David Coons

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David B. Coons
David Coons (12 August 2008).jpg
Born16 May 1960
Pomona, California
Occupationfine-arts scanner, computer-graphics guru, filmmaker, "mad scientist", nudist

David B. Coons is a computer graphics professional and longtime CGI expert.


David B. Coons was born in 1960, and grew up in Santa Monica, California. He attended Santa Monica High School while living in a highly unconventional family arrangement: he alternated between his uncle's apartment (where he actually had a bedroom) and his father's apartment (which was his sister's official residence), several blocks away. During his high school years he was a member of the "Olive Starlight Orchestra" (not an orchestra at all, but rather a social circle akin to Virginia Woolf's Bloomsbury Group), that included other legal, creative, mathematical and scientific luminaries such as Kate Sanford], David Eadington, Eric Enderton, Greg Turk, Sandra Tsing Loh, Susan P. Crawford, and entrepreneur Christophe Pettus (founder of the company Blowfish). His did some work on films including a vampire movie entitled Murder in Vein and a short called The Juggler, which starred Keith Goldfarb. In November 2013 he married Nathalie Coons, a Dominican doctor. He has two daughters: Sonya Natasha and Dana Leah.

At the main SIGGRAPH Convention every year, Coons can be identified by the job description on his badge, which invariably reads "Mad Scientist".[citation needed]

Scanning and computer graphics[edit]

Active in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Coons works behind the scenes in the film and computer graphics industries. He is also the president and owner of ArtScans Studio in Culver City, California, where he uses a scanner of his own invention to serve a clientele of celebrity artists and fine artists. The ArtScans page describes the scanner this way: "ArtScans has been doing accurate color capture for reproduction since 1992. We own and operate a large (44" x 50") flatbed scanner that is the only one of its kind in the world. Both the scanner and its software were designed by us."[1]

Keith Goldfarb (co-founder of Rhythm and Hues Studios, a computer-graphics studio that works on major motion pictures—Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004),[2]—as well as high-end commercials, has called him "the most knowledgeable person about scanning on this planet."[3]

Digital printing[edit]

David Coons was also a pioneer in the art of digital printing reproduction of scanned and computer generated artwork, specifically adapting the large format IRIS printer, a machine designed to work solely with proprietary prepress computer systems, to this task.[4] In the late 1980s Coons developed software to use an IRIS 3024 at The Walt Disney Company to print images from Disney’s new Computer Animation Production System. He also wrote software to print works created on desktop computers such as Sally Larsen 1989 Transformer series and a 1990 photography exhibition for Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The work he did for Nash had to do with re-creating images for prints and negatives had been lost by scanning the remaining contact prints at high resolution, and printing them in extremely large format.[5]

Coons went on to become a business partner with Nash, helping found the Manhattan Beach, California, company Nash Editions, a fine art digital reproduction company based on a $126,000 IRIS printer Nash had purchased.[6] There Coons worked on the many technical problems with scanning and adapting the IRIS printer to fine art printing, including modifying the machines to take heavy paper stock and dealing with the poor fade resistant (fugitive) nature of the inks.[7]

In the mid-1990s, Coons split off from Nash Editions to concentrate on scanning, while Nash's team continued to work on fine art printing. The two companies still share a close relationship, and refer clients to one another.[8]

Film production[edit]

Coons's Academy Award is for design and development of the Computer Animation Production System production system for film animation; as a technical Oscar, it is shared with the rest of the team that worked on CAPS. This award served to get him into the Academy, where he is regarded as a deeply involved and committed member.[citation needed]

Coons has been involved with motion-picture technology since he was in junior high school, where he was one of the "Audio-Visual Team" that handled the equipment for educational films and shows. Coons has made a number of "amateur" films, in addition to several student-style efforts. He was also the cameraman, cinematographer, craft services and technical consultant on John P. McCann's The Glendale Ogre. He is widely regarded as a "connector" in the sense Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in The Tipping Point, though some see him as a Gladwellian "maven." He has also been identified as the title character (a nudist programmer on the late shift who got in trouble with the security guards) in Po Bronson's non-fiction book on Silicon Valley workers called The Nudist on the Late Shift,.[9]


  1. ^ "ArtScans Studio - Fine Art Color Accurate Specialty Scanning". artscans.com. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  2. ^ Rhythm and Hues Studios
  3. ^ Blogger Joy McCann documents the lives of those in "The Olive Starlight Orchestra" (http://littlemissattila.mu.nu/archives/041076.php)
  4. ^ Harald Johnson, "Mastering Digital Printing", Thompson Course Technology, 2002, ISBN 1-929685-65-3
  5. ^ Digital Journalism article on the breakthroughs Coons achieved in fine-arts scanning, with the backing and help of Graham Nash and the rest of the Nash Editions team (http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0105/nash_intro.htm)
  6. ^ "New Page 2". stansherer.com. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  7. ^ photography.org - The Center for Photographic Art, Interview, Mac Holbert, September 2004 Archived 8 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Excerpt from Harald Johnson's Mastering Digital Printing: Second Edition on David Coons's innovative work with Nash in fine-arts scanning
  9. ^ Loretta Kalb, book review The Nudist on the Late Shift: And Other True Tales of Silicon Valley bookpage.com, July 1999

External links[edit]