12 August 2001
Guiliano, President of the New York Institute
of Technology (NYIT), joined Edwin Catmull, President of Pixar Animation
Studios, for an interview preceding the ceremony where Dr. Catmull
was to be presented with the NYIT President's Medal for Arts and
Technology. They were both most kind and informative. They illuminated
for me many points about the history of the development of Computer
Graphics (hereafter CG) and themselves.
I also met Lance Williams who will be presented by Edwin Catmull
with The Steven Anson Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions
to Computer Graphics (considered to be the highest award for CG).
Lance filled me in on several tricky points about Edwin Catmull,
and now works for Disney - but has worked for Apple, and was also
a student at the University of Utah and NYIT.
first drew you to computer graphics?
When I was a kid I wanted to be an animator. I switched over to
physics at the University of Utah in 1963 and graduated in 74 with
a Ph.D., but there was a gap of time during that when I was working.
The four years of undergraduate study earned me a double major in
physics and computer science. Then I studied at NYIT and it funded
computer animation studies, which was rare at the time. At one point
NYIT had more equipment and activity for animation and computer
graphics than the rest of the world combined. NYIT continues to
be a leader in producing industry leaders.
Do you have
any favorite CG mentors?
I had several
one was Stephen Coons, and another was Ivan Sutherland. Ivan Sutherland
was a Professor at Utah considered to be the father of computer
graphics. Stephen Coons could be considered its grandfather.
What was the
first time you contributed to SIGGRAPH?
I don't remember
the first; my first publication was back in 1973 before SIGGRAPH,
and we did like 25 papers from NYIT. Edwin Guiliano interjects:
"He was it. They were creating computer graphics. A pioneer.
He comes from West Virginia."
was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why?
I started at NYIT in '74 and the first SIGGRAPH was in '73, the
first paper was probably on animation in 2D and why it's harder
than most people think it is.
The very first
two SIGGRAPHs were not very consequential; the 3rd was in Philadelphia.
But the fourth one changed the world! It was in San Jose. Jim George
and Steve Levine ran it and took a new tack. It took a whole week
and followed today's format (where it had been only 2 days over
a weekend). People showed up for the conference and the hotel overbooked,
but it was business art and education and science (technology) all
in one place, and that combination was extremely exciting.
to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of?
I've written several
papers that have had some impact, they included papers on Texture
Mapping, Motion Blur, Z buffers, and architecture for the renderer
(RenderMan) they use in the movie industry. And winning the Coons
favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH?
Honestly, it's the chance to reconvene with my peers and colleagues,
which is actually my favorite thing. One of the best things about
SIGGRAPH is that it's vital and it changes each year. This year
the significant new researcher award is new, and I'm the chair of
the awards committee. And Lance Williams was also at NYIT for some
years, and I will present him the Coons. Jim Blinn also spent some
time at NYIT (as an intern).
NYIT was an amazing
time; we had more equipment than the rest of the world combined;
the foundations for computer animation were laid there. And several
of the people of Pixar went there. On November 2nd "Monsters
Inc" is coming out.
NYIT was heavily
involved in the early SIGGRAPHS, and this year there are 25 people
including the chair of the conference (and that's a big job) from
NYIT. We were here at the beginning and we are still here. We are
a prime source of talent to the industry.