UB IWERKS AWARD For technical advancements that make a significant impact on the art or industry of animation.
One of the genuine pioneers of computer generated imagery, Dr. Jim Blinn was still a teenager when he made his first computer pictures in 1968 – decades before most people ever had contact with any kind of computer. During the 1970s his research in computer rendering led to techniques that today are standard animation tools, including lighting modeling, environment and reflection mapping, and bump mapping. While working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, he created computer animations depicting various planetary space missions which were broadcast on news programs, introducing viewers to the concept of digital animation. He went on to produce the animation for the noted PBS series Cosmos, with Carl Sagan, and also the Annenberg/CPB funded The Mechanical Universe, a telecourse shown in colleges nationwide, which he considers his finest achievement. Through these programs he developed even more CG techniques which have become standard, such as cloud simulation. Jim continued to develop computer graphics techniques through his twenty-five year tenure with Microsoft Research. Three volumes of selections from his column Jim Blinn’s Corner have seen publication, and he is the creator of Blinn’s Law, which postulates that rendering time remains constant, despite the increasing speed of the computer. In 1999 Jim was awarded the Coons Award for Lifetime Achievement in Computer Graphics at SIGGRAPH. While Jim Blinn officially retired in 2009, his work, discoveries, and developments will remain a lynchpin of computer generated imagery forever.