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Interview With Head of Pixar Animation Ed Catmull

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the all-hail-pixar dept.

Graphics 85

CowboyRobot writes "Stanford professor Pat Hanrahan discusses graphics with Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull. Hanrahan and Catmull share an Oscar award for developing RenderMan. 'Among the many things that are inspiring about Pixar, and one way you've had a huge impact on the world, is that you changed many people's views of what computing is all about. A lot of people think of computing as number crunching whose main application is business and engineering. Pixar added an artistic side to computing. I've talked to many students who realize that art can be part of computing; that creativity can be part of computing; that they can merge their interests in art and science. They think of computing as a very fulfilling pursuit.'" I liked this, and not just because I spent the last week watching Toy Story 3 multiple times with my kid. Catmull talks a lot about the intersection of science & art and the time before Pixar. Anyone else think Pixar might be the geek Mecca? Do they do tours?

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85 comments

Always been there (4, Insightful)

anvilmark (259376) | more than 3 years ago | (#34230806)

Old programmers can tell you that software has always been a type of art. An esoteric form of art perhaps, but a piece of well written code is a thing of beauty.

Re:Always been there (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231188)

But these days computing is less esoteric than ever. Who still thinks of "computing as number crunching whose main application is business and engineering"? Computers are mundane now. As I was earning my CS degree, I got more comments like, "what's to research? You turn on the computer, do your word processing or whatever, and turn it off."

Re:Always been there (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231566)

"what's to research? You turn on the computer, do your word processing or whatever, and turn it off."

Perhaps that's how most folks use computers, but how I use a computer is completely different...

I have an interesting idea. I turn on the computer. My ideas are made "concrete", virtually palpable (literally) and instantly available to millions of other minds.

Note: At this point I have no incentive to "turn it off".

Virtually anything I can imagine I can make appear on the computer screen.
A coder sees a computer as a place where anything is (or will shortly become) possible.
The biggest part of my own "research" is making it easier for non-coders to have this same experience.

Re:Always been there (2, Interesting)

immakiku (777365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231192)

It's art in a different form than the fine art that this article refers to. It's the art of simplicity and elegance, similar to a nice mathematical proof. But I think the article is relating computing to the art developed for the prime purpose of aesthetics.

Re:Always been there (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34233448)

Step 1: Appeal to liberal arts majors.
Step 2: Increase visual arts programmers pool.
Step 3: Be able to lower initial salaries due to increase in pool of applicable employees.
Step 4: ???
Step 5: Profit!

Re:Always been there (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231242)

An esoteric form of art perhaps, but a piece of well written code is a thing of beauty.

Both are so rare, so they must be valuable.

Re:Always been there (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231408)

Old programmers can tell you that software has always been a type of art. An esoteric form of art perhaps, but a piece of well written code is a thing of beauty.

It's even smaller than Esoteric - a piece of well written code isn't actually MEANT to be seen by anyone. A perfect piece of code would never need to be touched again, were such a thing possible (I know its not). I view good code as something that preforms its function - accounts for a wide variety of input - and is highly maintainable. If you've achieved that, you won't be needing to alter the code that much, if at all.

What Pixar does is actually ART art. It's something that you put on display for the masses of people to enjoy. Even if it were something esoteric, it's still meant to be seen.

A lot of the code written today is not generally meant to be on public display. It's meant to either work and be done with - or open sourced for other people to review and check and compile and use - but not really to admire.

Don't get me wrong - I will pause for a moment if I see something truly genius, and smile. But I don't get any of the other strong emotions that these other forms of art can do. I've cried in movies, whens the last time you cried at a piece of code? (Besides looking back at your first Geocities page with javascript)

Re:Always been there (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231582)

whens the last time you cried at a piece of code?

When I worked for a large ERP software company, every time I had to do maintenance on a 5,000 line stored procedure...

geek mecca? (4, Interesting)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34230822)

I can think of much better candidates for "geek mecca": Alan Turing memorial statue in Sackville Park, Manchester; the HP garage in Palo Alto, California; the first Department of Computer Sciences -- Purdue University; the list goes on.

Re:geek mecca? (2, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34230996)

I completely agree with you. Personally (as someone involved in the CG industry), I'd say that the computer graphics lab at NYIT, and ILM have a higher geek status than Pixar (which would not have existed if not for Lucas and NYIT).....

Re:geek mecca? (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232936)

If Pixar is geek Mecca, call me an infidel. I wouldn't work for thieving, hypocritical [wordpress.com] Disney any more than I'd work for Mickeysoft... er, Micro$haft.

Toy Story 3. Did you cry at the end? (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34230860)

Toy Story 3 is a masterstroke in timing. TS1 exploited all the nostalgia the parents were having seeing their trusted old toys brought back in vivid color and life. The kids who watched TS1 are going to college now and TS3 exploits the nostalgia of these teenagers. I heard teenage boys unabashedly admit they cried in the last scene. In fact one of the walking backwards college tour guides (Amherst, MA) proudly declared he cried too.

As for science intersecting with arts, it has always been the case. Statues and sculpting advanced metallurgy as much as canons and swords.

Re:Toy Story 3. Did you cry at the end? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231194)

I did have watery eyes near the end.. didn't quite get to the tears stage though.

Re:Toy Story 3. Did you cry at the end? (3, Funny)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231530)

Good point. And here all I was seeing was political undertones...

Re:Toy Story 3. Did you cry at the end? (2, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34233384)

That kind of shit has been creeping into children's television for decades.

Ever watch Sesame Street? All that stuff they say about sharing? Sounds an awful lot like commie pinko propaganda, don't you think? And that green fucker in the garbage can looks a hell of a lot like Stalin.

Man, don't even get me started on the Teletubbies and their Homosexual Socialist agenda.

Re:Toy Story 3. Did you cry at the end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34234176)

That kind of shit has been creeping into children's television for decades.

Ever watch Sesame Street? All that stuff they say about sharing? Sounds an awful lot like commie pinko propaganda, don't you think? And that green fucker in the garbage can looks a hell of a lot like Stalin.

Man, don't even get me started on the Teletubbies and their Homosexual Socialist agenda.

hahahahaha

Re:Toy Story 3. Did you cry at the end? (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232718)

I was amused at how the ending of TS3 was received by the audience. Every adult in the theater was crying, every kid (my 4 year old included) was smiling because (to them) it was a happy thing that was happening.

fulfilling to what end? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34230914)

"I've talked to many students who realize that art can be part of computing; that creativity can be part of computing; that they can merge their interests in art and science. They think of computing as a very fulfilling pursuit."

That SOUNDS nice, but most people won't make the money that Pixar does. Nothing is more fulfilling than having the opportunity to EVEN find a job that pays a decent wage. Pixar might be more of a geek mecca if average geeks could actually get a job there.

Re:fulfilling to what end? (1)

njen (859685) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231042)

As far as the industry is concerned, Pixar actually pay about 20% - 30% less than most of the other high profile studios (Dreamworks, ILM, Digital Domain, etc.)

It's common knowledge that one does not go work at Pixar for the money.

Re:fulfilling to what end? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231244)

If money was actually fulfilment, I would be working offshore right now, for 10x the amount that I make from coding. I do consider it occasionally to get a bit of a boost to make stuff like buying a house easier, but that's certainly not "fulfilment". It's just security. I already feel relatively secure with the wages I have anyway, and I know I'd have a hard time finding another job where the perks are as good as the one I already have.

Adult movie (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34230968)

I've said this before when the topic of Pixar came up but I would really, really love to see them produce a movie specifically for adults! I don't mean pornographic or lots of explosions, either. Just a well written, animated movie! You can do so much when it's all animated and it's easier to suspend disbelief for fantastic visuals. No one complains that a crazy scene looks cgi if the whole movie is cgi! :) It just seems like there's this stigma about animation being only for children in America. If anyone could turn that around I bet Pixar could. It doesn't have to be hardcore cyber-punk or anything just *any* story with the same solid, deep writing and visuals that the movie Wall-E had.

Re:Adult movie (3, Insightful)

pete_norm (150498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231178)

Ratatouille was great, and not necessarily a children movie. Last time i took a plane, it was the in-flight movie, and everyone listened to it, from grandfathers to children. Nobody had anything to say about the fact that it's supposed to be children movie, and, by the reactions during th movie, i guess everyone liked it. The same could be said of The Incredibles which is a really good Super Hero movie in itself.

Re:Adult movie (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231210)

didn't like Ratatouille one bit. Rats in the kitchen. erghhh. Gives me the hebejebes.

Re:Adult movie (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34235144)

Rats in the kitchen. erghhh. Gives me the hebejebes.

Then I guess you wouldn't like a lot of other films from Disney's parent company: the Mickey Mouse shorts, The Rescuers, and a bunch of other films with talking rodents.

Re:Adult movie (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231246)

I haven't seen Ratatouille but I really enjoyed The Incredibles. I thought the movie was well done, polished and interesting. Lots of childrens movies are awfully immature and boring but have a few adult references thrown in almost like easter eggs to keep the parents from dying of boredom. All the Pixar movies I've seen have been pretty entertaining throughout on their own merit. But even so I think they're just so well written and animated they Children love them and anyone can enjoy them.

Studio Ghibli (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34234786)

Ratatouille was great, and not necessarily a children movie. Last time i took a plane, it was the in-flight movie, and everyone listened to it, from grandfathers to children. Nobody had anything to say about the fact that it's supposed to be children movie, and, by the reactions during th movie, i guess everyone liked it. The same could be said of The Incredibles which is a really good Super Hero movie in itself.

Many of Studio Ghibli's movies are the same way.

One remarkable thing about SB's stuff is that there's usually no villain or antagonist. Kiki, Totoro, Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl, etc., all tell a story without there being a bad guy.

Re:Adult movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34231282)

I've said this before when the topic of Pixar came up but I would really, really love to see them produce a movie specifically for adults! I don't mean pornographic or lots of explosions, either. Just a well written, animated movie!

One word: Sandman. :-)

Re:Adult movie (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231316)

Check out Advent Children. Yes, the dubbing was terrible, and the story is a bit disappointing and difficult to follow, but the action scenes are incredible - both in the sense of "that's awesome" and "I can't believe that". It's only a "good movie" to fans of the franchise, but it does show the possibilities for non-kid-oriented CGI. For one, it proves that "nobody complains that a crazy scene looks cgi if the whole movie is cgi" - more people complained about the drawn-out emotional scenes than the use of a skyscraper as a projectile weapon.

Re:Adult movie (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231484)

I did actually see that one and I thought pretty much exactly the same thing. The visuals were amazing but the plot and writing was pretty awful. And that's coming from an old-school final fantasy fan.

Re:Adult movie (1, Flamebait)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231330)

Did you just use Wall-E as an example of "deep writing"? It's the only Pixar movie I don't consider worth buying on DVD. It's visually pretty nice, but I found the plot pretty hard to take seriously. Graphically it was amazing, but other than that I thought it was one of the worst films I've ever seen..

I can suspend disbelief for toys coming to life, but the sentient robots in Wall-E didn't do it for me. Wall-E developing sentience just from being alive for a long time, and on the flip side his gf suddenly becoming anything other than a hard-assed killer in a short amount of time. Sure, similar stuff happened in Short Circuit and Terminator, but they just did it better.

Re:Adult movie (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231556)

I honestly thought the writing in Wall-E was pretty incredible. I don't think they were saying Wall-E gained sentience from being on for a long time. At least I don't remember that being part of the plot. One of the amazing parts for me was how emotive Wall-E was without ever speaking a single word. Sometimes when I remember back to the movie I forget that the two main characters had zero lines of dialogue. I seriously doubt many other writers could pull that off. I am a huge sci-fi fan too though, so maybe that created some bias for my part.

Re:Adult movie (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231730)

I love sci-fi. I just remember finding the whole movie annoyingly lame after all the hype that was surrounding it. There were ads for it in the cinema something like 5 months before it even came out. I was excited about it for months, though a little annoyed at how much they drew it out.

I also just remembered part of the reason I disliked it so much: the ads made it look like the whole thing was set in a post apocalyptic wasteland with just Wall-E and his girl, but that part didn't last long in the movie, and it ended up turning into a slapstick comedy with a bunch of lazy fat people.. I was disappointed.

I'd think most of us here were brought up watching Warner Brothers cartoons where many of the characters have zero lines of dialogue but still pull off the same trick, so I didn't really think of it as anything new either. Then of course there's R2-D2, and even non geeks love him.

Re:Adult movie (1)

Rakarra (112805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34236136)

I love sci-fi. I just remember finding the whole movie annoyingly lame after all the hype that was surrounding it. There were ads for it in the cinema something like 5 months before it even came out.

Five months? These days that's nothing. I remember being shocked when I saw a commercial for Godzilla (1998) in the theater a full twelve months before it came out.

Re:Adult movie (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231916)

Subjective opinion, and everyone's is arguably equal, but you are part of a pretty small minority in that one.

Re:Adult movie (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34233544)

Indeed, though I'm part of a small minority in many cases.. I enjoy minority browsers, operating systems, TV series, music, and sports.

I didn't like the Lord of the Rings books and movies that much either! *runs before he is set aflame*

Re:Adult movie (1)

sahonen (680948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232260)

My main beef was the characterization of the population of the Axiom. They've spent their entire lives on a space ship where their every whim is catered to by robots, and so have their parents and grandparents for many many generations. All of a sudden, out of nowhere they're being told that, hooray, Earth is growing plants again, we all get to go home... And every single person is totally, completely, enthusiastically on board with changing their entire way of life, to repopulate a deserted (and actually, still pretty polluted and disgusting) planet from scratch when none of them have ever had any sort of experience or exposure to even the outdoors, much less things like farming and the hardships of a largely non-technological existence. Oh, yeah, and Wall-E is dying and somehow everybody there knows who he is and cares about him, despite their only exposure to him being through huge blaring announcements saying "this robot is dangerous."

Just too much of a stretch.

Re:Adult movie (1)

Rakarra (112805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34236200)

All of a sudden, out of nowhere they're being told that, hooray, Earth is growing plants again, we all get to go home... And every single person is totally, completely, enthusiastically on board with changing their entire way of life, to repopulate a deserted (and actually, still pretty polluted and disgusting) planet from scratch when none of them have ever had any sort of experience or exposure to even the outdoors, much less things like farming and the hardships of a largely non-technological existence.

I think you could make the case that almost none of them knew what they were actually getting into (even the videos the captain watched whitewashed the process of farming). Much like, say, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie might think going to spend the summer on a farm milking cows and such might be "rustic" and "fun," then the realities of hard work and getting dirty set in, things that didn't occur to them since that way of life is so foreign.

They crew seemed kind of disappointed in Earth once they got there.

Re:Adult movie (1)

sahonen (680948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34238686)

I suppose I can agree that maybe they didn't know what they were getting into... But I still have trouble with the idea that everyone would be that enthusiastic and that nobody would be hesitant about such a drastic change in their fundamental way of life, especially when the movie presents them as having been brought up as mindless consumers in the cradle of BnL Corp. I really don't see any precedent in the movie for these people to have any interest in anything outside of spending every moment relaxing and buying shit. Maybe if I'd seen some kind of sentiment that people were anxious to go back to Earth *before* Wall-E came on the scene it would be more believable... As it was, it took an accident to get people to even start looking out the window instead of sitting absorbed in their chairs' video screens.

And then there's the sheer implausibility of the idea of a group of people who are morbidly overweight and whose muscles have practically never been used at all, much less for supporting their weight under Earth gravity, being even *capable* of surviving after landing on Earth. These people are literally helpless without their chairs to haul them around, and all of a sudden they land on Earth and they can get up and walk around. I don't buy it.

Considering they'd been out there 700 years, I don't see why they had to start re-settling Earth that very instant. They did need the parts that Wall-E had stashed in his home to get him fixed up again, but there's no reason the ship couldn't have sat in orbit for a few decades to breed a generation of children who would have been physically capable of the task ahead of them.

Re:Adult movie (3, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232734)

Huh, I was under the impression that the only reason the robots on the Axiom didn't become sentient is because they were "fixed" when they started showing aberrant behavior, which in Wall-e's case led to him becoming sentient.

Then again there are plenty of things to nitpick about the movie reality-wise (I mean seriously, the Axiom just jettisoned trash into space instead of recycling?) but at least for me the heart of the story overcame all that. And IMO the "dancing in space" scene was one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen in a movie.

Re:Adult movie (1)

Yunzil (181064) | more than 3 years ago | (#34234924)

Graphically it was amazing, but other than that I thought it was one of the worst films I've ever seen..

Everyone is entitled to their opinion; even if yours is utterly wrong.

Re:Adult movie (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34235924)

It's funny, the bar for Pixar movies is so high that, for me at least, Wall-E was a "flop" even though I'd have to still give it an 7 or 8/10. If it was one of the worst films ever made, you apparently haven't seen a lot of films, or your tastes differ from most people's to a pretty extraordinary degree.

Honestly, I'm also getting tired of thinly-veiled environmental messages shoved down my throat (see: every other Miyasaki movie), and at this point it just puts me in an off mood for the rest of the movie. It didn't help that Pixar has no qualms about shoveling a bunch of cheap, plastic, disposable crapola toys and other marketing material at us to promote the movie, thus demonstrating their utter hypocrisy.

Re:Adult movie (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34236276)

True, as a general movie I guess it was okay, saying it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen was a bit harsh. Perhaps should have said one of the most disappointing movies I've ever seen.

This conversation has just reminded me of "9" though. Again it was graphically amazing and had a cool soundtrack, but the plot was so incredibly dumb.. it had no logic to it.

Re:Adult movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34231618)

Pixar movies are for everyone. They have an uncanny ability to intertwine "adult" topics that appeal to grown ups with a lot of humor and slapstick that appeals to children (and the adults as well).

Take Up as an example. I doubt that there are any children that even get what is going on in the first 20 minutes. Getting married and being unable to conceive and fighting the emptiness of a life without children. Having to compromise instead of being able to achieve your dream. Getting old and frail. Death of a lifelong partner. Those are not topics for children movies, they are completely outside their horizon. At the latest with the scene where Carl (*spoiler alert* read below if you have seen the movie) it should be clear that there are two movies in one. One for children with the old man and his flying balloon house and the funny animals and the boy scout. And one movie for grown ups, where an old man fights the emptiness of a life alone without his lifelong partner.

(*spoiler*)

  Where he finds out that Ellie filled the pages in their adventure book, which finally gives Carl a sense of closure instead of failure to keep his cross-on-the-heart promise.

Re:Adult movie (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231994)

It just seems like there's this stigma about animation being only for children in America.

Which is silly as all getout. Warner Brothers cartoons were meant for adults. Ralph Bakshi tried to make cartoons "not for kids", Fritz the Cat was the only full length animated motion picture ever to be rated X by the MPAA, and Cool World was rated R.

Re:Adult movie (2, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232276)

I would really, really love to see them produce a movie specifically for adults!

I would argue that Up! was largely a movie for adults. The segment showing Carl and Ellie's married life together (in four minutes, with no dialogue), complete their being told they can't have children, their economic pressures and Elle's death (blah blah blah spoiler alert, live with it) is not a segment for kids... It rings very true for any 'married' grownups. I remember watching it (again) on a flight, and all the adults in my row were crying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klJcD6HyeOg [youtube.com]

Re:Adult movie (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232600)

I'm not sure I agree with you completely, you're right that that scene had more grown up themes than people usually think kids can handle but I think that's why their stories are so good. They're not pandering to kids and they treat them with a little more respect than most 100% slapstick kids movies. Plus, that scene aside the majority of the movie contained more typical childrens themes and humor. However if your point is that Pixar movies blur the line between kids movies and more grown up entertainment I wouldn't argue that with you.

Ed, I went to Skool with Ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34231020)

And he was smart in skool I gradeat same time me and Ed. He wer lot yunger tho.

Glory of being a video game programmer! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231208)

Anyone else think Pixar might be the geek Mecca? Do they do tours?

Sounds very much like those whom worship the idea of being a game programmer, while knowing nothing of the working conditions.

Not saying the conclusion (run! its a sweatshop!) is identical, just saying it sounds creepily similar.

All we need is a slashvertisement for a 2 year AA degree in "computer animation" "as advertised on cable TV" and the circle will be complete...

young people flee when we talk about punchcards (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231228)

Its nice to know about computing history if you have the time. But not too relevant. The whole software industry is like a giant ocean liner moving forward to the future. Being 15 or 50 years old doesnt matter. We all to to be updating our technology.

you are a waste of electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34231322)

Apart from some comments, eg: 'martas` and linuxwrangler, the rest are a waste of electricity. Tacho, I can't remember the last time I read any comment on slashdot that advanced my understanding of technology.

And how, exactly... (1)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231410)

"Apart from some comments, eg: 'martas` and linuxwrangler, the rest are a waste of electricity. Tacho,"

And how, exactly, was the electricity required to transmit YOUR post, of better use?

"I can't remember the last time I read any comment on slashdot that advanced my understanding of technology."

Don't blame slashdot for your learning disorder.

Numbers (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231650)

I recall in an early ray tracing text the author talking about a college professor who stated that computer graphics were pointless and that computers should be used for nothing but pure number crunching. And people wonder why the title "professor" does not automatically impress me. I could see the potential even as a kid when I saw an early system that just did line drawings on a plotter.

Sigh... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231830)

I remember Renderman being bundled with NeXTSTEP. I wish we still had it in Mac OS X.

-jcr

Pixar are still evil (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 3 years ago | (#34231894)

Pixar were responsible for unirally's [nintendolife.com] production being stopped and any hopes of a sequel dashed.

All because the game used a red unicycle, to me this is like suing someone because they used a tennis ball in a game of tennis.

Then again I should expect such things from a company founded by jobs

Computers & Art (1)

isaaccs (1854142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232300)

"I've talked to many students who realize that art can be part of computing; that creativity can be part of computing; that they can merge their interests in art and science." It's so obvious - but so under appreciated. I've always been skilled with computers, and fought the urge to be a geek, rather lending my efforts to more traditional creative pursuits in the fine arts all through college. One of the most critical realizations of my life was coming to understand the truth in this quote- computers are the paramount creative medium of our time. Interface designers, animators, software engineers are vastly unappreciated - not completely unappreciated, but vastly under appreciated. Society perceives many geeks as nothing more than modern-day plumbers (and I'm not insulting the plumbers of the world), and often celebrates "contemporary" aritsts as rock-stars. Not too diminish traditional arts, but moving pixels is every bit as difficult as pigment, and deserves every bit as much respect and admiration. The state of modern computers (and I use the term loosley), are an incredible testament to human creativity. *We* took ones and zeros and aligned them to be things that are not only beautiful in form and function, but allow us to realize enhanced creative expression across almost every other medium we know. Wow.

Larry Gritz (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34232418)

so what ever happened to Larry Gritz?
I used to be a big fan of BMRT

Re:Larry Gritz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34235468)

As I understand it, after he left Pixar, he founded Exluna, but the subsequent Pixar lawsuit forced Exluna to sell to Nvidia, where he worked on the Gelato renderer. After Gelato was discontinued, he moved on to Sony Imageworks, where he works on rendering tools. He's got his name on a few recent open-source graphics projects... See OpenImageIO, Open Shading Language.

Re:Larry Gritz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34236006)

Larry formed ExLuna, and created another renderer called Entropy. Pixar decided to sue them over patent violations, and since ExLuna was in the process of being sold to NVIDIA, so they settled. Larry worked on NVIDIA's Gelato renderer, which was supposed to be turbo-powered by the NVIDIA video cards. The dirty little secret was that most of the work was done in software, and it never really caught on.

The last I heard, Larry was working for Sony's Imageworks as the lead on OSL (Open Shading Language).

Here's a recent presentation of his: http://www.larrygritz.com/docs/HPG2009-Gritz-Keynote-clean.pdf

The Oscar information cited is incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34232506)

From the Pixar website:

2001 - Academy Award of Merit - "Oscar®"
Ed Catmull, Loren Carpenter, and Rob Cook, were honored with an Academy Award® of Merit (Oscar®) “for significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar’s RenderMan®.” This was the first Oscar awarded to the developers of a software package for its outstanding contributions to the field. Press Release

1993 - Scientific & Engineering Award
In 1993 the developers of Pixar's RenderMan (Loren Carpenter , Rob Cook, Ed Catmull, Thomas Porter, Pat Hanrahan, Tony Apodaca & Darwyn Peachey) won a Scientific and Engineering Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for RenderMan's contribution to the motion picture industry.

Pixar killed BMRT (1)

ACorvus (202386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34233606)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Moon_Rendering_Tools [wikipedia.org]

The article explains most of it. BMRT was a freely available Renderman-compatible renderer. It was available for years until Larry Gritz decided to produce an upgraded commercial version.

It was quite a fun toy to play with, and also probably stopped quite a few aspiring 3D artists from learning RM.

Re:Pixar killed BMRT (1)

ACorvus (202386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34233636)

Ugh, that last sentence makes no sense; I meant:

"its loss probably stopped quite a few aspiring 3D artists from learning RM."

Re:Pixar killed BMRT (1)

artao (648799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34236886)

Well, now there is Aqsis and Pixie. Aqsis has more active development. Both are perfectly capable RM-compliant renderers. Besides, one can still use BMRT if one wants ... I've still got the last release. ... never have gotten the hang of RM though, mostly due to the difficulties of RMSL, I'm just not a programmer that way I guess ...

Tours (1)

ukemike (956477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34234420)

They don't really do tours, unless you know someone. Our office is near Pixar and this summer they needed access to some of our parking spaces for some of the construction they have been doing. They gave us a tour in return. It was neat and it went a long way to make up for the self-absorbed attitude exhibited by most of the Pixels. (That's what we call Pixar people, though sometimes we call them Pixies). It even took an edge off the irritation we had after the two months of pile driving, and the months and months of construction noise (which are ongoing as I type, beep beep beep beep, oh for god's sake! if your gonna idle that truck, take it out of reverse!!!)

Wow, this is the Catmull of Catmull-Rom splines (1)

Digana (1018720) | more than 3 years ago | (#34235000)

Yeah, in case anyone else thought the name was familiar [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Wow, this is the Catmull of Catmull-Rom splines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34235588)

Also: Catmull-Clark subdivision, which is the subdivision scheme used by pretty much every 3D graphics package that has a "SubD" geometry type or polygonal "smooth" operation.

Re:Wow, this is the Catmull of Catmull-Rom splines (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34238594)

He also came up with the Z-buffer [wikipedia.org] . That is the visibility algorithm used in graphic cards today.

403- Forbidden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34235716)

I'm getting a 403 on queuedev.acm.org

Here's an alternate url for the article: http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=1883592

Re:403- Forbidden (1)

artao (648799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34236904)

hey, thanks. I was getting that too, and really want to read this as Ed Catmull is like unto a god in the CG world. thx thx thx thx thx :D :D :D

Link to google cache (1)

jyro1980 (978241) | more than 3 years ago | (#34239436)

In case your IP is blocked by ACM as mine.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5hQeyIzYvqEJ:queue.acm.org/detail.cfm%3Fid%3D1883592+ed+catmull+acm&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=in

IIS Failtastical (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34250010)

You are not authorized to view this page
The Web server you are attempting to reach has a list of IP addresses that are not allowed to access the Web site, and the IP address of your browsing computer is on this list.

Please try the following:

  • Contact the Web site administrator if you believe you should be able to view this directory or page.

HTTP Error 403.6 - Forbidden: IP address of the client has been rejected.
Internet Information Services (IIS)

Technical Information (for support personnel)

  • Go to Microsoft Product Support Services [microsoft.com] and perform a title search for the words HTTP and 403.
  • Open IIS Help, which is accessible in IIS Manager (inetmgr),
      and search for topics titled About Security, Limiting Access by IP Address, IP Address Access Restrictions, and About Custom Error Messages.
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