The Steven Anson Coons Award
By Hal Newnan
12 August 2001
The Steven Anson Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions
to Computer Graphics (considered to be the highest award for CG)
is being presented to Lance Williams by Ed. Catmull this year. Mr. Williams was interviewed at the reception for the NYIT President's Medal Award.
drew you to computer graphics?
I may be the last
recipient of this award to have actually known Steve Coons. He was
a powerhouse of visualization and visual thinking, a pioneer and
innovator, with a warmth and gift for communication envied by his
students. He was a remarkable person, and his memory makes this
award very special to me. [Steve Coons began expressing surfaces
mathematically at M.I.T. His greatest impact was in CAD -- industrial
design -- but he was a great enthusiast of classical graphical techniques
and graphic design, while always endeavoring to frame their use
in GC on rigorous technical foundations.]
Do you have
any favorite CG mentors?
My mentors in
computer graphics were Jef Raskin (who went on to design the Macintosh
at Apple), Robert Haralick (an image-processing expert who gave
me my first employment in the graphics field). At the University
of Utah, Ed Catmull was a mentor to Jim Clark and me (who founded
SGI and Netscape).
drew you to computer graphics?
I attended the
world Science Fiction Convention in 1969, and saw work by John Whitney
(Sr. and Jr.) and Jordan Belson.
What was the
first time you contributed to SIGGRAPH?
"Casting Curved Shadows in Curved Surfaces" in 1978.
was your first SIGGRAPH? Which was most intense? Why?
My first SIGGRAPH
was in 1978. My most intense SIGGRAPH was probably 1984, when NYIT
closed the Electronic Theater with the "Works" trailer
to an enthusiastic ovation.
to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of?
Depth buffer shadows,
in 1978; "MIP" mapping, 1983; the "Works" trailer;
the animated reflection map in "Interface" (Electronic
Theater, 1986); and, image-based rendering 1993 (see side bar).
favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH?
Last year, "Image
developments in CG do you look forward to?
Animation of photorealistic
humans is near. Externalizing mental imagery (turning brain scans
into images) is an exciting intermediate-term possibility.
What, in your
opinion, accounts for the significance and influence of the SIGGRAPH
This conference has historically had an emphasis on bleeding-edge
research and development. This has been reported in the technical
program; also displayed by a comprehensive collection of vendors
of the latest technology, in the equipment show. It has also shown
off a representative sampling of the use of computer graphics in
media and the fine arts in the Art Show and Electronic Theater.
All of which have combined to make the SIGGRAPH conference indispensable
to practitioners of the art, and stimulating and thought-provoking
to the general public.
"The Works"; worked on, "Lensman," "Lawnmower
Man," "Habitat," "Prince of Egypt," and
"The Road to El Dorado."]
"I am really
enthusiastic about this, if you love this you'll have a great time
here." -Lance Williams