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Creating RenderMan®: Pixar’s Impact on Computer Graphics is Recognized with an IEEE Milestone

Creating RenderMan®: Pixar’s Impact on Computer Graphics is Recognized with an IEEE Milestone

Date/Time: Fri, 8 Dec, 10am-Noon, 1-4pm PST (Livestreamed on IEEE.tv)

Featured speakers: Tom Porter, Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, Loren Carpenter, Rob Cook, Pat Hanrahan, Tony Apodaca, Darwyn Peachey, Steve May, Jim Lawson. Speaker details can be found here.

This event (nearly 5 hours) is available below or exclusively via this recording on IEEE.tv.

The Pixar website describes this IEEE Milestone dedication event, and this is the IEEE website for this Milestone.

This presentation will tell the origin story behind RenderMan®, the software that has revolutionized computer graphics since the mid-1980s. It has been used in every Pixar movie, and also for the special effects seen in movies, TV, and on streaming services, as well as for the content recognized with every Visual Effects Oscar® for 17 straight years.

During the morning session, you will hear from the early pioneers who created RenderMan® at Pixar, some of whom have personally received Oscar®s for their work – including the first one given for software. The morning will conclude with the unveiling of an IEEE Milestone bronze plaque that recognizes the huge impact of RenderMan® on the world of special effects, and whose impact is now seen worldwide on a daily basis. Officiating for this unveiling will be IEEE President-Elect Tom Coughlin and IEEE History Committee member Brian Berg.

The afternoon session will present The Technology of RenderMan®, and will include personal recollections of Pixar and the “coming of age” of this important software.

The title of the Milestone is The Development of RenderMan® for Photorealistic Graphics, 1981-1988, and the citation on its bronze plaque reads:

RenderMan® software revolutionized photorealistic rendering, significantly advancing the creation of 3D computer animation and visual effects. Starting in 1981, key inventions during its development at Lucasfilm and Pixar included shading languages, stochastic antialiasing, and simulation of motion blur, depth of field, and penumbras. RenderMan®’s broad film industry adoption following its 1988 introduction led to numerous Oscar®s for Best Visual Effects, and an Academy Award of Merit Oscar® for its developers.

This event will be broadcast live from the Steve Jobs Theater at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, CA. The RenderMan® bronze plaque will be mounted by the entrance to Pixar’s campus. This plaque will be next to a copy of the Milestone plaque that was dedicated at the University of Utah in March 2023.



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