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Tom Porter (computer scientist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas K Porter is the senior vice president of production strategy[1] at Pixar and one of its founding employees.[2]

Professional life

After receiving a master's degree in computer science at Stanford University in 1975, Tom Porter worked at the National Institutes of Health on computer visualization of molecular models and wrote software at Ampex for the world's first commercial digital paint program, AVA.

Porter joined Lucasfilm's Computer Research and Development Division in early 1981. He and Tom Duff, another Lucasfilm employee, developed a new approach to compositing images; their 1984 paper, "Compositing Digital Images",[3] is "[t]he seminal work on an algebra for image compositing", according to Keith Packard.[4] "Porter-Duff compositing" is now a key technique in computer graphics.

Porter is listed as one of Pixar's 40 founding employees at the time of its spin-out as a corporation with funding from Steve Jobs in 1986.[2]

Porter expanded on Robert L. Cook’s research into Monte Carlo techniques for image rendering, sampling visible objects not just (spatially) within each pixel but also (temporally) throughout the interval of time that the virtual shutter is open, creating a general solution for motion blur in computer-generated imagery. Porter created the image ‘1984’ as visual proof (and timestamp) of the breakthrough.[5]

Porter's son Spencer was the inspiration for Luxo Jr.. Porter brought his infant son Spencer to work one day and John Lasseter, playing with the child, became fascinated with his proportions. It struck Lasseter as humorous that a baby's head is huge compared with the rest of its body, and he began to model a young lamp with that in mind.[6]

Porter has received three[7] Academy Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his work with motion blur,[8] digital compositing,[9][10] and digital painting.[11]

Porter worked on several Pixar films, notably as Supervising Technical Director of Monsters, Inc. and as associate producer of Cars and Wall•E, before assuming the role of SVP of film production at the studio.

Porter has an Erdős number of 3 in two distinct paths.[12][13] One path is through Tom Duff, Porter's coauthor of "Composting Digital Images" in Computer Graphics.[3] Duff was a coauthor of "Minimal-Energy Clusters of Hard Spheres" in Discrete & Computational Geometry with John Horton Conway[14] and Conway coauthored "On the Distribution of Values of Angles Determined by Coplanar Points" with Paul Erdős (and H.T Croft and M.J.T Guy) in Journal of London Mathematical Society.[15] The other path is through István Simon, Porter's coauthor on "Random Insertion into a Priority Queue Structure" in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering.[16] Simon was a coauthor of "Repeated Random Insertion into a Priority Queue" in Journal of Algorithms with Béla Bollobás.[17] Bollabás authored 18 papers with Paul Erdős,[18] including "On the structure of edge graphs"[19] and "On a Ramsey-Turán type problem"[20] in Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society and Journal of Combinatorial Theory, respectively.


See also


  • Porter, Thomas K; Simon, István (1975). "Random Insertion into a Priority Queue Structure". IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering. 1 (3): 292–298.
  • Cook, Robert L.; Porter, Thomas K; Carpenter, Loren (1984). "Distributed ray tracing". Computer Graphics. ACM SIGGRAPH. 18 (3): 137–145. doi:10.1145/964965.808590.
  • Porter, Thomas; Duff, Tom (1984). "Compositing Digital Images". Computer Graphics. ACM SIGGRAPH. 18 (3): 253–259. doi:10.1145/800031.808606. ISBN 0-89791-138-5.
  • Porter, Tom; Susman, Galyn (January 1, 2000). "Creating Lifelike Characters in Pixar Movies". Communications of the ACM. Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved March 13, 2009.


  1. ^ "News Post". The Fenn School.
  2. ^ a b "Alvy Pixar History Page". April 27, 2005. Archived from the original on April 27, 2005. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Porter, Thomas; Duff, Tom (1984). "Compositing Digital Images". Computer Graphics. ACM SIGGRAPH. 18 (3): 253–259. doi:10.1145/800031.808606. ISBN 0-89791-138-5.
  4. ^ Keith Packard's webpage about Porter & Duff's 1984 paper
  5. ^ Seymour, Mike. "1984 – Pool Balls 25 Years Later". FX Guide. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Price, David (2008). The Pixar Touch. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-307-26575-7. p. 90. 2009 Vintage Books edition: ISBN 978-0-307-27829-6, Excerpt available at Google Books.
  7. ^ "Tom Porter - Awards &  Nominations". Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  8. ^ "Academy Awards - 1992 | Winners & Nominees". Retrieved March 7, 2018. For development of "RenderMan" software providing the means to digitally create scenes or elements that may be composited with other footage.
  9. ^ "Three Pixar execs get special Oscars". San Francisco Chronicle. February 1, 1996. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
  10. ^ "Academy Awards - 1995 | Winners & Nominees". Retrieved March 7, 2018. For their pioneering inventions in Digital Image Compositing.
  11. ^ "Academy Awards - 1997 | Winners & Nominees". Retrieved March 7, 2018. For their pioneering efforts in the development of digital paint systems used in motion picture production.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ N.J.A. Sloane, R.H. Hardin, T.S. Duff, J.H. Conway: "Minimal-Energy Clusters of Hard Spheres", Discrete & Computational Geometry 14, No. 3, 237–259, 1995.
  15. ^ J.H. Conway, H.T. Croft, P. Erdos, M.J.T. Guy: "On the Distribution of Values of Angles Determined by Coplanar Points", J. London Math. Soc., II., Ser. 19, 137–143, 1979.
  16. ^ Porter, Thomas K; Simon, István (1975). "Random Insertion into a Priority Queue Structure". IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering. 1 (3): 292–298.
  17. ^ Bollabás, Béla; Simon, István (1985). Repeated Random Insertion into a Priority Queue. J. Algorithms 6(4): 466–477.
  18. ^ Grossman, Jerry, Erdos0p, Version 2010, The Erdős Number Project, Oakland University, US, October 20, 2010.
  19. ^ Bollobás, B.; Erdős, P. (1973). "On the structure of edge graphs". Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society. 5 (3): 317–321. doi:10.1112/blms/5.3.317.
  20. ^ Bollobás, B.; Erdős, P. (1976). "On a Ramsey-Turán type problem". Journal of Combinatorial Theory. Series B. 21 (2): 166–168. doi:10.1016/0095-8956(76)90057-5.
  21. ^ The Pixar Story at IMDb
This page was last edited on 6 July 2021, at 17:08
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