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Pixar Memories: ‘Toy Story’ to ‘WALL-E’

Dec. 1, 2008 – Edwin E. Catmull, president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, will discuss his experiences making animated films such as “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “WALL-E” at the University of Utah at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 8, 2008.

Catmull will talk about “The Creative Process and Risk – Ten Films Later and We are Still Trying to Figure it Out” during the School of Computing’s 2008 Organick Memorial Lecture.

“We’re pleased to invite Dr. Catmull back to discuss his work as head of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. As one of the first to work in computer-generated imagery, Dr. Catmull has been one of the great pioneering leaders in developing and applying computer graphics to animation,” says Martin Berzins, director of the School of Computing. 

The public and news media are invited to attend the Dec. 8 event, which is free, and will run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. MST in room 104 on the lower level of the Warnock Engineering Building at 72 S. Central Campus Drive. A reception will follow the talk.

A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, Catmull was co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios before it was acquired by Disney. He earned B.S. degrees in computer science and physics and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Utah.

Catmull is noted for his seminal work in computer modeling, animation and rendering and is an architect of the RenderMan software product used to create animated films such as “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.” In 1974, while studying physics and computer science at the University of Utah, his pioneering animation of a human hand was incorporated into the first movie to use 3-D computer graphics. His research has led to various key discoveries in computer graphics.

His honors include three Scientific and Technical Engineering Awards, including an Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the Steven A. Coons Award, the highest achievement award in computer graphics, received in 1993 for his lifetime contributions to the field; the Progress Medal and the Fuji Gold Medal from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers; the animation industry’s Ub Iwerks Award for technical advancements in animation; and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ John von Neumann Medal for fundamental contributions to computer graphics and pioneering use of computer animation in motion pictures.

Catmull chairs the University of Utah Engineering National Advisory Council. “Dr. Catmull has made many important contributions to the field of computer science and has had great impact for good on the entertainment industry,” says Richard Brown, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are proud that he would continue to be so involved with his alma mater.”

The lecture series honors the late Professor Elliott I. Organick, pioneering computer science faculty at the University of Utah, who helped shape the department’s academic and research programs in computer science.

For more information, please visit:

Pixar Animation Studios: http://www.pixar.com/
Organick Lecture: http://www.cs.utah.edu/organick/2008-09/
University of Utah College of Engineering: http://www.coe.utah.edu/