UW CSE Alumnus and Pixar Co-Founder Loren Carpenter

Loren Carpenter received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Washington in 1974, and in 1976 went on to earn a Masters degree from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering under the direction of Professor Alan Shaw. Co-founder and Chief Scientist of Pixar, Loren is an internationally acclaimed pioneer in the field of computer graphics. He is the author of numerous fundamental papers in computer image synthesis and display algorithms. He holds several patents both personally and through Pixar, and his technical awards include the third SIGGRAPH Technical Achievement Award in 1985, and an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement in 1992 recognizing the contributions of his RenderMan software to the film industry.

From 1966 to 1980 Loren was employed by The Boeing Company in a variety of capacities. While there, he advanced the state of the art in image synthesis with now-standard algorithms for synthesizing images of sculpted surfaces, and for fractal geometry. His 1980 film Vol Libre, the world's first fractal movie, earned widespread acclaim.

Loren's revolutionary work with fractals, along with his other technical expertise, landed him a job with Lucasfilm's Computer Division in 1981. He recreated the fractal mountains used in Vol Libre as part of the Genesis Demo for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The sequence was so spectacular that it was used in the next three Star Trek movies. Another of his inventions, the A-buffer hidden surface algorithm, was used in the sequence to create the first high-complexity anti-aliased images for motion picture animation.

In 1986, Lucasfilm's Computer Division spun off to form its own business, Pixar. Loren became Chief Scientist for the company, a title he still holds today as he solves vital problems necessary to completing a sequence of computer animated feature length motion pictures with the support of Disney. Pixar's Tin Toy won an Academy Award for best animated short in 1989 -- the first computer animated film to be honored with an Academy Award. In 1993, Loren himself received a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for his fundamental contributions to the motion picture industry through the invention and development of the RenderMan image synthesis software system. RenderMan has been used by many, many films, including use by Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic to render the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

Loren's innovation continues apace. He has recently patented a new interactive entertainment system which, through the use of simple retroreflectors, allows large audiences to play a variety of games together either as competing teams or unified toward a common goal, such as flying a plane. A variety of wildly enthusiastic audiences have shown that many types of people find this new method of communicating fun and exciting. Concurrently with his leadership of Pixar, Loren and his wife Rachel founded Cinematrix to explore the intersection of computers and art. Currently Cinematrix's Interactive Entertainment Systems division is focusing on the development of an interactive audience participation technology that enables thousands of people to simultaneously communicate with a computer, making possible an entire new class of human-computer interaction. In 1995, Loren was named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, and the UW College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus.

Loren Carpenter combines brilliant technical innovation with outstanding aesthetic taste and humanism.