DreamWorks Animation Promotes Lincoln Wallen to CTO

Lincoln Wallen - P 2012

The exec previously served as head of DWA technology.

DreamWorks Animation has promoted Lincoln Wallen to the role of CTO.

The exec joined DWA in 2008 as head of research and development. He most recently served as head of animation technology, responsible for the studio’s CG production platform and software tools. Under his leadership, the studio was named to the 50 Most Innovative Companies list in MIT’s Technology Review.

In the role of CTO, he succeeds Ed Leonard, who is now serving as CEO of Ptch, a new mobile app incubated at DWA and aimed at providing immersive entertainment experiences across platforms.

“We put our technology to use to improve our art and movies, but the technology has wider relevance to other companies,” Wallen told The Hollywood Reporter. “One of the key goals that I have is to make the technology development and innovation at DWA more visible in the wider tech world — to other businesses in other markets. The lessons are for the future, I want to tell that story.”

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In the next year, a key focus will be implementing multicore [processing]. “The way we are using scalable multicore is to support the creative process, to get a more natural and immediate response from the design steps. And then scale that with our data center, to be able to produce turnaround times much faster than before. We use that two ways. We put more things on screen, so our films get richer and characters get more complex. And we also use it for efficiency.”

This development supports DWA’s goal of releasing three films per year, starting in 2013. Next year’s slate of releases includes The Croods, Turbo and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Me and My Shadow, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Happy Smekday! make up the 2014 lineup.

“We have also created a software architecture that allows [artists] to manipulate the characters with a pen on a touch screen,” Wallen explained. “So we are essentially reconnecting them with their core creative skill. That is incredibly exciting.”

Wallen noted that HP and Intel are primary technology partners, and DWA also works extensively with software companies such as Red Hat and Autodesk. “We are always looking to partner with leading technology companies because we find our use cases are generally very forward looking.”

Said DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg: “Lincoln is an exceptional executive and brilliant technologist whose contributions to DreamWorks Animation have already been monumental. I am thrilled that he has become our chief technology officer and I look forward to working with him as he continues to lead the company’s rapidly expanding range of technological initiatives.”

Prior to joining DWA, Wallen served as CTO for mobile services at Electronic Arts. Earlier, he was a professor at Oxford University.

DWA recently inked a five-year distribution deal with 20th Century Fox through which the Katzenberg-led studio will release its films via Fox from 2013-2017. DWA’s next film, Rise of the Guardians, opens Nov. 21 and will be distributed by Paramount.