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Special Effects Win Turing Award
News Bytes 03/23/2020 50 Comments


Ever wonder how animated movies like Toy Story and Monsters Inc. feature such realistic tree leaves or fluffy blue fur? Two graphics experts are responsible for the technology that enabled such striking special effects. The duo has won this year’s Turing Award, the tech industry’s version of the Nobel Prize.

Patrick Hanrahan and Edwin Catmull won the Turing Award for their contributions to 3-D computer graphics. Their work is still widely used in movies and video games.

Filmmaker George Lucas first hired Catmull to head the computer-technology division that became Pixar, and then Disney. Catmull asked Hanrahan to join him.

Together, the two worked on techniques that made graphics in movies like Toy Story look more lifelike, even though Hanrahan left Pixar years before the studio released that film. Catmull is the former president of Pixar. He worked there for more than three decades.

Catmull and Hanrahan’s work has as much to do with science as art. “What makes skin look like skin? What makes a tree look like a tree? You have to understand the structure of material and how light interacts with it,” Hanrahan says. “Only then is it possible to translate that understanding of how the physics of curved surfaces—our hands, our noses—works with light into the 100,000-plus frames that make up a movie.”

Hanrahan developed “RenderMan” software. That helped produce Toy Story in 1995 and then a string of Pixar films like Up, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and Wall-E. It was also the backbone of CGI special effects in live-action movies such as the Lord of the Rings films.

The Association for Computing Machinery awards the prize. Association officials say filmmakers used RenderMan software in nearly all of the last 47 movies nominated for a visual effects Academy Award.

The technology has also indirectly helped the artificial-intelligence field. Catmull and Hanrahan developed such powerful computer chips for video-game graphics—the chips could also be used to train AI systems.

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. — Romans 13:7

(A preview image for “Toy Story 4.” Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

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Most recent comments

Congrats Hanrahan and Catmull

Congrats Hanrahan and Catmull! I'm glad they are getting recognized for all their hard work.

I wonder if this kind of

I wonder if this kind of software, or something similar was used to develop games like Halo 5 and Call of Duty WWII.


I know this is kind of random but what's everyones dream job?
Mines ether a makeup artist/hairstylist, a interior designer, or a clothing designer!

adding to the last comment

also being in the movie business would be fun. I just added that so that it would somewhat go with the article

@Karis E

I want to be a scientist a teacher a author and if your including mom and wife, I'd be that too. Also interior designer! That would be awesome! I definitely want to do that for sure. ;-)

dream jobs......................................................

clothing designer, mom &wife, actress, hairstylist, pastry chef, author, interior designer, artist(or is it artistess?)
of course, not all of them at once.:-)


it sounds like a cool job to have to create and edit things on a device and make it come to life

@ Karis E.

I want to be an author and work in a library. I also want to travel.

@ Karise

I want to be a pianist, author,wife,mother, music evangelist, and go to Jimmy Swaggart bible college. I am writing a book and I play piano in church (when its open)


My dream job is probably a Marine Biologist. I also like photography.
And being a foster parent wouldn’t be bad, but I don’t really want to be a mother. Like having my “own” children.

@Nadia A

im writing a book 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
well, a ashort story,

Janna (Daniel's sister)

Cool! I don't really watch cartoony movies anymore because most of them are I hate Toy Story. But that's really cool that their doing this!

Janna (Daniel's sister)

And I want to be a paramedic, nurse in the ER, medic in the Army, FBI agent, mom, and a wife to a NFL football player....................hint hint......................jk, lol.

@beth h

Yeah i would want to be a mom to . Maybe adopt and have my own kids i don't know.


So Technically George Lucas helped create Pixar and Diseny? Cool!

id want to be a husband a dad

id want to be a husband a dad and either play football in the NFL or wrestle for the USA

@Karis E & Beth H

I'm adopted. Actually all my siblings are adopted.

I want to be a nurse or a

I want to be a nurse or a doctor or an actress. Or maybe a criminal investigator in the FBI. I also want a few kids.
Do any of you have Disney Plus? Have you seen the new Frozen? What are all of your opinions on that?
It's good that they are getting recognized for their hard work.


My dad is a paramedic firefighter.

Janna (Daniel's sister) @Emelia G

That's cool! My aunt was a paramedic for a while, but she had to stop because she kept getting car sick. Also I have a few second cousins who are firefighters.

Janna (Daniel's sister) @Emelia G

It's funny we have the same job plans.....................I would want to act in movies, but I get so nervous doing anything in front of people that I make myself sick.


Same! I get really nervous. But I feel like doing it in front if a camera and strangers would be okay.

we have disney + and the new

we have disney + and the new frozen was really good

we have disney + and the new

we have disney + and the new frozen was really good

didn't mean to press that

didn't mean to press that twice

@emilia g

being a fbi agent cia agent etc would be so fun. i should have thought of that one.

@beth h and @kiara g

yeah most of my cousins are adopted. so that kind of made me want to adopt. i want to adopt and have my own kids cuz i feel like both of those would be a unique experience.

My grandma adopted her own

My grandma adopted her own niece and nephew when they were young and they became my mothers siblings. Adoption is amazing especially if you are saving the kids from a dangerous life.

I love watching Toy Story

I love watching Toy Story and Monsters Inc. ! I'm glad they received the Turing award.

No one in my family is

No one in my family is adopted and I would like to be a doctor.

No one in my family is

No one in my family is adopted but I know a lot of kids who are. We dont watch Disney movies or Pixar movies but I see the advertisements everywhere! I think they are good at animation.

@ kiara J

My sister is adopted

@ Emilia G

Yeah. It's too embarrassing in front of people you know for some reason! I would like to be a actress, many good movies are there for a born again believer to act in?

Nadia A

I know thats the hard part.


Yeah, that's cool.
@Karis I checked out your YouTube channel!
@Emelia I don't have Disney Plus, but I've seen the new Frozen and liked it.


my family and i are about to be approved for adopting! i'm sooo exited!

@ Beth H

why don't you want to have any of your "own" kids?
i love kids and want a dozen or so. :)

dream job

i just want to be a wife and mother, and maybe a missionary too.


That’s awesome! Hope it’s goes well! Also I’m not really sure honestly it’s a lot of work for one lol. If I could just help kids who are stuck in orphanages that would be awesome!!
Are you adopting a girl or a boy?

I also really want to travel

I also really want to travel the world with my brother and sister and my best friend Ben! My sister just got out of the Marines and the brother I’m talking about is only a year older than me so we do everything together lol.

Janna (Daniel's sister) @Beth H

That's cool your sister just got out of the Marines! I knew I guy in the Marines, but he got kicked out because he did something bad (I'm pretty sure). My dad's cousin is one of the backup pilots for the Blue Angels.

42nd comment

My family is adopting but we haven't been matched, and we need a lot more funding. Dream job at the moment: Pastry chef. (I used to want to be a potter and then I wanted to be a fashion desiner or conservationist) I don't really remember Toy Story exept for the one with the purple teddy bear. And only a part of that one.:)

To Above

Yeah. I don't remember it either. Just the part where Woody runs in a bathroom? Something like that....I don't know LOL. : D

@ Beth H

thanks! we will take a boy or girl; whatever God provides!
@caro and tommy: we are pretty much at the same place.


Beth H, i hope you get to. that would be a great thing to do!

@beth h

Thanks so much! Sorry i took me so long to respond i respond on the kids youtube one too.

@Beth H&Lily S

i wanna lotta kids to, Lily


Oh really the Blue Angles are awesome!
@Caro and Tommy
Hope it goes well!
Nice! Are you adopting from the Americas or from another country? Yeah I really want to go to Australia.
Yeah! I didn't subscribe because my mom prob wouldn't want me to but I gave them likes!
Bc I want to do things, and having kids could be a problem. But maybe IF I get married than me and my husband will adopt (but when I'm older like in my forty's maybe :)

@glorianna b yeah wanna have

@glorianna b yeah wanna have a lot of kids to! How many kids do you want to have?
@beth h Thanks


Have you adopted yet???

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