to present)
Founded in 1985 by Nancy St,John & Craig Upston (Co- Managers). Located at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Pioneering Scientific Visualization software projects that created tools that scientists themselves could use. Stefen Fangmeier (ILM) was a TD from 19?? To ??.

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)
In 1974 Dr. Alexander Schure, a wealthy entrepreneur, began to assemble the Computer Graphics Laboratory (CGL) at the New York Institute of Technology. His vision was to create a feature length animated film, with the aid of the days most sophisticated computer graphics techniques. NYIT itself was founded by Dr. Schure, had grounds encompassing numerous estates situated in the beautiful wooded hillsides of Old Westbury New York. Some of these estates were owned by members of the Rockafeller family, who also happened to have a seat on the board of Evans & Sutherland. Because of the close association of E&S with the University of Utah, Dave Evans recommended to Alex to seek out Edwin Catmull to head the new CGL. Ed Catmull had just finished his Ph.D. at Utah and taken a job at a CAD/CAM company called Applicon. It was not a hard sell to get Ed to leave Applicon for NYIT however, so he and fellow Utah graduate Malcolm Blanchard packed their bags for New York. Alvy Ray Smith and David DiFrancesco (both fresh from Xerox PARC) joined the team a few months later in what was called the ³Gerry Mansion². Alvy and David had heard of Dr. Schure¹s plans from Martin Newell at Utah (whom Alex had just hired briefly as a consultant). Dr. Schure had recently come through Utah and literally ordered ³one of everything² to jump start his NYIT project. Some of this equipment included a DEC PDP-11, a new E&S LDS-1 and the first random access frame buffer also from E&S. Later, the CGL group would also receive the very first commercial VAX. [SIDEBAR] VAX ALMOST SMASHED! In fact, the VAX almost never made it inside the building, if not for Alvy Ray Smith¹s quick actions. It seems that when the computer was just lowered off the back of the delivery truck, another truck parked behind and uphill had it¹s brakes slip, which started it rolling towards the brand new machine. Alvy quickly jumped in the driver-less truck and stopped it just before it could smash the VAX back into the very truck it was just unloaded from. The CGL quickly attracted other technology experts and artists, including Christy Barton(from E&S), Tom Duff, Lance Williams, Fred Parke, Garland Stern, Ralph Guggenheim, Ed Emshwiller, and many others. Throughout the 1970s, the people of the CGL thrived in a pioneering spirit, creating milestones in many areas of graphic software. Many of the ³firsts² that happened at NYIT were based on the development of the first RGB full color (24bit) raster graphics. A few of the more notable ³firsts²: €First RGB anything (because they had the first RGB framebuffers in the world). €First RGB paint program (Paint by Alvy Ray Smith). €First soft-edged fill (Alvy Ray again). €First computer-controlled video editing. First TV commercial with raster graphics (Lance, I think, or maybe it was Ephraim Cohen). €First pixel dissolve. €First networked computer system (Christy rolled our own for us). €The alpha channel is invented by Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith. €First hidden surface algorithm within a pixel (Ed). €Lance Williams invented mipmapping (texture mapping is still done this way today). €Garland Stern implemented the first scan and paint system (this is how the Disney/Pixar CAPS system now makes 2D animation - different system but same idea). The atmosphere at the CGL was also very open, with many invited tours coming through the lab all year-round. Other universities like Cornell, and companies such as Quantel were among those to visit and take notes about what was being developed. The personnel structure was virtually non- existent, with never any heavy handed management from Dr. Catmull. People did what they were best at and helped each other out whenever needed. [Strangest Job Title ever!] Alvy Ray Smith would later accidently come across an organization chart for the lab put together by Dr. Shure. Ed Catmull was running the lab of course but there where people listed above and below him that no one had even heard of. Alvy was particularly amused to find that his official title was ³Information Quanta². A term very much in keeping with Dr. Shure¹s somewht unique, and non-standard form of communicating. Ed Catmull¹s Tween, Alvy Ray Smith¹s Paint program, and the 2D animation program SoftCel, all were in keeping with the original charter of the CGL, which was 2D CG. There were also many breakthroughs in image techniques involving fractals, morphing, image compositing, and Mip-Map texture mapping and many others. Key to this pioneering effort was the seemingly unlimited financing evidenced by Alex Schure. One such example took place when Alvy Ray Smith spoke with Alex about how good it might be to have not just the one, but three frame buffers. This way, Alvy explained, the three 8bit buffers could be combined to create the first RGB color frame buffer ever! Sometime later Alex not only delivered the two additional frame buffers, but an additional 3, which gave the CGL team a grand total of 6. (³Enough for two of those RGB things² said Alex.) At $60,000 each (plus the $80,000 for the first) what this meant in today¹s dollars was that on a simple request, Alex had just delivered about $2million worth of equipment. More Utah people joined the CGL, including Garland Stern who would write the vector animation system BBOP. David DiFrancesco would also begin what would be turn out to be a long association with film recording at this time. Jim Blinn even worked at the CGL as a summer intern in 1976. [SIDEBAR] TUBY THE TUBA! At this same time as the CGL was up and running, Alex had about 100 traditional animators working on a film called ³Tuby The Tuba². Unfortunately, after two years when the film finally screened, everyone¹s worst fears were realizedŠit was worse than awful. Several different department also existed at NYIT by now, in different neighboring mansions; an audio group, a video/post production lab, and a computer science department as well. One project that was successfully completed, was a half hour video (2² with a single frame recorder) called ³Measure for Measure², which combined conventional cel animation with TWEEN imagery. In 1979 when Ed Catmull left to start the Computer Graphics Division at Lucasfilm, many wanted to come with him. In fact, Alvy, Tom Duff, and David DiFrancesco all left and went elsewhere while waiting to join Ed in California when the time was right. Ralph had promised to stay at NYIT a full year, and he honored that commitment, even turning down an offer from Alex Schure to head the CGL group so that he would be free to leave one that year was up. A New York City commercial office was also established to market and sell the technology developed in Old Westbury. Known as CGL Inc. CGL Inc. also produced numerous commercial graphics jobs for the broadcast market. The WORKS (The remaining historical text for NTIT/CGL was contributed by Paul Heckbert) Shortly after Catmull left NYIT, Alex's son, Louis Schure, became lab director. At about the same time, the NYIT lab began preparing to make the first three-dimensional computer animated movie, to be called "The Works". Its science fiction screenplay was written by Lance Williams. A number of people were hired to work on the project. The principal robot designers and modelers were Lance, Bill Maher, Dick Lundin (designer of the famous robot ant), Ned Greene, and Carter Burwell. Some of the animators were Rebecca Allen and Amber Denker. [THE WORKS!] A great deal of effort at NYIT went into the development of the film "The Works", which was written by Lance Williams and worked on from about 1979 to 1986. For many reasons, including a lack of film-making expertise, it was never completed. Sequences from the work in progress still stand as some of the most astounding animated imagery of the time. Software development during the early 80's was guided by Lance Williams, Paul Heckbert, Fred Parke, and Pat Hanrahan. A number of excellent graphics software developers did pioneering work there during those years: Jim Blinn and Tom Duff (MAT: yacc-based modeling language), Jim Clark (E&S Picture system library from the 70's; Jim later went on to found Silicon Graphics and Netscape), Lance Williams (z-buffer and texture mapping techniques), Tom Duff (SOID: z-buffered quadric surface rendering with texture mapping, bump mapping), Garland Stern (BBOP: interactive keyframe animation system), Dick Lundin (dynamics simulation and robot modeling and animation tools), Ephraim Cohen (ZOOM: filtered image resampling and EPT: paint program), Thad Beier (SSOID: CSG on quadric surfaces), Mike Chou (SOID's environment mapping), Frank Crow, Andrew Glassner, and Tom Shermer (antialiased line drawing), Robert McDermott (geometric modeling tools), John Schlag (image processing software), Paul Heckbert (POLY: z-buffered polygon renderer with texture mapping), Paul Heckbert and Pat Hanrahan (beam tracing), Paul Heckbert (early splatting, a form of volume rendering), Lance Williams and Ned Greene (mesh modeling tools), Lance Williams, Fred Parke, and Paul Heckbert (face modeling and animation), John Lewis and Peter Oppenheimer (fractal modeling), Ned Greene and Paul Heckbert (z-buffer rendering for fisheye projection), Ned Greene (sky modeling from photographs), Jules Bloomenthal and Lance Williams (DEKINK: antialiasing, recording tools), Jules Bloomenthal (realistic tree modeling), Kevin Hunter (early marching cubes), Pat Hanrahan (EM: interactive modeling system), Pat Hanrahan (winged edge library), David Sturman (animation database and tools), Lance Williams and Paul Heckbert (Coons image warp), Tom Brigham (image morphing), Tracy Petersen, Mike Kowalski, and Carter Burwell (audio synthesis), and many other amazing graphics hackers and graphics hacks. The workhorse hardware during the early 80's was six DEC VAX 11/780's as main computers, about three E&S Picture System II's for animation preview, about eight E&S and Genisco frame buffers for 512x486x24-bit raster graphics, about six programmable Ikonas graphics processors, the largest with 12 megabytes of image memory (an ungodly amount in that day: 2048x2048x24-bits), viewed with rare thousand line color monitors, several IVC 2000 2" videotape recorders, and a Dicomed film recorder. Although The Works was never completed (the group was ahead of its time; it wasn't until 1995 that the first 3-D computer animated movie -- Toy Story -- came out), some major milestones of computer animation came out of the effort, including: The Works Trailer - hit of the SIGGRAPH '82 film show, 3DV, Inside a Quark, and segments for the 1984 Omnimax movie "The Magic Egg". The lab's animation demonstrated the first extensive use of texture mapping and environment mapping in animation, and some of the first 3-D character animation. Some pictures from the early 80's are available at After this peak, the party began to wind down in the mid and late 80's: Bloomenthal left for Xerox PARC in 1985, Heckbert left for PDI and Pixar in 1985, Hanrahan left for Wisconsin, DEC, and Pixar in 1985, and Williams left for Apple in 1986. The dispersal of its lab members helped spread NYIT's ideas to many other sites. [FACTOID] Many people regarded the NYIT Computer Graphics Lab of the late 70's and early 80's as the top computer graphics research and development group in the world.

Ohio State University

-Charles A. Csuri In 1963 Charles Csuri joined OSU as a Professor in the Department of Art. A former All-American football player and painter, he soon became interested in the computer as an aid in creating new forms of art and animation. By 1967, with the assistance of a fellow faculty member from the Department of Mathematics (and a mainframe computer) Csuri created several interpolated line drawing sequences, including one of a hummingbird in flight. Csuri produced over 14,000 frames, which exploded the bird, scattered it about, and reconstructed it. These frames were output to 16mm film, and the resulting film Hummingbird was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in 1968 for its permanent collection as representative of one of the first computer animated artworks.

-The CGRG Beginning with a National Science Foundation grant for $100,000 in 1969, The Computer Graphics Research Group (CGRG) began working with a PDP 11/45 minicomputer and Vector General Display. The CGRG was truly multi-disiplined, included faculty and graduate students from Art, Industrial Design, Photography and Cinema, Computer and Information Science, and Mathematics. Additional grants from the Air Force Office For Scientific Research and the Navy continued the center until 1990, working in that time on two dozen different research projects worth about eight million dollars in research support. The CGRG projects specialized in computer animation languages, geometric and terrain modeling, motion control, and realtime playback systems.

-Animation Systems Early animation language projects focused on a new concept of ³user friendly-ness² termed ³habitability² by Tom DeFanti. This was promoted as an interface to the real-time systems consisting of dials and joysticks.

GRASS (Graphics Symbiosis System) animation programming language by Tom DeFanti in 1972. ANIMA motion language by Manfred Knemeyer in 1973. ANIMA II was developed with contributions from Ron Hackathorn, Alan Myers, Richard Parent and Tim Van Hook. TWIXT was designed by Julian Gomez as a ³track-based keyframe animation system².

[MORPHING Factoid] Mark Gillenson (now at IBM) developed a technique of blending images of facial drawings, one of the earliest examples of the now familiar technology called morphing.

-Other important developments Procedural animation was also developed in the late 70s by Wayne Carlson, Bob Marshall and Rodger Wilson. Frank Crow arrived from the University of Texas and continued his work with shadows and antialiasing that were started at the University of Utah. He later went to Xerox PARC.

-Character Animation A great many individuals at Ohio created award winning character based short animations; including Tuber¹s Two Step by Chris (Blue Sky) Wedge and Snoot and Muttly by Susan Van Baerle and Doug Kingsbury.

-Cranston/Csuri Productions Inc. In 1981, Chuck Csuri approached investor Robert Kanuth of The Cranston Companies to form a production company based on the great array of custom software written at the CGRG. Mark Howard designed and built a frame buffer which was used extensively for realtime animation testing at the CGRG and Cranston/Csuri Productions until they went out of business in 1987.

-The ACCAD In 1987 Chuck Csuri and Tom Linehan (now President of Ringling School of Design) converted the Computer Graphics Research Group into The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Also in the late 1980s, Scott Dyer(Windlight Co-founder, now at Nelvana) and a group of ACCAD personnel connected with The new Ohio Supercomputer Center for the purpose of developing flexible software solutions in the burgeoning field of scientific visualization.

-Alumni works

For a more complete listing of CGRG, Cranston/Csuri and ACCAD alumni and their work, please visit these web sites:


Wayne Carlson has been Director of the ACCAD since 19?? Charles A. ³Chuck² Csuri is currently the Director and Professor, Emeritus of the Departments of Art, Art Education and Computer and Information Science at Ohio State University.

-footnote: Excerpted with permission from ³A Short History of ACCAD²: by Wayne Carlson.

Omnibus Computer Graphics Inc.
The Omnibus Group Inc. began as a Canadian group of companies in marketing and communication founded in London, Ontario in 1972. It expanded with affiliated and shareholding offices in Toronto (Omnibus Video Inc.), Los Angeles (Image West Limited & Downstream-Keyer Inc.), and Sydney Australia (The Picture Company). John C. Pennie joined in 1974 as President. Image West was developed by Omnibus beginning in 1975 located in Hollywood, CA. (see below for the Image West company entry for more details.) Omnibus Video Inc. began in 1981 and was headed by President Jack Porter (Who for 14 years was president of Sheridan College in Toronto.), located in the Yonge-Eglinton area of Toronto, Canada. The NYIT TWEEN system was acquired and used by animator Robert Marinac (Now a CG Supervisor at ILM), one of nine employees at the time.

[Robert¹s NYIT story picking up the machine?] TERRENCE: actually, they never picked up the machine, but I had to return the original RK05 disk pack to prove that we have wiped the software. No search was made for backups (duh) but by that time the s/w was pretty much unusable anyway.

Omnibus Computer Graphics Inc. began in early 1982 with W.Kelly Jarmain as Chairman and J.C.Pennie as President and CEO. In 1983 they installed a VAX 11/750 and produced the first CG commercial in Canada. In 1983 an IPO (which raised $4.2 million) made Omnibus the first publically traded CG company. The plan was to expand and operate three main facilities: Toronto, New York and Los Angeles. The original Toronto location was for computer operations and the Canadian broadcast and agency work. Its Production group was run by Dan Philips (now head of CG production at DreamWorks). The New York facility, for video broadcast and recording, was on 57th street West under a lease from Unitel Video Inc. The Los Angeles location was intended primarily for motion picture film work; all linked by satellite by the end of 1984. (The satellite link amounted to modems for many months, and finally a WAN that was painfully slow and unreliable.) As part of the initial expansion in mid 1984, several larger VAX 11/780 systems were installed at the Toronto facility. [FACTOID] Kevin Tureski relates his first day on the job at Omnibus in Toronto: ³I remember walking in past reception to where the animators worked. There was Eric Ladd hunched over a massive drafting table. He was digitizing, by hand, the x,y and z coordinates of a horse. Someone had drawn about 5 sectional slices of a horse on 4 foot by 3 foot graph paper, one slice per paper. Eric was calculating the x,y values from the grid and writing down the coordinates down on a piece of paper, later typing them in, manually creating several .ppt files. There was no digitizing tablet to be found anywhere. Later, on a tour of the edit suite, I saw Mike Johnson feeding paper tape containing the boot program through the ESS a still store capable of holding 30 seconds of video on it¹s RK05 disks.² Now majority owned by Santa Clara-based Ramtek, Omnibus/LA hired David Sieg from Image West as VP of R&D and a team of programmers from CalTech, working with Al Barr, Brian Von Herzen, and many others. In addition to developing their own software (called PRISMS), Omnibus obtained ³several exclusive software license agreements² with Robert Abel & Associates and Triple-I. (The deal with Abel was originally signed to last seven years, the Triple-I deal until the year 2001.) To start up the Omnibus/LA facility, they bought the F1 computer system and older film printers (called PFR's) from Triple-I (Triple-I had just shut down their CG group.) and started working out of the Triple-I offices in Culver City. Omnibus/LA soon moved to the Paramount Studios Lot in Hollywood, sharing facilities with Unitel Video. Art Durinski was hired as Creative Director and staffed the initial dozen employees, which included a number of student from UCLA where he had been teaching. Star Trek III The first feature film contract Omnibus worked on was for Paramount Pictures Star Trek III. Omnibus (one of three companies to contribute) created a number of video graphic displays seen on the bridge of the Enterprise and Klingon starships. About 30 to 40 computer generated video clips comprised almost an hours worth of imagery. Artists included Technical Director Dan Krech and animator Dan Philips. Jeff Kleiser came on board the LA office as Director of the Motion Picture Special Effects division and directed animation for Flight of the Navigator and the original Captain Power pilot for Landmark. [THE FIRST D.O.A. DOMINO TIPS] The Captain Power project was meant to save Digital Productions from bankruptcy, but when Jeff brought the project to Omnibus instead, DP was forced to sell out. The rest, as they say, is history. Flight of the Navigator showcased the first feature film use of 3D morphing and animated texture mapping. (Environmental film footage was transferred to video, digitized and used to simulate the chrome surface of the spaceship.) Explorers would require a dream sequence illustrating a fly-over of a city represented by a 3D CG circuit board. Without the capability to render different colored vector graphics, Art Durinski designed the effect to be output in multiple black and white layers, each of which was filmed out and optically colored ad composited at Industrial Light and Magic. (ILM was the primary traditional effects house on the movie.) Bob Hoffman coded and animated on both Navigator and Explorers. DOA In June of 1986, Omnibus bought Digital Productions, having been approached by their majority owner Control Data who was desperate to get out from under the increasing debt of DP. In September of that same year Omnibus also bought Robert Abel and Associates for $7.3 million. Abel¹s likewise was on the verge of bankruptcy, and was led to believe Omnibus was a legitimate bid from a publicly held and stable company. The management at Omnibus saw the purchases as a way to consolidate all the best of everything, (and all their customers) into a single monolithic parent company. Unfortunately nothing was as it appeared, as everyone was soon to find out. Gary Demos and John Whitney Jr. had no choice but to leave Digital Production when their contract agreement with Control Data was violated by the sale to Omnibus. They both left to form Whitney/Demos. Art Durinski was privy to the financial state of the recent deals early on and decided to leave the company and go to Toyo/Links in Japan.

[SIDEBAR QUOTE] ³The Omnibus management knew nothing about computer animation, but kept muttering about "Economies of Scale". The reality was: three separate sales forces, three separate production crews, three separate facilities, philosophies, software systems and hardware systems, none of which were likely to ever work together. What is ironic is that the next Star Trek movie was about to go into production, and had tons of CGI work in it. We had good contacts with the right people, and we did some amazing tests (I have videotape!) of the Enterprise that blew the modelmakers away. But they were too scared Omnibus would go under to give us the contract that would have saved us.² ­David Sieg

Diana Walczak began working on human figure tests for Marvel Comics, and Jeff Kleiser was in Vancouver Canada scouting locations for the film Millennium when the end came. In early 1987, with a debt of $30million, Omnibus defaulted on investments and closed Abel, DP and Omnibus on April 13th, 1987.

[QUOTE] ³Auctions were held for the remainder of the equipment, including people's desks with papers still in them. I bought an Ikonas framebuffer for $50 that had been bought eighteen months earlier for $35,000. I still have it today. It still works.² ­David Sieg

President John Pennie later headed The Virtual Reality Company, until it went under in 1993. Kim Davidson and Greg Hermanovic purchased the rights to the PRISMS source code and started Side Effects Productions, which later became Side Effects Software. Kevin Tureski went to Alias and was Director of Engineering for PowerAnimator from its inception, and is now responsible for various bits and pieces of Maya. There was also an Omnibus Japan that still exists today, and uses the 3-D Omnibus orb logo.

(1988 to 19??)
Formed by John Whitney Jr. after Whitney/Demos declared bankruptcy in 1988. It used one of the first Connection Machines, and did some work with Karl Simms and Jerry Weil around the era of "PanSpermia".

Pacific Data Images (PDI)
(1980 to present)
Incorporated on August 11th 1980 by Carl Rosendahl, originally in a small office in Los Altos. Carl grew up in LA, and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford in 1979. Wanting to combine entertainment with his technical experience, computer graphics seemed a natural solution. Times begin what they were (so early in the CG evolution), Carl formed his own company rather than seeking employment at one of a very few established companies. Richard Chuang and Glenn Entiss made it a company of three in 1982. Later, after moving to one Sunnyvale industrial complex until 1984, PDI moved into another larger building owned by Carl¹s father. They remained their until moving to their present location in Palo Alto in 1997. PDI has grown from employing less than 20 people in about 1984, to over 300 total today. The first PDP-11/44 was used for much of the original proprietary code written by Richard and Glenn (and Carl too.) Richard concentrated on the renderer, and later on lighting tools. A DeAnza frame buffer also was used early on. The very first jobs were doing broadcast graphics for Jose Diaz of Brazilian Globo Television. Globo actually lent a more powerful VAX computer to PDI for a year, and in return licensed a sub-set of the PDI code for their own production. Many early commercial jobs that kept the company busy were also from the Harry Marks creative agency. By the late 1980s PDI was using RIDGE Unix workstations (similar to Solarity) and controlled about 60% of the high- end commercial broadcast market. Clients included virtually every network and cable channel along with hundreds of affiliate local stations. From the very beginning it was clear that PDI (and Carl in particular) had a uniquely keen business savy that enabled the company to thrive through a time when CG company bankruptcies were otherwise the norm. At least two key strategies were instrumental to PDIs continued financial success. Firstly, unlike most companies that were going heavily into debt to finance ³glamorous² feature film work, PDI concentrated through the 1980s on the lucrative commercial market. It was an easy transition to build on their early reputation in broadcast graphics work. The second important factor in keeping the books in the black was the wise decision to purchase and use ³last years² models of computer equipment, and to depreciate it in just a few short years. It was also at this time (1989/90) that Carl and Tim Johnson began to visit the Hollywood Studios to try and begin a dialog about creative content partnerships. It was a proactive decision to what they saw was a future trend of CG as a commodity, possibly limiting the uniqueness of what PDI might have to offer in the future. As would be expected, the studios were much less forward thinking and no deals came to pass. In 1990 PDI did however open a feature film production office in LA for work on their first film project; the Japanese funded ³Solar Crisis². New equipment included a film scanner built by non-other than Les Dittert, and a Management Graphics film recorder. (The effects work was optically composited.) Soon after that PDI got a big break with some lesser known but still important work on Terminator2: Judgement Day. PDI did a number of different ³invisible² effects such as wire removal and digital plate reconstruction. Work continued on many other features, including the several Batman films. In 1994 PDI closed the LA office, with several key employees (including Jamie Dixon and Thad Bier) staying to form HammerHead. Meanwhile back at home base in Sunnyvale, PDI was continuing to set new standard in broadcast commercial CG techniques. In 1991/92 the technique of ³morfing² was used with great success on numerous projects. The first was a Plymouth Voyager commercial, followed soon by the Exxon tiger, and the famous Michael Jackson video ³Black or White². A perfect subject, perfectly executed, the Black and White video only served to increase the demand for this new technology in broadcast work. Along with the strong 2D effects work being produced, PDI also began very early to experiment and create 3D character animation. Waldo, the first ever 3D CG realtime animated ³muppet², was created for the Jim Henson Hour in 1988. (See the Milestones Chapter for more details.) Crest Toothpaste ³Singers² (88) and Scrubbing bubbles (89) were followed by the Last Halloween television special in 1991. (Based in the M&M Mars candy commercial campaign started by ILM). In 1994 PDI broke a long standing stop motion tradition by introducing a 3D CG Pillsbury DoughBoy with the ³Mambo² spot. The doughboy would in fact continue to be created by PDI for another four years. Gradually more subtle enhancements crept into the spots, including motion blur, which was originally intentionally left out to more closely resemble the look of stop motion animation. 1995 saw Carl knocking on Hollywood Studio doors again, this time (in March, 1996) resulting in PDI signing a co- production deal with DreamWorks to create original, computer- animated feature films. Antz, of course, was the first of the films to be produced under this deal. Shrek is in production now for a late 2000 release, to be followed by Tusker, probably in 2002.

[PDI SHORTS] PDI has a always went beyond pure commercialism with its support of short animated films for their own sake. Some of the earliest memorable SIGGRAPH clips featured the ³Happy Drinking Birds², Chromosaurs, Opera Industrial, Cosmic Zoom, Burning Love, Max¹s Place, Locomotion, Gas Planet. Recent shorts are no exception in Gabola the Great and Sleepy Guy. Their next short Fat Cat is due out soon.

Other fun projects have included the long running Bud Bowl half time series and The Simpsons 3D episode. In 1998 Richard Chung, Glenn Entis and Carl Rosenthal werer awarded a Scientific and Technical Achievement Award for the concept and architecture of the PDI Animation System. Employees included Thad Bier(Hammerhead), Scott Anderson (ILM, Sony). Carl and Richard are still with PDI, while Glenn Entis left PDI to become President of Dreamworks Interactive.

Pixar was formed in 1986 when Steven Jobs (of Apple and NeXT computer fame) purchased the Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Division from George Lucas. George had decided about a year before that he did not wish to continue a hardware development effort in-house, and also did not at that time want to pursue computer generated animation (as did the employees). He therefore agreed to allow Edwin Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith and the rest of the employees of the Graphics Group to seek out investors so that they could spin off into their own company. Many different options were explored over the course of that year, and in the end the negotiations went down to the very last minute with the outcome not always certain. The deal that was finally made called for $5 million dollars to purchase the division with an additional $5 million for immediate capital investment. Founding members included (in alphabetical order): Tony Apodaca, Loren Carpenter, Ed Catmull, Rob Cook, David DeFrancesco, Tom Duff, Craig Good, Ralph Guggenheim, Pat Hanrahan, Sam Lefler, Darwyn Peachey, Tom Porter, Eben Ostby, Bill Reeves, Alvy Ray Smith, Rodney Stock. [SIDEBAR STORY] The story of how Pixar got its name: It was 1981 and the Computer Graphics Group at Lucasfilm was developing the hardware and software for a digital imaging ³scanning/manipulating/filming computer-machine². David DiFrancesco was hardware, Loren Carpenter was software and Alvy Ray Smith managed the project. When it came time to write up a formal proposal about the new device, it seemed appropriate to come up with a catchy name for the middle componant of the system, the computer that did the image processing between the scanning and the filming. One night over dinner (at ³Franks Country Garden² restaurant in Bel Marin Keys, CA) four men got around to discussing the topic of a name. Present were Rodney Stock (a hardware consultant), Jim Blinn (who worked at LucasFilm for a short time), Loren Carpenter and Alvy Ray Smith. Since the hope was for this clever device to actually ³make pictures², the name ³Picture Maker² was suggested. This was quickly rejected in favor of Alvy¹s suggested contraction of ³Pixer². Loren then made the suggestion to change it to ³Pixar² (it had a nicer ring to it) and the rest is history. Loren relates that there are occasionally some attempts to put a greater meaning to the word after the fact (such as ³Programmed Image transformation(X) And Render²) but hereinabove the true story is now told. Suddenly, the new company Pixar was no longer part of a larger profitable effects studio but rather a business all of its own. In the first few years the Pixar Image Computer sold well to a few (very different) client markets. Philips bought over 20 systems to use in the medical image processing market, while Disney made a significant partnership with Pixar to develop the graphics end of what would eventually become the CAPS system. Roy Disney himself wanted to get his company back into feature animation in the right way, and this was seen (wisely) as an investment in the future technology of 2D animation production. Ed Catmull and Pixar soon realized however that the 2D image processing power of the Image Computer was not a money maker, and indeed its days were numbered because of the ever increasing power and low cost of new general purpose PCs. Ed chose however not to drop the hardware development business right away, mainly because the CAPS deal with Disney was entirely based on the Pixar Image Computer and he did not want to leave them ³high and dry². Ed also know it was only a matter of a short time before they could port the CAPS development to the new SGI platform, it was just a matter of waiting it out while they continued to loose money. Just then, Ed received a call from one of their chief competitors in the image processing market, a company called Vicom. Vicom was taking the position that in order to make that market more successful, all the competitors should join forces with one product. ³Would Pixar be willing to SELL their hardware outright to Vicom?² Ed: ³Let me think about that and get back to you on thatŠ² (Ed smiles to himself). Edwin happily sold the Pixar Imaging Computer hardware business to Vicom for $2 million, hoping that they could keep it as a viable product just long enough for the Disney CAPS system to transition over to SGI; which is exactly what happened. Pixar was still a struggling company, with small profit margins and occasional layoffs during particular hard times. It is a testament to the belief of the key partners and employees of Pixar that they hung on during the hard times without giving up their hope to make CG animated movies. John Lasseter himself turned down several offers from Disney to come back and direct a film for them. About this same time, 1990 or so, the commercial division was started to cut some teeth on real production experience. The Listerene, Life Savers and Tropicana spots immediately stood out as being in a creative class by themselves. Produced in conjunction with Colossal Pictures, they blended what was (and continues to be) Pixar¹s trademark realistic rendering ³look² with outstanding character animation and humor. It was at this time that Andrew Stanton and Pete Doctor joined the company as animators. The hope was to get the hang of commercial production and then step up to make a half our television short film based on Tinny from the Tin Toy short film. Then in 1991 Ed Catmull made the 3 picture deal with Disney to create fully CG animated films. Disney¹s point of view was that if Pixar was ready to commit to a half hour show, than doing an 85 minute feature film really shouldn¹t be that much of a stretch. (Yeh Š.sure!). The first film, to be called Toy Story was given a budget of only $17 million. While the final cost was considerably more than that, it was still however considerably LESS than the cost of a traditionally animated Disney feature film. [SIDEBAR TRIVIA] Toy Story was rendered with a render farm consisting of some 300 Sun computers, each roughly the processing power of one original Cray 1 Supercomputer (XX? MIPS). A Bugs Life used 1400 Sun computers, each with a processor upgrade that was 3 to 4 times faster than the ones used on Toy Story! Today, Pixar is overhauling the very foundations of their production environment: the Marionette animation software, Renderman, and their film recording. The software tool sets will be rebuilt from the ground-up into the next generation of animation and rendering software. David DiFransisco has culminated his twenty years of pioneering film recording technology knowledge into ³Pixar Vision². The new laser based recording system is meant to be the finest and fastest in the world, operating with 35mm, 65mm and Vista Vision film stocks at between 4 and 8 seconds a frame. The system was tested on Bugs, but should see full use on Pixar¹s next film, Toy Story II, due out in the fall of 1999. (Early problems with the ³Pixar Vision² laser film recorder were eventually tracked down to the air-conditioning system that keeps Pixar¹s vast render farm cool. The AC system was so large, that the vibrations caused the whole building to vibrate just enough to throw the delicate film recorder¹s quality off!) In 1998 Eben Ostby, Bill Reeves, Sam Leffler and Tom Duff were awarded a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award for the development of the Marionette Three- Dimensional Computer Animation System. Pixar is looking to relocate their company south a dozen miles to ?????? sometime around 2001. Point Richmond, CA.

(198? To present)
Protozoa is a pioneering "performance animation" company that provides complete systems, production, and Web based animation content. Founder Brad deGraf (along with then partner Michael Wharman of Degraf/Wharman) created the first real-time character performance, Mike the Talking Head, at Siggraph 1988. Brad was also part of the team that Jim Henson contracted at Digital Productions in 1988 to digitize Kermit the Frog as the first attempt at . Protozoa and its founders have been leaders in the medium ever since. Moxy, the first ever live 3D character for television, was created and originally produced by Protozoa¹s founders while at Colossal Pictures in 1993 (and later by Turner Productions). Turner also licensed ALIVE, for the Cartoon Network. Ziff-Davis Television bought ALIVE and Dev Null (recent Emmy) from Protozoa to co-host The Site on MSNBC. They produced more than 20 minutes a week for a year, viewed by 55 million homes worldwide, making Dev easily the most widely seen virtual character in the world. Protozoa also created Floops, the first live 3D episodic cartoon, published twice weekly on the Web for over six months using VRML 2.0 (Virtual Reality Modeling Language). Floops won Best of Show at the 1997 VRML Excellence Awards. Others successful projects include: · Dilbert in 3D - 47 episodes in VRML, sponsored by Intel for their Mediadome website. · The BBC is has licensed ALIVE for production of a series in CQ2¹98. · MTV premiered Virtual Bill, the digital President, during the State of the Union address 1998 · Sinbad performs Soulman, his digital alter ego, live on his late night talk show, VIBE. · The Blue Man Group commissioned Protozoa to create Virtual Blue Man for live shows. · The Disney Channel commissioned a pilot, designed by Protozoa, for a series for 1998. The company has numerous international licensees (Germany (2), Spain (site license) Italy (site license), South Africa (2), Britain (2), a growing reseller/representative network, and a full sales pipeline. Protozoa is located in SanFransisco, CA.

(1987 To present)
Founded by Paul Sidlo and Evan Ricks. Paul Sidlo was Creative Director for Cranston/Csuri Productions from 1982 to 1987.

Rhythm and Hues
(1987 to present)
While working at Robert Abel¹s company, Randy Roberts suggested to John Hughes that they spin off a new company. Once the venture got going (as six people in John¹s living room with one SGI) Randy actually ended up Directing independently for a few years, ultimately joining R&H in 1993. Founded in a former dental office in Santa Monica by John Hughes, Charles Gibson, Pauline T¹So and Keith Goldfarb.(from Bob Abel¹s) along with Larry Wienberg and wife Cathy White from Omnibus. Other early employees included Frank Wuts, Cliff Boule and Peter Farson (from Digital Productions) Their very first job (on April 23rd, 1987) was a film project, to realize the MGM/UA logo for that studio. This was especially unusual at a time when virtually all the work was for broadcast television. The following years were spent creating many different commercial and logo projects, starting with their second job for a New Zealand station. 1990 saw some incredible breakthrough work for the feature film ³Flight of the Intruder². Remember at the time, the Abyss had just come out a year before and T2 was still a year away (1991). R&H created over 30 shots of photo- realistic aircraft, cluster bombs, and smoke in full daylight ..all with proprietary software. This was truly breakthrough work that unfortunately was not as recognized as it should have been when the film itself did poorly. With four out of the six original employees code writers, the in-house software effort had began from day one. Eventually four main components would be written: animation, modeling, rendering and compositing. Before all the code was production ready however, Wavefront software was used, based on an agreement John had made earlier with the company started by his former co-worker Bill Kovaks. While working at Bob Abel¹s on and off from 1976 to 1987, John had his own company called ³Motion Control Systems² (MCS) with partner Jim Keating. Jim at that time wrote the ³model² component of the Wavefront code, and in exchange for sole rights to that software Wavefront gave a number of licences to John¹s new company R&H. Bill Kovacs actually wrote his ³preview² code while consulting for John¹s earlier MCS company, but retained sole ownership of that software for himself. Rhythm and Hues¹ work on ³Babe² won an Academy Award best Visual Effects in 199? (VFX Supervised by Scott Anderson and VFX Produced by Nancy St.John.) In March of 1999 R&H bought the visual effects CG company VIFX (which was located just two blocks away in Hollywood). Richard Hollander¹s new position is as head of the film effects group, bringing some 80 of VIFX¹s employees with the purchase. Bill Kroyer has also recently joined the company as a Director, and Richard Taylor is there still today also. R&H in total now employs over 300 people.

Robert Abel and Associates

Talk about CG history with anyone who¹s been in the biz for at least 10 years, and one name will inevitably come up very early in the conversation. In fact, Bob Abel¹s name itself is virtually synonymous with the pioneering early days of computer graphics. Talk to him yourself and you will quickly realize that this is a man to whom the tool is much less important than the creative result. Abel¹s introduction to new technology came at an early age, even in fact as a pre-teen in the 1950s. His uncle Earl Kanter, a World War II draftee and ³high IQ² Harvard student, began experimenting with electronics and early computers. This ³high-tech² childhood would set a foundation for things to soon come. In 1957 a young Abel was doing paste up work for the legendary Saul Bass. It was a trip that Abel made to one man¹s garage that would soon change his life. Saul was working on the opening titles to Hitchcock¹s ³Vertigo² with a man by the name of John Whitney. Whitney was using analog computers and homemade motion control rigs to create artwork of various kinds, and Abel got on very well with the older artist. So much so that Abel was hired as a graphics design consultant on one print job for Foodmaker, the parent company of Jack-In-The-Box. Abel would remain busy doing a great variety of things that would run the gamut from the realistic to the surreal. Abel would shoot an award winning documentary for David Wolper, spend a tour on Vietnam as a combat photographer, and contribute to multi-screen music festivals and rock concerts. All this would solidify in 1971 when that icon of advertising, Harry Marks, would provide Abel and his old friend Con Pederson with the opportunity to create a new look for ABC television. From 1971 to 1973, in 6000 square feet of vacant space behind and accountants office, the fledgling Robert Abel and Associates would begin to take shape. There was no phone, no sign on the building, no advertising and no secretary; just Abel, Con, an optical guy named Dick Alexander and a camera mannamed Dave Stuart.

Major projects included: € 7up ³see the light² campaign € The ³Gold Series² for Benson and Hedges € Amazing Stories opening € The Randy Roberts designed "Brilliance" commercial for the Canned Food Council ( The "Sexy Robot" )

Larry Cuba joined RAA for a short time at the start of 1976, hoping to program the new motion control computers, But left just four months later to create the famous DeathStar graphics for George Lucas¹ Star Wars film. Abel assembled a computer graphics team to work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but the work which was eventually discontinued to be completed by Doug Trumbull and others with traditional effects techniques.
Among Abel¹s early associates were Richard Hollander, John Hughes, Richard Taylor and Wayne Kimall. By 1979 Abel¹s was a full service effects company with a miniature shop and 6 different motion control rigs to augment live action footage. A real breakthrough came when they wanted to have a way to preview motion control moves. To this end, Bill Kovacs was hired to modify an E&S realtime vector PS-2 flight simulation computer. A deal was made to acquire the source code for the $100k machine in exchange for promising to E&S that they would not go into the flight simulator business. Eventually, with new employee Ray Feeney¹s help, the resulting ³Abel/Kovaks box² would drive six axes of movement in both the camera and the motion controlled object for virtually unlimited range of motion combinations. RAA sold it¹s own software under the division Abel Image Research. Bill Kovacs went away to found Wavefront and Frank Vitz took over his job as head of R&D. (Frank ended up as VP of Production while they produced the Gold Series for Benson and Hedges and the "Brilliance" commercial for the Canned Food Council or "Sexy Robot" as it was called.

€Disney¹s ³The Black Hole² Disney had awarded the job to an independent company ³Neo Plastics² run by C.D. Taylor and Mick Hagerty. They in turn hired John Hughes to create a vector graphics grid/black hole simulation. John rented Abel¹s E&S system and shot the images off the screen, optically compositing the CG with artwork and additional traditional animation. Unfortunately once he had the job, but also realized that he had to deliver it in a mere 14 days. Not only did John actually finish the job in just 9 days, but Disney like it so much they would have them repeat the effect for the film¹s opening sequence and one-sheet poster.

€TRON! Kenny Merman and Frank Vitz headed the team that produced the opening titles and ³Flynn¹s Ride² sequences.

(BOB: what¹s the story about an Australian ³con artist² trying to buy RAA?)

At its peak, RAA occupied some 45,000 square feet and employed 240 people. With the best of intentions, Robert Abel & Associates was sold in September of 1986 to John Pennie of Omnibus Computer Graphics of Canada for $8.5 million. The hope was to gain much needed capital investment from an established, publicly traded company. As soon as January of 1987, just a few months later, it was clear that all was not right with the new parent company. Sure enough, that April the 12th all the Omnibus people left en mass in the evening. The next day, April 13th, 1987, with word that Omnibus had defaulted on mountains of dept, all of Abel¹s had one last party before packing up for good.

Hundreds of talented people passed through Abel¹s, many of whom are leaders of the CG field today. Clark Anderson, Richard "Dr." Baily (Image Savant), John Grower(Santa Barbara Studios/Wavefront), Charles Gibson(R&H), Keith Goldfarb, Steve Grey, Rich Hoover, John Hughes(Rhythm & Hues), Pauline T¹So (R&H), Bill Kovacs(Alias|Wavefront), Sherry McKenna, Tim McGovern(MetroLight, Sony ImageWorks), Kenny Mirman, John Nelson, Con Pederson(MetroLight), Randy Roberts, Richard Taylor, Michael Wahrman.
Robert Abel himself went on to explore other varied independent projects in various interactive multimedia. He continues to work actively today, speaking frequently at many CG and visual effects related conferences.

Robert Greenberg and Associates
(1981 To present)
Chris Woods set up a computer graphics department in 1981. Early on some folks from Hanna Barbara did some research, but not until 1985 did the CG department really get off the ground. The initial crew were all from MAGI/Synthavision: Josh Pines and Ken Perlin wrote the RGA rendering code, Jan Carlee and Christine Chang were also joined later by Tom Miller. [FACTOID] The first film project (of many) that Ken Perlins noise function code was applied to was the film Weird Science in 1985. (Now there¹s an obscure factoid for you!). Integral to RGA up to that point was a world class optical and motion control effects department headed by Joel Hynek and Stuart Robertson. The Los Angeles production office, run by George Joblove (Technology/ILM) and Ellen Summers (Producer/Boss Film) and RG/LA operated from 19?? To 199?.

Santa Barbara Studios (SBS)
(1990 to present)
Santa Barbara Studios was founded in 1990 by John Grower, and began specializing in procedural natural phenomenon effects using Wavefront Technologies Dynamation software. Employees included Bill Kovacs, Will Rivera, Eric Guagliani, Bruce Jones, Phil Brock, Eric DeJong, Mark, Wendell, Diane Holland and Matt Rhodes. Programmer named Axel? Large format work has included the the 70mm 3D film Shooting Star and IMAX space films Destiny In Space and Cosmic Voyage. Television series contributions included Other Worlds: A Tour of the Solar System and two collaborations with the Kleiser-Walczak Company on The Astronomers and 500 Nations (which depicted beautifully realistic re- constructions of Native American cultures.) Recent feature film work has included An American Werewolf in Paris, Spawn, Star Trek: Generations, and Star Trek: Insurrection.

Side Effects Incorporated
(1987 to present)
Makers of the procedurally based 3D systems PRISMS and its modern version Houdini. Founded by Kim Davidson and partner Greg Hermanovic after the demise of Omnibus Toronto. Greg was Director of Research at Omnibus and Kim programmed and was the Director of Animation. When Omnibus went under in 1987, Greg and Kim bought the rights to the PRISMS software they had developed from the Royal Bank of Canada (the majority dept holder of Omnibus at the time of it¹s collapse). They started up a production house called Side Effects that later split into two: Side Effects Production and Side Effects Software. (The production side eventually was renamed ³Spin Productions² to reduce confusion. Greg Hermanovic, Kim Davidson, Mark Elendt and Paul Breslin were presented with a 1998 Academy Scientific and Technical Achievement Award for the development of procedural modeling and animation componants of the Prisms software package. Prisms has been used in dozens of major feature films such as Apollo 13, Titanic, Contact, Independence Day, Fifth Element and Ghost in the Shell. Side Effects is thriving today, having renamed PRISMS in September of 1996 as their new updated Houdini software. Houdini also has recently been made available for the Windows NT platform, and has been ported to Linex. Side Effects presently has offices in Santa Monica, CA and Toronto, Canada. 416-504-9876

Silicon Graphics, Inc.
(1982 to present)
Founded in 1982 by Dr. Jim Clark (Ph.D. University of Utah 1974). Manufacturer of RISC processor based IRIS graphics workstations. SGI IRIS (Integrated Raster Imaging System) Jim Clark, while at Stanford University, invented the "Graphics Engine" the first VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) graphics chip.

-FACTOID: Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics went on to found Netscape Communications Corporation. The web¹s most popular graphical browser, which was acquired by AOL in November 1998 for $4.1 billion (Yes that¹s billion with a ³b²)

SGI produced it¹s first computer, the IRIS 1000 in 1983, and went public in 1986. Acquired both Alias and Wavefront in 1995 and Cray Supercomputers in 1996. Announced in 1997 was a new joint effort with Microsoft and Intel to develop a next generation processor line for its graphics workstations, a new SGI Intel/NT. Just introduced in spring of 1999, the SGI 320 and 540 workstations are Windows NT based and cost between $3,400 and $5,995 US. The 540 supports up to 4 PentiumII Xeon 450MHz processors, and up to 2GB or graphics memory.

FAMILY TREE OF HARDWARE 1983/84 SGI's first 1000 series workstations were really terminals, as they required a VAX host. IRIS 2400 3030 3130 PI-35 (Personal Iris) Crimson Challenge Server Indy Indigo2 O2 Octane

[FACTOID] The IRIS Model 3030 in 1986 came with the following specs: -2 MB of RAM expandable to a whopping 16 megs! -A 16 Mhz 68020 -A 40MB hard drive -All in a 29"x18" 200lb chassis.

Revenues for fiscal 1998 were $3.1 billion US. 800-800- 7441

Softimage Inc.
(1986 to present)
Formed by Daniel Langlois in 1986 and based in Montreal. Its first interactive 3D software product ³Creative Environment 1.0² debut at the 1988 Siggraph in Atlanta. SoftImage led the way in advanced IK character animation tools for high end 3D users with the Actor module. The work on Actor started late 1990 and was first shown in public at Siggraph 1991 in LasVegas, and first released in version 2.51 of the Softimage Creative Environment in early 1992. Dominique Boisvert, Rejean Gagne, Daniel Langlois, and Richard Laperriere were awarded a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1998 for the development of the "Actor" animation component of the SoftImage computer animation system. The company did well by being promoted at a time when industry leader Alias was floundering due to management and marketing troubles. SoftImage was acquired by Microsoft in 1994, and sold to Avid in June of 1998 for $285 million. Current products include ³Toonz² 2D cell animation production software, and Softimage|DS which runs on SGI, NT and Integraph platforms. Proposed next generation products include Sumatra for 3D animation and Twister for rendering. 3510 St. Laurent Blvd., Ste.400. Montreal, Quebec H2X 2V2 Canada. 800-576-3846 or 514-840-0324

Sogitec Audiovisuel
The Ministere de la Culture, managed by Jack Lang, gave some funds to start new CG technologies in France. Sogitec is a big industrial group that act mainly in the military field as part of Dassault Electronic. The Sogitec CG department was created in 1982/83 By Xavier Nicolas with Daniel Poiroux and Alain Grach to try to create images using a customized version of a flight simulator software. The first short animated film they created was called "Maison Vole". Early employees included Veronique Damian, and David Salesin. Sogitec became a subsidiary of Dassault Aviation in France, and is now involved in simulation, but not in CGI directly. Nicolas joined with TDI¹s production unit in 1989 to form Ex Machina.

The Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory can be found online at

Symbolics Graphics Division (SGD)
(1981 To 1992)
In 1980, Symbolics, Inc. was formed, headed by Russell Noftsker and his right hand man & CTO Jack Holloway (both from Triple-I). Hardware architecture was based upon work by researchers at the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Lisp Machine project in 1974 (Thanks to the close proximity of the Symbolics Cambridge Research Center). The Symbolics LM-2 was introduced in 1981, the 3600 in 1982, followed by the Symbolics 3640 and 3670 (1984), and the 3675 and 3645 systems (1985). At its peak in 1985 Symbolics had over 650 employees and 35 sales offices in North America, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. Symbolics had over 1500 systems installed around the world. Color graphics system hardware included 8-bit or 24-bit high-resolution frame buffers, 32-bit broadcast resolution frame buffer, CAD buffer, Digitizing frame grabber, Genlock option (for synchronization to video), Color monitors (standard, premium, NTSC-resolution, and CAD buffer monitors), Graphics tablet, NTSC encoders and decoders. The Symbolics Graphics Division (SGB) was created by former members of Triple-I when that company ceased computer graphics production work in about 1981. Founded initially by Tom McMahon (General Manager from Triple-I), he was soon joined by Craig Reynolds, Dave Dyer, Larry Malone, Jeremy Schwartz, Larry Stein(hardware) and Bob Coyne(software). Matt Elson, Jay Sloat and Ken Brain were artists, TD¹s and trainers.. Tom first worked out of the small Woodland hills office, commuting often to the Massachusetts research center. Chatsworth was home for a short while before finally locating to Westwood, CA. In 1983. SGD¹s first general Manager was Howard Cannon from the Cambridge office; followed by Sheila Madsen, John Kulp and then Tom McMahon. Tom went on to design most of the hardware and video systems for the company, including all of the framegrabbing, genlock and High Definition Capabilities that SGD pioneered with Sony and others.

[SYMBOLICS FIRSTS] Symbolics produced the first workstation which could genlock, the first to have real time video I/O, the first to support digital video I/O and the first to do HDTV.

In-house tools included S-Geometry for modelling and S- Dynamics for animation. S-Paint was a LISP based 32bit paint system designed by Craig Reynolds, Tom McMahon, Bob Coyne and Eric Weaver.

[SIDEBAR] Stanley and Stella: Breaking The Ice As many as 50 people worked on the project and shared responsibility. Some key people included , Phillipe Bergeron(hero animation), Joseph Goldstone, Kevin Hunter, Larry Malone, Craig Reynolds(flocking and schooling code), Jim Ryan, and Michael Wahrman(Producer). Richard ³Dr.² Baily was hired by Michael Wahrman to model the two main characters based on sketches. He also composed and recorded the original soundtrack, which was later replaced by another one.

Around 1990, Symbolics started to fail and began to lay off people. Even though the SGD had a successful ongoing business with a good customer base, it still relied on their parent company for workstation and operating system technology, as well as other corporate infrastructure like HR, finance, customer service etc.

Tom McMahon relates the following events: ³Eventually, SGD was the target of a takeover and transition to Japanese management. SGD's Japanese distributor (Nichimen) had a thriving business based on the SGD product line of videographics hardware and the animation & rendering software. They couldn't afford to see us get blown away less the be left without a source of supply. SO they started buying up an insurance policy. They made Symbolics some offers it couldn't refuse given its poor financial health. In a sequence of financial transactions, Nichimen bought rights to certain hardware technologies. They also started picking up the payroll for SGD employees in exchange for certain worldwide distribution rights. In the end we had the people but Nichimen ended up owning most of our hard-earned technology. We had already begun looking at how to port these tools off of Symbolics workstation platforms.SGI became the porting target. By 1991 we were well into the re-write and port. But Symbolics needed to pull the plug on us. I worked out a pretty amazing salvage deal with our old friends at III. I negotiated a contract where I could take ALL of SGD's key employees back to the employ of III, but under a funding arrangement with Nichimen. Nichimen got their security blanket and the employees kept their jobs. (A blanket layoff and the entire extermination of SGD was the alternative at the time.) At III we proceeded to port all of the SGD products to SGI machines. But things started going sour there too. We spun out of Triple-I and started yet another new company (with Nichimen seed funding) called Del Rey Graphics (co- founded by Al Fenaughty (President and CEO of Triple-I), along with Jack Holloway, one of the Foonly designers at Triple-I). But that didn't work due to a hostile takeover by Nichimen. My partners and I ended up selling the whole thing to Nichimen and what is left of this very long thread is now called Nichimen Graphics.²

Symbolics declared chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1995, and was bought back by it¹s original founder Russell Noftsker.


Systems Simulation Ltd.
(1977 To 1988)
John Lansdown founded System Simulation in London with his colleague George Mallen and others from the Computer Arts Society. Through it, he developed major innovations in computer animation, such as special effects for advertisements and television titles, the feature films Alien (1979), Saturn III and Heavy Metal and the realization of the original animated Channel 4 logo. John created what was then the world's largest computer generated mural. (Reviewed in 'Building Design' as a 'waste of electricity', although few today would question the bright power of his creative output. John Lansdown chaired the company until 1988. For a full biography of John Lansdown by Huw Jones, please see online here:

[BIO] ³John Lansdown was Emeritus Professor of Computer Aided Art and Design and formerly Head of the Centre for Electronic Arts (formerly called the Centre for Advanced Studies in Computer Aided Art and Design) from September 1988 until July 1995 when he retired from full-time employment. In 1968 he was one of the founders of the Computer Arts Society and was its honorary secretary for more than 25 years. He was engaged in using computers for creative activities (such as architecture, art and choreography) since 1960 and wrote over 300 publications on computer uses in art and design.² ­excerpt by permission of Huw Jones ( A true pioneer of computer graphics in the UK, John Lansdown died of lukemia on February 17th, 1999.)

Thompson Digital Images (TDI)
(1984 to 1993)
The INA ( Institut national de l'audiovisuel ) was interested in computer graphics, and associated themselves with the French defense contractor Thompson CSF to create the Paris based Thomson Digital Image. Managed by Pascal Bap and Jean Charles Hourcade, TDI developed the 3D animation software Explore and also did production work. Known particularly for their Explore IPR (Interactive Photo-realistic Renderer) interface, TDI even opened a sales branch called "Rainbow Images" in San Jose. The production division merged in 1989 with Sogitec to form Ex Machina. TDI (the software company) was also at one time half owned by IBM. TDI released in 1990 the first versions of their Software for the PC. The software division was then bought by Wavefront in 1993. Wavefront in turn was bought by SGI and merged with Alias.

University of Bath (UK)
-submitted by Phil Willis. Eurographics Professional Board chair and current Department Head of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath.

Special display architectures
In the mid 1970s, we developed the ZMP parallel processor for real-time display (25 frames per second) of colour scenes for aircraft flight simulation. This architecture was patented.
In the early 1980s, we developed the colour Quad-encoded display, for instantaneous pan and detail-revealing zoom into images of 4k by 4k resolution, displayed on a 512 line monitor. Overviews correctly showed sub-pixel data as anti- aliased averages. The same system could also be used to reveal different symbology at different levels of zoom. As far as we ar aware, it was the first display system to achieve either of these. The hardware required to do this was carefully chosen and designed but quite modest.


Improvements in display apparatus for controlling raster scan displays. R L Grimsdale, A A Hadjiaslanis, P J Willis. UK Patent Specification 1-532-275, November 15th 1978.

Zone management processor: a module for generating surfaces in raster scan colour displays. R L Grimsdale, A A Hadjiaslanis, P J Willis. IEE Computer and Digital Techniques 2, 1, February 1979, pp 21-25.

Quad encoded display. D J Milford and P J Willis. IEE Proceedings Part E: Computer and Digital Techniques, 131, 3, May 1984, pp 70-75.

Ultra-resolution pictures.
We have a long history of working with pictures of very high resolution. In 1983 we completed a paint program for the binary Perq display, which offered a roamable drawing area of approximately 7000 by 7000, displaying a 640 by 640 subset. We moved on to use the HLH Orion Unix workstation's new colour display (the design of which was in part influenced by us: we later took delivery of the pre-production prototype). With our own software, we produced what we believe to be the first colour picture with a resolution of a billion pixels (32k by 32k)in about 1986.

References: 1) Manipulating large pictures on the Perq. P J Willis and J B Hanson. Displays, July 1984, pp 170-173. 2) UltraPaint: a new approach to a painting system. P J Willis and G W Watters. Computer Graphics Forum, 6, 2, May 1987, pp 125-132.3) Scan converting extruded lines at ultra high definition. G W Watters and P J Willis. Computer Graphics Forum, 6, 2, May 1987, pp 133-140.

University of Illinois Chicago

(This history is reproduced with permission from the EVL online database here: )

The Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) is a graduate research laboratory specializing in virtual reality and real-time interactive computer graphics; it is a joint effort of UIC's College of Engineering and School of Art and Design, and represents the oldest formal collaboration between engineering and art in the country offering graduate degrees to those specializing in visualization.
The EVL started its life in 1973 as Circle Graphics Habitat, part of the effort by then Vice Chancellor, Joe Lipson, to utilize interactive computer graphics and low cost video (which had just become available) to make an impact on undergraduate education. This reflected a commitment to using technology in education, and a belief in its transformative power, which have again become important in the 90s. The Lab's earliest home was in the Chemistry department, which already boasted the most advanced computer graphics available for state-of-the -art chemical modeling - a Vector General Calligraphic Display (PDP 11/45). The earliest goal was to develop computer-based introductory material for the chemistry curriculum, with the basic premise that this would constitute a self-paced learning environment specifically designed for the varying entry levels of students at an urban university.
Circle Graphics Habitat brought together Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin. The media development system they designed used DeFanti's Graphics Symbiosis System and the Sandin Image Processor. The Graphics Symbiosis System (GRASS) was a computer graphics language that DeFanti had developed for his PhD thesis. The Sandin Image Processor was a patch- programmable analog video synthesizer. A combination of the two systems was the basis of a video production facility for the generation of educational materials. Sandin was a faculty member of the sculpture department where he taught video and was involved with the making of electronically-based, interactive, kinetic sculpture. Circle Graphics therefore also brought together chemists, engineers and artists. An equally important early goal for the Lab was to use the systems created to make art. The GRASS and Image Processor systems were used to make real-time animations that were distributed on the experimental video circuit. The Lab also organized a series of Real Time Interactive Installations and Performances - performance in the music tradition rather than in the newer sense of performance art.
Electronic Visualization Events 1-3 The first EVE (1973) event was actually an IEVE - Interactive Electronic Visualization Event. The performers were faculty and students of Chicago Circle (UIC) and of the School of the Art Institute. The performances took place in the rotunda of the Science and Engineering South building. In the evenings images, manipulated using the GRASS system and analogue processor, were projected onto large video screens and shown on monitors to the accompaniment of live music.
"Real time", with respect to these performances, meant that the images changed instantaneously as the controls were manipulated. In effect, the performers "played" both musical instruments and visuals. The performances were improvisational, in a a variety of musical styles. Preparation involved not only technical and programming issues, but extensive jamming. The interactivity of Interactive Electronic Visualization Event was supplied during the day when the audience could come and play with the equipment. Subsequently the "I" was dropped, EVE2 and EVE3 continued as performances, which were interactive for the performers but not for the audience.
EVE1 was the prototype, establishing the possibility of such an event. EVE2 (1975) involved a lot more planning and quality control of content but was also held in the rotunda with live musical accompaniment. EVE3, in 1977, still emphasised the Real Time possibilities of this medium. However, the performers felt that the logistics of organizing a complicated live performance and a large-scale physical event, were beginning to interfere with aesthetic goals. Therefore, the performances were recorded in front of a small studio audience and edited on a 3/4" deck. The finished show took place in the auditorium of the First National Bank, the computer graphics and sound were played back on a light-valve projector. By the end of the '70s calligraphic systems were being replaced by raster graphics systems with frame buffering. Except in the video games industry, computer graphics became very static. The possibility of interacting in real-time with graphics is only becoming a possibility in the 90s.
In 1976, Larry Cuba came to the lab to create his wireframe Death Star Simulation for George Lucas¹ Star Wars film. (Please see the Milestones chapter for all the details.) The EVL is current actively working on new projects, information about which can be found online here: . Tom Defanti¹s home page is

University of Utah
Dr. David Evans founds the Computer Science Department at the University of Utah in 1968, started in part by Bob Taylors ARPA funding a $5 million grant. The number one problem of the day (according to Ed Catmull at least) was hidden surfaces. Many continually evolving algorithms, such as Watkin¹s algorithm (which subdivided the picture) were never actually implemented but served as inspiration for more practical solutions, such as Catmull¹s more expensive techniques that actually subdivided surfaces. (This work was presented in his thesis work ³Characteristics of 10 hidden surface Algorythms.² in 1974). At the time Ivan Sutherland did not like Catmull¹s ³brute-force² approach, but the advent of much cheaper memory and storage made it an extremely effective, and increasingly practical. Indeed it is just such a technique that is used as the basis for most all CG systems today. Catmull, as part of his interest in solving curved surface problems, had briefly attempted techniques of bending polygons before making his discovering of how to very efficiently and quickly subdivide cubic patches.

[Utah Image processing] Tom Stockham was a brilliant teacher at Utah who brought together the disciplines of image processing and computer graphics. His extraordinary contributions in his related work in audio processing were honored in February of 1999 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a Technical Achievement Award.

How to light things? Henry Gouraud had been working for some time on linear interpolated shading, when he visited Martin Newell and his brother in England who were working on similar research. A stumbling block with the early implementation was mach-banding artifacts, which also hindered the Newell¹s, allowing Gouraud to travel to Utah to finish his ³Continuous Shading of Curved Surfaces² in 1971. Other important individuals at Utah over the years included Frank Crow in the image processing group who developed the concept of anti aliasing; Jim Blinn develops bump mapping and environment mapping while a graduate student; Jim Clark, Lance Williams, Garland Stern, Ron Resch, Alan Kay, John Warnock, Fred Parke, Patrick Baudelaire, Jim Kajiya, Christy Barton, Gary Watkins and man of others. For a good online source of U.Utah Computer Science history, try here: history.html

Vertigo Software Corporation
Employees included Rod Paul(Omnibus NY, R&H, Dreamworks), Floyd Gillis, Dave Gordon, Carl Frederick (OMNIBUS NY, then ILM), Matt Arrott, Nancy St John. Vertigo: a brief history written by Rick Stringfellow Starting Up Vertigo started developing in the early 80¹s in Vancouver BC, Canada. Its exact starting date and who had the original idea is not known. The team that started the product gained funding from the Canadian government. The system was designed largely by animators for animators seemingly looking to solve the problem of creating the best animation system without much too much regard for the final cost. Cubicomps Vertigo system In the later part of the 80¹s when Vertigo International had sold few systems, Cubicomp stepped in and purchased the whole venture. Cubicomp¹s reason for purchasing was speculated to be that it¹s own workstation development was falling behind and it need to acquire Vertigo to keep up with the success of other workstation products such as Wavefront and TDI. The acquisition saw Cubicomp take the Vertigo development to the next phase. In 1990 Cubicomp collapsed, leaving Vertigo in Vancouver. At this point the system was just poised to really take some leaps forward; however without the marketing support of Cubicomp, Vertigo seemed doomed. Vertigo Technology Inc. In 1990, out of the ashes of Cubicomp a couple of ex- vertigo employees and a group of investors purchased the code. With little money and little experience this team managed to finish the next release of code, which sold well. Existing Vertigo users, fearing that this would be the last cut bought up the software. Surprised by success the team then continued to expand and rebuilt the company. For a number of years the successes continued, as did the releases of versions. New features were added and the team grew back to the size that it was in the early days. In 1993 the decision was taken to ditch the old renderer in favor of supporting the industry standard RenderMan. The team undertook to do this directly creating a seamless link to RenderMan. An interface was created to allow easy interactive editing of shaders and renders to RenderMan without writing out RIBs. Finally this allowed Vertigo to break into the film market. Disney BVVE took the system, along with a great deal of support from Vertigo. This relationship grew into Vertigo eventually producing shots for Disney movies in Vancouver. Even with this success and turning into a public company Vertigo again began to run short of cash and its lost its ability to compete with teams such as Softimage and Alias/Wavefront. In a final attempt to get out of the way of these bigger competitors the team started to move the entire development to the Mac using Apple Quickdraw3D. At the same time spinning off smaller components into 2D applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Vertigo still exists and still functions on the SGI. (see the Animation chapter for more details.) Rick Stringfellow was Head of Animation, Product Manager and Designer of versions 9.4, 9.5, 9.6 and the Mac port. Rick can be reached at Radical Entertainment (604 ­ 602 2664 / )

(1985 to 1999) Co-founded by partners Richard Hollander, Greg McMurry, Rhonda Gunner and John Wash. The companies first job was to produce video display graphics for the feature film 2010:Odysee Two. Virtually all the 3D CG in the early years was produced using Cubicomp equipment. Richard was inspired by a NASA/Kodak article about CCD technology and promptly designed and built a 1k by 1k input scanner for production use. The first digital composites it was used for were on the feature film ³Bill and Ted¹s Excellent Adventure² in 199?. In about 1990, the company began creating more ambitious motion picture visual effects and was then known by VIFX/Video Image. Feature film visual effects work for Twentieth Century Fox production as well as other studios, was wide ranging and extensive. The work included Batman Returns, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Down Periscope, Volcano, Face Off, X-Files, Relic, Star Trek Insurrection, Blade, and Pushing Tin. VIFX was sold to Twentieth Century Fox in 1996, and partners Greg McMurry and Rhonda Gunner left the company. In 1998 the Fox animation production Planet Ice was changed from an all 3D CG feature to being traditional cell animation, leaving VIFX with an opportunity to sell themselves yet again to Rhythm & Hues in the spring of 1999. About 80 people, including Richard Hollander, transferred to the new company following the merger. John Wash is no longer with the company but does continue to consult. Richard Hollander currently is President of the film effects division of Rhythm & Hues. He also co- chairs the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences¹ Digital Imaging Technology Subcommittee with Ray Feeney.


A Brief History of Wavefront by Mark Sylvester, Ambassador: Alias|Wavefront

Overview: Larry Barels, Bill Kovacs and Mark Sylvester founded Wavefront Technologies in 1984. The company created its first product, an animation software application called PreView and shipped it to Universal Studios for use on the television series Knight Rider, and to Lamb and Company for use in previsualizing and controlling a motion control camera rig. During the next several years the product line was expanded to include modeling, rendering, compositing, and material editing capabilities. The company enjoyed early relationships with key partners that shaped the direction of the products and the marketplace. Those early partners included Disney (The Great Mouse Detective), NASA (The Shuttle accident recreation), NBC (1986 Olympics) and Failure Analysis (Legal animations, including the World Airways crash at Logan Airport).

The company's first real competition came in 1987 with the advent of Robert Abel and Associates software division, AIR (Abel Image Research). This company, originally founded on a codebase developed by Bill Kovacs, was started to capitalize on the momentum that Wavefront was enjoying in the marketplace. This software was incomplete, undocumented, and very expensive, however AIR had the best marketing materials in the industry with an award winning animation reel done by Robert Abel. Unable to compete against this body of work a deal was struck in 1988, which had Wavefront purchasing the assets of AIR. The AIR software was never incorporated into the Wavefront codebases, even though urban myths have contrary opinions.

The company was originally financed by the founders for the first year, then went through several rounds of venture funding, culminating in an IPO ten years later in 1995. Initial revenues were in the several hundred thousand per year range, and ended in 1994 with annual revenues around 26$M.

The company went from 3 founders and 4 employees, to 12, then 28, then 50, then 90, and then 160 at its highest point in the late 80¹s. Expansion into Europe happened in 1987 with the creation of Wavefront Europe, located in Belgium. It was at that time that the Belgian government also became an investor. The next year, concurrent with the AIR acquisition, Wavefront moved into Japan, and then throughout the rest of Asia.

In the early 90¹s a round of funding with CSK, a major Japanese computer company resulted in the founding of Wavefront Japan, a wholly owned subsidiary. CSK at one time owned 14% of Wavefront.

How the Company Got Started

Originally designed as a production company to create visual effects for commercials and feature films, the initial fundraising efforts were ineffectual until the business model was changed to that of a software company that could sell the same software that the production company would create to produce the commercials. During the first year the company¹s production department, headed by John Grower, now president of Santa Barbara Studios (Star Trek: Insurrection, American Werewolf in Paris) created opening graphics for ShowTime, BRAVO, and the National Geographic Explorer television show. These projects allowed the new software to be tuned to meet the needs of the animators and provided the company with early marketing materials.

In March of 1985 the company attended its first tradeshow, NCGA, and (with Alias) participated in Silicon Graphics¹ booth. At this show the first systems were sold, to NBC (New York), Electronic Arts (London), Video PaintBrush (Australia), Failure Analysis (Mtn. View) and NASA (Houston). This put the company in two markets, Broadcast and Engineering Visualization, and on multiple continents, forcing management to deal with multiple opportunities across diverse geographies.

In 1993 Wavefront entered into discussions to acquire another of the pioneering computer graphics companies, Thomson Digital Images (TDI). TDI had developed a similar set of technologies, in modeling, animation and rendering, and had innovated in the area of NURB modeling and Interactive Rendering. Those technologies coupled with extensive distribution in Europe and Asia made for an ideal fit with Wavefront. The acquisition was treated more as a merger, however, more than half of the employees of TDI left immediately. It took nearly two years to blend the distribution channels in Europe and Asia, as Wavefront had a toehold in those areas already, and fierce competition between the channels was clearly in play.

What Markets Did Wavefront Serve?

Wavefront started with the intent of working with the film and high-end commercial market. However, as a result of its first major tradeshow, it was accepted into the Visualization, Engineering, Broadcast and Post-Production marketplaces as well. The fact that the system was designed to be open-architecture allowed for this market expansion. The majority of the software as designed served both markets well, with some modification for data import, and numerical accuracy to satisfy the military (NASA) and forensic animation (Failure Analysis) requirements. Because of the open architecture of the system, originally crafted by Roy Hall, who went on to receive an Academy Award, and Bill Kovacs, for the system design, third party developers were able to create ancillary applications and market them through a program called Ripples. This open approach was a hallmark of Wavefront, and tended to draw users that were more technical, and interested in customizing the application.

The original business plan talked about military, educational, medical, electronic game, simulation, film/entertainment, engineering and product visualization marketplaces. The only one that never materialized was the simulation market. The company expanded into the scientific market in the late 80¹s with a product called The Data Visualizer. This product, aimed at non-polygonal databases was a success until Silicon Graphics and IBM developed competing products offered for free in bundles to sell high end server hardware into the scientific marketplace. The Data Visualizer built upon Wavefront¹s reputation for open systems, and fast graphics interaction.

The company made one foray into the Œdesktop¹ marketplace with a project co-developed with Silicon Graphics, called The Personal Visualizer. This product was created to give CAD users a point and click interface to highend photorealistic rendering. Initially targeted to SGI hardware, the product was eventually ported to Sun, IBM, HP, Tektronix, DEC, and SONY. The strategy was to bundle the software on every system sold, then follow on with module sales into the installed base.

The company had its best success in the post- production marketplace with sales into the major networks, as the software was extremely fast, productive and reliable. It was able to keep up with that industries incessant demand for more speed. The other major success for the company was in Engineering Visualization. Based upon the idea that the software would be a compliment to CAD, the Wavefront system specialized in file translation, with native translators for every major CAD package. At one Autofact tradeshow, Wavefront was in the booths of 22 vendors, showing interactive visualization of parts, mechanisms, and assemblies created with a plethora of CAD packages. This, coupled with the systems open architecture for reading any type of ASCII data, allowed it to also serve in the post- simulation visualization space, which included NASA, and virtually any company that wanted to view results derived from supercomputers and proprietary software. In 1995, nearly half of the company¹s installed base was in this marketplace.

In 1993 the company entered the Electronic Game market with a repackaging of its core application, The Advanced Visualizer, into a tailored offering called GameWare. This bundle focused the marketplace on Wavefront for game development and was very successful. This effort lasted for one year until the merger (of Alias and Wavefront) when the program was canceled so that PowerAnimator could be sold to game developers instead.

Major Customers

In the film market, Disney was the premier customer, with Warner Digital, BOSS Film (both now defunct), Industrial Light and Magic, Film Magic (Hong Kong), TRIX (Belgium), and Electronic Arts (London). In video production, NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN (Turner Broadcasting) were the premiere partners. In engineering visualization there was Harvard, NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), NASA (6 locations), Alcoa, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). The military visualization marketplace included the CIA, FBI, Naval Surface Warfare Center, US Air Force and the National Security Agency. At the high point there were nearly 8000 Advanced Visualizer users.

Market Dynamics

For the first few years the company enjoyed rapid growth in the film, video and engineering marketplaces. As most customers were doing mostly the same types of things the company was not stressed with specific product requests that were not generally applicable to all types of users. The visualization market was mostly in place to create marketing videos and presentations, so the tools to Œcreate pretty pictures¹ were most desirable. It was after the effort of The Personal Visualizer, and the growing demand for CAD Visualization that the company had to began custom engineering to develop CAD translators.

These efforts at CAD visualization were significant because Wavefront was the first to take on this arena, but the efforts of porting to every platform that carried CAD applications, and the fact that it took nearly one year per port, AND the fact that most facilities eventually would run CAD on Sun, HP, or IBM, and then use Silicon Graphics for Visualization really took the competitive wind out of the sails of the company. Because so much effort was spent on CAD compatibility, and trying to negotiate porting deals with hardware manufactures, the focus on film and video application advancement was lost.

This loss of focus allowed Alias to make inroads into the entertainment market, and also created a vacuum in the entertainment space, especially in animation, that Softimage filled. Softimage was originally billed as a blend of the best of Alias and Wavefront software. Designed by artists, for artists, it languished and was not taken very seriously until they released the product Actor, which was the first Inverse Kinematics package that allowed animators to do real character animation easily. (Actor was recognized this year with a Technical Achievement Award by the Academy). This propelled them into the spotlight of the entertainment marketplace. Remnants of this period still exist in the entertainment market today, with Alias used for modeling (Alias also received a Technical Achievement Award for the modeling component of Power Animator, the recognized industry standard), Wavefront (Dynamation) used for simulation animation, Softimage for character animation, and Renderman for rendering.

For Wavefront, this meant a retrenching into Engineering Visualization, with a renewed focus on CAD translation, and less on porting, as porting efforts started to dwindle post-1992, with the demise of the Personal Visualizer. The reliance on revenue from the visualization market allowed for the development of the Data Visualizer, and continued emphasis on motion data import into The Advanced Visualizer. The efforts to continue to work with the Engineering Visualization market were terminated post- merger as the Alias sales force had no expertise, nor management acumen in this marketplace.

In 1994, the activities that lead to the release of GameWare invigorated the company¹s marketing efforts and returned to them the spotlight, and increased the competition between Alias and Wavefront. The company teamed up with Corypheus Software to produce a real-time simulation environment for use on Onyx systems, giving greater control to game developers. (Called Activation, this product was terminated as it conflicted with Alias¹s efforts in the game business, post-merger). Several Wavefront executives and technical personnel went to Corypheus post-merger.

In early 1995, another effort was undertaken to capture the architectural market. ArcVision was designed to take existing CAD translation software and bundle it with preset color and environment controls, using IPR (Explore¹s renderer front-end) to offer a low cost solution to small firms that wanted to experiment with different color and lighting schemes, using existing CAD architectural databases. This project was terminated post-merger as the Alias management had bad experiences in this market with their Sonata purchase, and did not believe that the market was viable. It never really got off the ground, as it was scheduled to be launched at Siggraph, 1995.

In June of 1995 the merger of Alias Research, Wavefront and Silicon Graphics was culminated.

In 1998, a Scientific and Technical Achievement Award to Jim Keating, Michael Wahrman and Richard Hollander for their contributions that led to the Wavefront Advanced Visualizer computer graphics system. Also in 1998, A Scientific and Engineering Award was presented to Bill Kovacs for his creative leadership and Roy Hall for his principal engineering efforts that led to the Wavefront Advanced Visualizer computer graphics program.

Whitney/Demos Productions
(1986 to 1988)
Founded by John Whitney Jr. and Gary Demos after their company Digital Productions was taken over by Omnibus. Funding assistance included Tom McMahon from the Symbolics Graphics Division and other private investors. Initial production was based upon the Thinking Machine¹s Connection Machine II fronted by a Symbolics workstation, along with other computer systems. Their first project was to team up with fellow ex-Triple-I employees from the Symbolics Graphics Division to produce the film Stanley and Stella: Breaking The Ice. Unfortunately before they could collect the remainder of an initail $5million loan, the majority of the CG production industry collapsed (thanks to the Omnibus fiasco), and the investors balked. THE NAME GAME After declaring bankruptcy in June of 1988, Gary Demos went on to form his own research company DemoGraFX while John Whitney Jr. elected to stay and take the company through the bankruptcy proceedings himself. John continued the company under various names, initially starting fresh as Optomystic. When another company¹s name was found to be similar to that of Optomystic, he changed the name to Digital Animation Laboratories, later selling the assets of the company to US Animation Labs. In December of 1996, that company split in two, keeping the production side as Virtual Magic and selling the company name and software side to Toom Boom Technologies. Today John runs his remaining original assets of Digital Animation Laboratories under the name Digital Editions Inc. (There will be a quiz on this later so I hope you paid attention to all that. ­Tman)

(1988 to present)
Founded in early 1988 by Arthur Shwartzberg and Michael Tolson. Arthur's strength and experience was in Marketing while Michael was the creative visionary. Xaos was originally called Eidolon when they both left a studio in SF called Synthetic Video, where Arthur was Director of Marketing and Michael was a co-founder. Xaos began at the time of collapse for so much of the CG community, and made the decision to go with 100% proprietary tools as the basis for their work. As a small shop (10 or 11 people) there was a conscious decision to not pursue the standard fare of "flying logos" which was the backbone of the industry at the time. Their unique design esthetic won instant acclaim at places like the NCGA, BDA and SIGGRAPH. Arthur and Michael left the company in 1991 to form Xaos Tools, in a hope to capitalize on the very unique software tools that Xaos had created. Taking over in their absence was Marc Malmberg who kept the company going at its then current state. Significant at the time was a decision to make a 100% change over to an NT based production pipeline, a situation that is still the case today. Arthur left Xaos Tools in 1996, with Michael following in late 1998. Xaos Tools has gone threw bankruptsy but should continue in some form at least for a while. Arthur then returned to Xaos in 1998, and preceded to implement significant changes to it's whole business strategy and long term plans. Marc Malmberg left Xaos in 1998. Today, Xaos is in the midst of a re-birth of sorts, planning to roughly double in size from 25 to 50 employees in the next year. It is this "boutique" sensibility that is the intended format to carry them into the next era of creative content markets. Key to this plan is strengthening the already strong presence in the large format film market, and expanding their commercial presence. Early employees included Chitra Shriram(Creative Director), Roberta Brandao, Henry Preston(ILM), Amelia Chenoweth and Hayden Landis(ILM), Eric Texier(ILM), Ken Pearce(PDI), Tony Lupidi(Electronic Arts).

Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center)
The Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) opened on July 1st, 1970 in Palo Alto, California; just outside the Stanford University campus. [FACTIOD] PARC initially followed the pure research model of such facilities as IBM's Yorktown Heights research Center, AT&T Bell labs, MIT Lincoln Labs, and The Stanford Research Instutute "Augmentation Research Center" (Where Douglas C. Engelbart created the mouse.) PARC also spawned the follow up DEC Systems Research Center, founded later by Bob Taylor just across the Stanford campus from PARC. Jacob Goldman, chief Scientist and founder of PARC initially divided the facility into three separate units: 1) The Computer Science Lab (SuperPaint!) 2) Systems Science Lab 3) General Science lab. While computer graphics was never a goal of PARC per se, Bob Taylor himself was very familiar with this new area of computer science research. He had overseen the Information Processing Techniques Office of ARPA (The Defense Departments Advanced Research Project Agency) which funded many early university grauduate programs, including Dave Evans' graduate program at Utah back in 1965. The person who did bring CG research to PARC under Taylor was Dr. Richard Shoup of Carnegie Mellon University. Shoup had been at the short lived BCC (Berkeley Computer Company) from 1968 to 1970, and was given a full year upon starting at PARC to explore what it was he wanted to do. What he ended up doing was developing Superpaint. Along with artist Alvy Ray Smith, Shoup experimented designed and built the first digital paint system with a non-random access, 8- bit frame buffer. [FACOID] SuperPaint records and stores it's first image (a picture of Dick Shoup holding a sign saying "It works, sort of") With assistance from Flegal, Curry and Patrick Beaudelaire on April 10th 1973. 486 x 640 res. Shoup left to form Aurora Systems and was Awarded a Technical Emmy Award in 1983. [QUOTE] ³My big technical contribution (I was really there as an artist) at Xerox PARC, to Shoup's Superpaint, was invention and implementation of the RGB to HSV transform for artistic selection of colors. Other than this contribution, all other programming of Superpaint was Dick's.² ­Alvy Ray Smith Other CG related breakthroughs at PARC included: -February 1975, the first GUI is demonstrated, with multiple windows and pop-up menus that would be incorporated later as a standard in both Mac (and later Windows) operating desktop systems. -The first Alto was powered up in 1973 (displaying an image of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.) It¹s bitmap display was a vertical format 8x11 inch screen with a resolution of 606x808 pixels. With a maximum of 128k of main memory and 2.5 meg disc over 2000 were manufactured by 1978 at a cost of about $12,000 each. Upgraded as the AltoII in 1975, and the AltoIII in 1976 it was actually the first PC installed in the White house (in 1978). Some irony perhaps as the world first WYSIWYG computer being used in the heart of Washington politics? -The Smalltalk object oriented language by Alan Kay (1974) developed the WIMP (Window manager, Icons, Mice and Pop-up) interface concept. PARC is still an active research center today.

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