SIGGRAPH 1985 Computer Graphics Achievement Award: Carpenter

  • ©1985, Loren C. Carpenter



    Computer Graphics Achievement Award


    Loren Carpenter is a pioneer in the design of algorithms for generating raster computer graphics; his recent images approach photographic realism. He received his Master’s degree from the University of Washington in 1976, and worked for the Boeing Company from 1966 through 1980. He is now a senior scientist in the Computer Graphics Group at Lucasfilm.

    His early work concerned hidden surfaces, most notably joint work with Jeffrey Lane on adaptively subdividing parametrically defined surfaces into approximating polygons.

    In 1980, simultaneously with (but independently of) Alain Fournier and Don Fussell, he applied Benoit Mandelbrot’s ideas of fractals to generate images of complex natural terrain by recursively subdividing triangles from a small data base. His beautiful computer animated film “Vol Libre” popularized fractals and inspired much further work in computer imagery.

    More recently, Carpenter has invented the “Abuffer,” an enhanced version of the standard Zbuffer with which he produced antialiased images by accounting for sub-pixel areas. Jointly with Rob Cook and Tom Porter, he proposed a method of “distributed ray tracing” that simultaneously solved most of the outstanding problems in computer graphics realism: motion blur, shadow penumbras, glossy and translucent surfaces, and depth-of-field effects. Both of these algorithms have been used at Lucasfilm to produce animated sequences; Carpenter is currently consulting on the design of high-performance hardware implementations of them.


    ACM SIGGRAPH Citation