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U of U Alumnus and Father of Modern Movie Animation to Receive IEEE Medal

June 14, 2006-Dr. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, and University of Utah alumnus, has been named recipient of the 2006 IEEE John von Neumann Medal for his groundbreaking contributions to special effects that have revolutionized the creation of live-action and animated motion pictures. The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology.

Sponsored by IBM Corporation, the medal will be presented to Catmull at the IEEE Honors Ceremony on Saturday, June 24 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It honors him for fundamental contributions to computer graphics and his pioneering role in the use of computer animation in motion pictures.

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 3D computer graphics. His research led him to four key computer graphics discoveries – Z-buffering, texture mapping, subdivision surface, and the fast rendering of bicubic patches.

Catmull has received significant recognition for his work. These honors include an Oscar® from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Steven A. Coons Award, the highest achievement award in computer graphics, which he received in 1993 for his lifetime contributions to the field.

Prior to Pixar, Catmull was vice president of the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd. He is a member of the IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Catmull has bachelor”s degrees in physics and computer science and doctoral degrees in computer science and engineering, all from the University of Utah.

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) is the world’s largest technical professional society. Through its 365,000 members in 150 countries, the society is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 900 active industry standards. The organization also sponsors or co-sponsors more than 300 international technical conferences each year.