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Attaining The Third Dimension

2019 ACM A.M. Turing Award recipients Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan

Credit: Richard Morgenstein

Three-dimensional (3D) computer imagery is now central to the global film industry, not to mention games, design, and the emerging fields of virtual and augmented reality. But when ACM A.M. Turing Award recipients Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan began working together at Pixar, the goal of being able to produce truly realistic images on a computer seemed remote. Here, Ed and Pat discuss what it took to overcome the challenge—and how their work on Pixar's pioneering image system, RenderMan, came about.

Pixar was formed in 1986, when Steve Jobs helped spin off the computer division from Lucasfilm, where Ed had been working since 1979. Pat, you joined shortly thereafter.


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