ACM has awarded the A.M. Turing Award to animation pioneers Edwin E. Catmull and Patrick M. Hanrahan. Named for computer scientist Alan Turing, the Turing Award is given to those who make “major contributions of lasting importance to computing.”

Catmull is former president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios and Hanrahan is a founding Pixar employee and professor in the Computer Graphics Laboratory at Stanford University.

Catmull and Hanrahan received the award due to their contributions to 3D computer graphics and the impact of those contributions on CGI in filmmaking and in other use cases. According to ACM, their work led to a new genre of animated films, starting with Toy Story 25 years ago.

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Their techniques remain an integral part of the CGI process today, ACM explained. Beyond filmmaking, their techniques have applications in other areas, including data center management and AI.

“CGI has transformed the way films are made and experienced, while also profoundly impacting the broader entertainment industry,” said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake. “We are especially excited to recognize Pat Hanrahan and Ed Catmull, because computer graphics is one of the largest and most dynamic communities within ACM, as evidenced by the annual ACM SIGGRAPH conference. At the same time, Catmull and Hanrahan’s contributions demonstrate that advances in one specialization of computing can have a significant influence on other areas of the field. For example, Hanrahan’s work with shading languages for GPUs, has led to their use as general-purpose computing engines for a wide range of areas, including my own specialization of high-performance computing.”