Ed Catmull lines up Sawyer honor

Disney/Pixar ani chief  tapped for AMPAS award

Ed Catmull, president of the animation arms of Walt Disney and Pixar, is this year's recipient of the Gorden E. Sawyer Award, voted by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Established in 1981, the Sawyer Award is presented to "an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry." It will be presented to Catmull at the Academy's Scientific and Technical Awards dinner on Feb. 7 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

During the course of his career, Catmull has founded three companies that have conducted groundbreaking research in computer graphics: the computer graphics laboratory at the New York Institute of Technology, the computer division of Lucasfilm and Pixar.

"Ed is one of the rare individuals who can bridge the space between science and art," Academy president Sid Ganis said. "His vision, ingenuity and groundbreaking designs have made the impossible possible -- for filmmakers and movie audiences around the world."

Catmull has earned several other Academy honors.

Along with Rob Cook and Loren Carpenter, he received an Academy Award of Merit in 2000 for Pixar's RenderMan software, which produces images used in motion pictures from 3-D computer descriptions of an object's shape and appearance. The software has been used in 45 of the past 50 films that were nominated for a visual effects Oscar.

Catmull also received two Scientific and Engineering Awards: in 1992 as part of a team that developed RenderMan and in 1995 as part of a team responsible for pioneering inventions in Digital Image Compositing. He also shared a Technical Achievement Award in 2005.