2008 Gordon E. Sawyer Award Recipient
The Academy’s Board of Governors voted the Gordon E. Sawyer Award to Ed Catmull, a computer scientist, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, for his lifetime of technical contributions and leadership in the field of computer graphics for the motion picture industry.
“Ed is one of the rare individuals who can bridge the space between science and art,” said Academy President Sid Ganis. “His vision, ingenuity and groundbreaking designs have made the impossible possible – for filmmakers and movie audiences around the world.”
Catmull, currently president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, founded three of the leading centers of computer graphics research – the computer graphics laboratory at the New York Institute of Technology, the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd., and Pixar Animation Studios.
In 2000 Catmull, Rob Cook and Loren Carpenter received an Academy Award® of Merit (an Oscar statuette) for their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar’s “RenderMan®.” The software, which produces images used in motion pictures from 3D computer descriptions of shape and appearance, has been used in 45 of the last 50 films nominated for an Academy Award in the Visual Effects category.
Catmull previously received two Scientific and Engineering Awards: in 1992 as part of a team for the development of “RenderMan” software, and in 1995 as part of a team responsible for pioneering inventions in Digital Image Compositing. He also shared a Technical Achievement Award in 2005.
While at Lucasfilm Ltd., Catmull managed development in the areas of computer graphics, video editing, video games and digital audio.
Catmull earned Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and physics and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Utah. In 2005 the University of Utah presented him with a honorary doctoral degree in engineering.