By June 13, 2016 Read More →

Sigggraph Pioneers Reception to feature Alvy Ray Smith

The Pixar co-founder’s contributions to computer graphics include digital painting and sprites. 

One of the most influential scientists in computer graphics history will be guest speaker at the 2016 Siggraph Pioneers Reception, July 26 in Anaheim, California. Alvy Ray Smith pioneered numerous advances in computer graphics including one of the first digital paint systems, the alpha channel, and digital sprites.  

Alvy Ray Smith

Alvy Ray Smith

At this year’s Siggraph Pioneer’s Reception, Smith will present a visual report on his insights for the future of computer graphics, including advancements in artificial intelligence and the continuing windfall for the field of computer graphics due to the ongoing advances of Moore’s Law.

Smith is perhaps best known as the co-founder of Pixar. But his career spans many of the most influential labs and achievements in computer graphics, including development of the first paint system with Richard Shoup at Xerox PARC (1974); Superpaint, the first 24bit paint system at NYIT; and CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) the hardware/software system that Pixar created on contract with Disney that revolutionized its 2D cell animation pipeline. In 1998, he received a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award for pioneering efforts in the development of digital paint systems used in motion picture production. The “Genesis Demo” scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was created by a team led by Smith, and is considered one of the iconic moments of early computer-generated special effects.

A composite scene assembled from elements used to create the famous “Genesis Demo” scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (Source: Alvy Ray Smith)

A composite scene assembled from elements used to create the famous “Genesis Demo” scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (Source: Alvy Ray Smith)

In his agreement to take on the annual speaker spot, Smith recalls, “Marvin Minsky’s recent death caused me a much longer pause than most; he has gone in and out of my life in important ways for decades. It’s partly from the impact that I felt inspired to re-confront our pursuit of Artificial Intelligence in a world that has come to live by Moore’s Law and offer my take on its current status and possible future.”

The 2016 Siggraph Pioneers Reception will be Tuesday, July 26th, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel, near the Anaheim Convention Center. Light appetizers will be served, and drinks will be available. The reception is exclusive to active members of the ACM Siggraph Computer Graphics Pioneers Group. In addition, the Los Angeles Siggraph chapter is specially inviting Siggraph pioneers to join their 30th anniversary of the NY/LA Siggraph chapter party that will begin after the pioneer reception concludes.

Any person with 20 years of experience of more, in some aspect of computer graphics and/or interactive techniques is eligible to become a member of Siggraph Pioneers. The cost for a non-ACM Siggraph member to become an ACM Siggraph CG Pioneer is $47, which includes ACM Siggraph membership. New members can join online. The cost to upgrade an existing ACM Siggraph membership to Pioneer level is $5, and can be done by calling ACM Help at 1-800-342-6626 or by emailing


Posted in: News Watch, Siggraph

About the Author:

Randall S. Newton is the former Managing Editor of GraphicSpeak. He has been writing about engineering and design technologies for more than 25 years.

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