Disney funds R&D labs

To focus on next-gen tech including computer animation

Disney is going to college.

The entertainment company said Monday that it is underwriting research and development labs at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

The R&D labs will conduct work in computer animation, computational cinematography, autonomous interactive characters, robotics and user interfaces that can then be used at Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Disney's Parks & Resorts division, Disney Media Networks, ESPN, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Disney Interactive Media Group.

"Creating the next generation of sophisticated technologies requires long-term vision and collaboration with world-class innovators," Ed Catmull, president, Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, said. "We are strengthening our commitment to R&D throughout Disney by establishing these labs."

Joe Marks, vp R&D at Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development, is leading the launch of the project and will oversee the labs.

Each lab represents a five-year commitment from Disney to fund a director and seven to eight principal investigators. Additional staff will include professors, academic interns, scientific consultants and collaborators.