Loren Carpenter

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Loren Carpenter
Born (1947-02-07) February 7, 1947 (age 76)[1]
EducationB.S. in mathematics,
M.S. in computer science[1]
Alma materUniversity of Washington[1]
OccupationComputer graphics scientist[1]

Loren C. Carpenter (born February 7, 1947) is a computer graphics researcher and developer.


He was a co-founder and chief scientist of Pixar Animation Studios. He is the inventor of the Reyes rendering algorithm and is one of the authors of the PhotoRealistic RenderMan software which implements Reyes and renders all of Pixar's movies. Following Disney's acquisition of Pixar, Carpenter became a senior research scientist at Disney Research.[2] He retired in early 2014.[3]

In around 1967 Carpenter began work at Boeing Computer Services (a part of aircraft maker Boeing) in Seattle, Washington.[4] During his time there Carpenter studied for a B.S. in mathematics (1974) and an M.S. in Computer Science (1976), both from the University of Washington.[5] Some of his work concerned using computer technology to improve Boeing's mechanical design processes, which were still entirely done by hand on paper.[4]

On July 14, 1980, he gave a presentation at the SIGGRAPH conference, in which he showed "Vol Libre", a 2-minute computer generated movie.[6] This showcased his software for generating and rendering fractally generated landscapes, and was met with a standing ovation, and (as Carpenter had hoped) he was immediately invited to work at Lucasfilm's Computer Division (which would become Pixar).[4] There Carpenter worked on the "genesis effect" scene of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which featured an entire fractally-landscaped planet.[4]

He and his wife Rachel founded Cinematrix, a company that researches computer-assisted interactive audience participation.[7]

Carpenter invented the A-buffer hidden surface determination algorithm.[1]

The PXR24 compression scheme used in Industrial Light & Magic's Open EXR file format is based on Carpenter's work.[8]

In 2006 made improvements to the popular Mersenne Twister random number generator.[9]

As of 2022 Carpenter is working with Ostrich Air Inc and FireBot Labs Inc as a Private Investor and Technical Consultant for their Fully Autonomous AI Driven Fire Fighting Drone Platform. [10][11]

Computer animation[edit]


  • 1985, ACM SIGGRAPH Achievement Award.
  • 1992, Scientific and Technical Academy Award (Plaque) for his contributions to the motion picture industry through the invention and development of the RenderMan software.
  • 1994, Distinction by the Prix Ars Electronica jury for his entry Kinoetic Evolution in the category Interactive Art.
  • 1995, Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
  • 2000, Academy Award of Merit (Statuette).[12]
  • 2017, Cayman Islands International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award


  • Loren Carpenter, "The A -buffer, an antialiased hidden surface method", ACM Siggraph Computer Graphics, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 103–108, 1984
  • Robert L. Cook, Loren Carpenter, and Edwin Catmull. "The Reyes image rendering architecture." Computer Graphics (SIGGRAPH '87 Proceedings), pp. 95–102.
  • Robert L. Cook, Thomas K. Porter, Loren Carpenter, "Distributed ray tracing", ACM Siggraph Computer Graphics, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 137–145, 1984


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Perry, Tekla (April 2, 2001). "And the Oscar Goes To... Loren Carpenter". IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  2. ^ "Disney Research - People: Loren Carpenter". Disney Research. Archived from the original on 2011-10-17.
  3. ^ Amidi, Amid (January 11, 2014). "The Man Who Invented the Name Pixar Retired Yesterday". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d Michael Rubin (October 24, 2005). Droidmaker: George Lucas And the Digital Revolution. Triad Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-937404-67-6.
  5. ^ "UW CSE Alumnus and Pixar Co-Founder Loren Carpenter". Professor Ed Lazowska, University of Washington.
  6. ^ kottke.org. 2009. Vol Libre, an amazing CG film from 1980. [online] Available at: http://kottke.org/09/07/vol-libre-an-amazing-cg-film-from-1980
  7. ^ "Cinematrix Founders". Cinematrix Inc.
  8. ^ Florian Kainz, Rod Bogart (2009-02-18). "Technical Introduction to OpenEXR" (PDF). Industrial Light & Magic. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
  9. ^ "Mersenne Twister in C, C++, C#". Professor Makoto Matsumoto, department of mathematics, Hiroshima University.
  10. ^ "About". FIREBOT LABS. Retrieved 2023-09-01.
  11. ^ "About". OSTRICH AIR. Retrieved 2023-09-01.
  12. ^ "Pixar's Catmull, Carpenter and Cook Receive Academy Award Of Merit". Pixar. March 5, 2001.

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