A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Making Movies at Pixar

Rob Cook
Pixar Animation Studios

Tuesday, January 17, 2005 11:00 A.M.
Room 1221
719 Broadway
New York, NY

Directions: http://cs.nyu.edu/csweb/Location/directions.html
Colloquium Information: http://cs.nyu.edu/csweb/Calendar/colloquium/index.html


Ken Perlin perlin@cs.nyu.edu, (212) 998-3386br>


Rob Cook takes you behind the scenes at Pixar for an in-depth look at how its 3d computer graphics films are made. Making a computer animate film involves people with artistic talent and people with technical skills working together in close collaboration. The process starts with the development of the story and continues with modeling the geometry, adding articulation controls, using those controls to animate the characters, simulating things like water and cloth and hair, defining the look of the surfaces, putting lights in the scene, adding special effects, rendering, and post-production. Special emphasis is given to the roles of technology and computer graphics research in supporting the filmmaker.


Rob Cook has a B.S. in Physics from Duke University and an M.S. in Computer Graphics from Cornell University. At Cornell, he and Ken Torrance developed a physically based model of light-surface interaction that could realistically simulate color and shading; prior to this work, computer-generated images had been limited to a distinctly plastic look. In 1981, he joined Lucasfilm / Pixar where he extended this work and developed the first programmable shader for simulating complex surface appearances.

He was the first to apply Monte Carlo techniques to rendering.

Together with colleagues at Lucasfilm, he solved several of the thorniest long-standing problems in computer graphics: antialiasing point sampling and ray-tracing, simulating camera effects such as motion blur and depth of field, and rendering soft shadows, glossy reflections and translucency. Motion blur and depth of field proved particularly important in the special effects industry, because they allow computer-generated imagery to match the live-action footage with which they are combined. In 1987, he received the ACM Siggraph Achievement Award in recognition of these contributions.

Rob was the co-architect and primary author of Pixar's RenderMan software, which is acknowledged as the industry standard for photo- realistic rendering. Of the last 41 films nominated for Visual Effects Oscars, 39 have used RenderMan. In 2001 he and two colleagues received the first Oscar ever given for software. He is currently the Vice President of Technology at Pixar.

top | contact webmaster@cs.nyu.edu