Pixar Animation Studios
The computer division of Lucasfilms was reorganized in 1983 to become Pixar and a games division. It focused on software development, but also designed and developed hardware in house. The Pixar Image Computer, which was intended for the high-end visualization markets, such as medicine was eventually sold to Vicom for $2M. The commercial group worked in the advertising area, and it was discontinued in 1995. Pixar was purchased by Steve Jobs from Lucasfilm in 1986 when George Lucas decided to focus his corporate efforts. As part of the deal, Lucasfilm retained rights to access to the Pixar technology. Pixar became well known for a series of short film productions, including Luxo Jr. (1986), Red's Dream (1987), Tin Toy (1988), KnickKnack (1989) and Geri's Game (1997).
Software created by Pixar includes REYES (Renders Everything You Ever Saw,) CAPS (with Disney), Marionette, an animation software system that allows animators to model and animate characters and add lighting effects, and Ringmaster, which is production management software that schedules, coordinates, and tracks a computer animation project. The applications development group worked to convert the REYES technology to the RenderMan product, which was commercialized in 1989. It received Academy Technical Awards in 1992 for CAPS,1993 for RenderMan, 1995 for digital scanning technology, 1997 for Marionette and digital painting, and 1999 for laser film recording technology. Steve Jobs discontinued the applications development effort in 1991 because of a fear of competition with the NeXT product development efforts. As a result, nearly 30 people were laid off, including Alvy Ray Smith, who founded Altamira with support from Autodesk.
In 1995 Pixar went public with an offering of 6,900,000 shares of stock. After successes with Toy Story, the interactive group developed two CD-ROMs, but were refocused in 1997 in order to concentrate the corporate effort on making films. Pixar signed an agreement in 1991 to develop 3 motion pictures with Disney, and in 1997 the two organizations announced a 5 picture agreement, inclusing a sequel to Toy Story. Pixar won Oscars for Tin Toy in 1988 (Luxo Jr. was nominated in 1986) and Geri's Game in 1998, and has one several Academy Technical Achievement awards, Golden Globes, and Clios, and has a number of U.S. patents for their technology. Pixar produced the1998 animated feature A Bug's Life, which has already set box office records, and has just released Toy Story 2. Their next film is Monsters, Inc. to be released in 2002. The film recording technology mastered by hardware guru David DeFrancisco is being incorporated into a revolutionary new laser film recorder called PixarVision.
Road to Pt. Reyes
Particle system bush from the image Road to Pt. Reyes
Image sequence from the Genesis Effect in Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan
Image from the Genesis Effect in Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan
George Lucas Discovers Computer Graphics - an article by Alvy Ray Smith (PDF)
Frame from Andre and Wally B
Motion blur effect
Image from Luxo Jr.
Image from Red's Dream
Image from Tin Toy
Image from Knick Knack
Characters from Toy Story
Image from Toy Story
Images from Geri's Game
Computer Graphics World article on Geri's Game
Image from A Bug's Life
Clips from A Bug's Life (Streaming Video)
Trailer for Toy Story 2
A description of the Emeryville HQ of Pixar
|Name||Came from||Went to||Comments|
|Ed Catmull||Utah - NYIT|
|Alvy Ray Smith||NYIT|
|Pat Hanrahan||NYIT||Princeton; Stanford||architect of RenderMan Interface|
|Flip Phillips||Ohio State|
|Dave Haumann||Ohio State|
|Tony DeRose||U of Washington|
|Steve May||Ohio State|
|Mark Fontana||Ohio State|