eTech & Art & More

Lance Williams, Winner of
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.

What first 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).

What first 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?

I contributed, "Casting Curved Shadows in Curved Surfaces" in 1978.

What year/city 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.

What contributions 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).

What's your favorite thing at this year or last year's SIGGRAPH?

Last year, "Image Inpainting."

What near/intermediate 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 conference?

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.

[Lance authored "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

What does MIP in MIP Mapping mean?

MIP stands for the Latin multim im parvo, meaning "many things in a small space."

Shenchang Eric Chen and Lance Williams. View interpolation for image synthesis. SIGGRAPH 93

That a little before most IBR work. This paper is cited in 41 other papers!


This page is maintained by YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh All photos you see in the 2001 reports are due to a generous loan of Cybershot digital cameras from SONY