Animation powerhouse Pixar grabs attention yet again. With two Pixar founders, Pat Hanrahan and Ed Catmull winning the 2019 ACM AM Turing Award, Pixar has proved to be the pioneers of 3D animation. Catmull, a computer scientist and former president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, and Hanrahan, a founding employee at Pixar, have both been recognised for fundamentally influencing the field of computer graphics.
Catmull did a PhD in Computer Science that was focused on getting rid of the jagged edges that were then a part of all computer graphics, because they used polygons, defined mathematically, to build up images. He also founded the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) Computer Graphics Lab which was one of the very first labs that were dedicated to computer graphics.
Hanrahan was one of Catmull’s first hires. Hanrahan worked at the NYIT Computer Graphics Lab that Catmull founded and he became the lead on a new graphics system that would allow the new curved surfaces to be given realistic properties, reflecting different textures and accounting for different lighting.
Pixar’s Toy Story, released in 1995, was Hollywood’s first fully computer-animated film and is the inspiration for the dozens of animated movies that have since followed — none of which would have been possible without the work of Catmull and Hanrahan, who will share the $1 million prize.
Their work has not just influenced animated movies, but also Hollywood special effects, virtual reality and video games.