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Software Development Goes to the Movies


Movies Get Softer

It's just a movie, Ingrid.

—Alfred Hitchcock

In the past 30 years, software developers have changed how movies are made. Some notable examples:

  • Mark Leather, currently working at AMD, worked on the crew for Pixar's 1988 Tin Toy. He developed LayerPaint back in the '80s for Pixar, which was used for film production by LucasFilm, and helped come up with a breakthrough software technique for movie retouching in the '90s.
  • Jim Hourihan and Cary Phillips have been repeatedly honored for their work in developing ILM's Creature Dynamics System, which "makes hair, clothing, skin, flesh, and muscle simulation both directable and integrated within a character animation and rigging environment."
  • In the late '80s, the Disney Computer Animated Production System (CAPS), developed with Pixar, changed how animation was done. It was used to make The Rescuers Down Under the first 100-percent digital feature film.
  • The first nonlinear video editing system, the Avid/1, was released to the public in 1989 and quickly began to replace the Moviola and other editing tools.

But this list is getting us nowhere. These are almost random selections from a list too long to attempt, a list that would include Renderman, Maya, and many other software advances.


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