The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Nobody sends 3D renderings in the mail anymore

I’m reading Michael Rubin’s Droidmaker, a history of Lucasfilm’s work with computer graphics and computer-assisted editing, and really, a big chunk of Bay Area history I didn’t know much about. (The book’s first section was particularly interesting. It’s largely pre-Star Wars, and Francis Ford Coppola looms large in the SF filmmaking scene.)

Here’s a detail that made me smile. I love a good you’ve-got-to-hire-me story:

Sometimes it seemed as if everyone in the computer industry wanted a job with the Lucasfilm researchers. The small team were sent resumes constantly. As soon as he was situated at Bank Street, [Alvy Ray Smith] began receiving “love notes” from a scientist at Boeing. The term “notes” was perhaps misleading. Someone was sending Alvy 8×10 prints of a mountainscape…

…almost certainly of digital origin, with no explanation. These images caught his eye. He had never seen a computer-generated mountain look so detailed, and although it was likely the result of an application of mathematician Bernard Mandelbrot’s new ideas, neither he nor [Ed Catmull] was sure how it had been done or who had done it.

In time they understood that the pictures came from someone making a presentation at that fall’s Siggraph conference in Seattle. They both made a mental note to find out more about him. Alvy pinned one of the photos to the wall.

The Siggraph presentation—set to a Beatles song—was the two-minute short Vol Libre, an insta-classic in the history of computer graphics. The Boeing scientist, Loren Carpenter, went on to join Lucasfilm and co-found Pixar.

One comment

I thought you’d want to be the first to hear that Droidmaker will be released next month on Kindle, Nook and iBook. It’s a great format for a book like this!

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