Robert Abel & Associates


Robert Abel & Associates was founded in 1971 by Bob Abel, with his friend and collaborator Con Pederson. Able had done early film work with Saul Bass and camera work with John Whitney. After touring with several rock bands documenting the concerts, Abel joined Pederson to adapt the camera system used for 2001 to general film effects work. Early expertise was in multiple stop motion photography rigs and special film effects layouts. At one point Abel & Associates employed nine horizontal motion control tracks, several 360 degree motion-controlled boom arms, optical printers front and rear projection systems, and vector and raster graphics systems. Abel did early innovative work in vector graphics, including famous spots for 7-Up and Levis. Abel was one of four companies (III, Digital Effects and MAGI) contracted to do graphics for the Disney movie Tron in 1982, after Disney worked with Abel for promotional materials and the opening sequence to The Black Hole. He later got heavy into raster graphics with software developed by Bill Kovacs, Roy Hall and others through a division called Abel Image Research.

The Abel raster software was later developed into the Wavefront Technologies product when Bill Kovacs purchased the rights to it in 1987. Key Abel raster work included a short demo film entitled High Fidelity, ads for Benson and Hedges and TRW, the Sexy Robot (after Fritz Lang's 1926 robot in Metropolis?) ad titled Brilliance, and the opening sequence for Spielberg's Amazing Stories television show. Abel garnered multiple Clio awards and had arguably the finest collection of art directors in the industry. Their strength was in the ability to bring the knowledge of traditional effects work, cinematography and film making to the area of CGI. Abel was acquired in October, 1986 by John Pennie of Omnibus Computer Graphics of Canada for $8.5 million.

In 1987, Omnibus defaulted on investments and closed Abel, DP and Omnibus on March 27, 1987. Many former Abel animators and directors were instrumental in starting or working for high quality CGI companies, including Rhythm and Hues, Metrolight, Sony Imageworks, Santa Barbera Studios, Boss Films, Kroyer Films, deGraf/Wahrmann, etc. Abel went on to be an Apple Fellow, and now is with his own company, Synapse Technologies, and is currently producing two interactive multimedia projects for IBM, "Evolution" and "Revolution," as well as a project about flight for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He also is affiliated with the Center for the Digital Arts at UCLA. (Note: Bob Abel passed away in September 2001)

Equipment included DEC Vax, Gould and SGI computers, Evans & Sutherland vector devices, Raster Tech frame buffers and proprietary film and recording equipment.

See DigitalOmnibusAbel list of former employees at


Bob Abel and Bill Kovacs

Bill Kovacs in 1981

Making the 7-Up commercial

Short sequence from an Abel produced 7-Up advertisement

Frame from Levis commercial

Frames from AT&T commercial

Frames from Philips commercial

Frame from Tron

Frame from Tron

Frame from simulation of proposed stadium

Frame from early vector animation demo - paper airplane

Short sequence from the paper airplane animation

Sexy Robot from the Brilliance commercial

Frame from High Fidelity

Frame from early TRW commercial

Tron site

Tron overview


Name Came from Went to Comments
Bob Abel UCLA Synapse Technologies, UCLA CDA Passed away 9/2001
Con Pederson UCLA CCP -Metrolight  
Richard Taylor   Apogee, Image Point  
Bill Kovacs   Wavefront  
Ron Saks UCLA Universal Studios - CCP  
Larry Cuba      
John Whitney, Jr.   III, DP, Whitney-Demos  
Brad DeGraf   DeGraf/Wahrman  
Michael Wahrman   DeGraf/Wahrman  
Gary Demos   III, DP, Whitney-Demos  
Roy Hall Cornell Cornell  
John Hughes   Rhythm & Hues  
Tim McGovern   CCP - Metrolight  
Randy Roberts   Rhythm & Hues  
Richard "Doc" Baily   CCP, Planet Blue  
Steve Beck   Digital Domain  
Frank Vitz      
Kenny Mirman      
Neil Eskuri   CCP, Disney  
Michael Rivero Hanna Barbera Home Baked Entertainment  
Allen DeBevoise      
Al Dinoble   Metrolight  
Roger Wilson      
Pauline T'so   Rhythm & Hues  
Keith Goldfarb   Rhythm & Hues  
Karry Colonna UCLA Rhythm & Hues  
Mario Kamberg      
Nancy St. John      
John Grower   Santa Barbara Studios Developed Dynamation for Wavefront
Charles Gibson   Rhythm & Hues  
Jim Rygiel   Boss  
Art Durinski      
Sherry McKenna      
Michael Limber      
Neil Richmond      
Steve Wright   Sidley/Wright, Cineon  
Steve Sidley   Sidley/Wright  
Joan Collins