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Loren Carpenter

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(written from a Production point of view)

Loren C. Carpenter (born 7 February 1947; age 70) was an employee of the Graphics Group who was in charge of designing the computer graphics in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Together with Alvy Ray Smith, he conceived the idea for the planetary "fly by" and was later largely responsible for the work in the "Genesis Demo" computer generated imagery (CGI) rendering, specifically the fractal mountains, atmosphere and shock wave. The fractal mountains were something Carpenter had already constructed before work on the demo started, and he has cited the appearance of them on the big screen as his biggest career surprise. [1]

A graduate from the University of Washington, Seattle with a B.S. in mathematics, 1974 and a M.S. in computer science, 1976, Carpenter started his career as computer operator for the Boeing Corporation. In 1981 he joined the Graphics Group, brought in by Ed Catmull, with whom he had worked at Boeing, a few months before the company was tasked with the creation of the "Genesis Demo". He was once asked in his youth what he wanted to do when he grew up, to which he replied "Something that nobody had ever done before." [2] He did so at the Graphics Group were he developed one of the very first operational rendering programs, "Reyes" (acronym for the somewhat flippant "Renders Everything You Ever Saw"). It was in his program that a CGI Enterprise and a CGI K't'inga-class vessel were rendered in August 1981, which were featured in a short sequence, that served as a probation piece in order to obtain permission to go ahead with the "Genesis Demo". (American Cinematographer, October 1982, p. 1038) The direct descendant of "Reyes", the "RenderMan" software is still widely used (among others for the temporal vortex scene in Star Trek: First Contact).

Like so many of his colleagues that were part of the early Graphics Group, Loren Carpenter has never left the company, having worked on the for the company ground-breaking computer generated animation short, The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984). Carpenter stayed on after the company became "Pixar Animation Studios" in 1986, and personally lend a hand in the production that company's many successful productions, including, the Toy Story series (from 1995 onward), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004, featuring music by Michael Giacchino), Cars (2006), Up (2009), and Brave (2012).

His work has garnered Carpenter two non-production specific Academy Awards, one in 1993 in the category "Scientific and Engineering", and one "Academy Award of Merit" in 2001, each of which he shared with fellow co-workers at Pixar.

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