ACM SIGGRAPH will present its 2009 Steven Anson Coons Outstanding Service Award on Monday (August 3, 2009) to Rob Cook for his pioneering technical contributions to generating computer synthesized images. Cook, Vice President of Advanced Technology for Pixar Animation Studios, is the original author and co-architect of RenderMan, the software recognized as the industry standard for computer graphics feature animation and visual effects rendering.
RenderMan has been used in every movie nominated for a Visual Effects Oscar in the last 15 years. Cook was also cited for enduring work on behalf of the SIGGRAPH community. Cook will receive the award at SIGGRAPH 2009, August 3-7, at Ernest Morial Convention Center, New Orleans.
Working in the mid 1980s at Lucasfilm's Computer Graphics Research Group, which is now Pixar, Cook also invented programmable shading, which enables artists to give surfaces a rich, realistic appearance. This technique is a crucial part of game engines and graphics processing units printed circuit boards. Cook also pioneered Monte Carlo rendering, an essential element for simulating camera effects such as depth of field, motion blur, and soft shadows. These techniques, which are incorporated in RenderMan, have catapulted visual effects applications from a few genres to common use in mainstream movies.
Prior to joining Pixar, Cook was a student of Donald Greenberg at the Cornell University Program of Computer Graphics. He earned a B.S. degree in physics from Duke University and M.S. degree in computer graphics from Cornell. He was given the ACM SIGGRAPH Achievement Award in 1987 in recognition of his contributions to the fields of computer graphics and visual effects. A 2001 Fellow of ACM, Cook won the first Oscar ever presented for software, honoring "significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's RenderMan." In 2009, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
The Steven Anson Coons award is given in odd-numbered years to individuals for their lifetime contributions to computer graphics and interactive techniques. The award is named for Steven A. Coons, an early pioneer in the field of computer graphical methods, who envisioned interactive computer graphics as a design tool to aid engineers.