Volume 91, Issue 93

Wednesday, March 25, 1998



Canucks thank the Academy

By Michelle Crespi
Gazette Staff

Canadians continue to conquer Hollywood.

Four University of Waterloo graduates in the department of mathematics have become Academy Award winners noted in a pre-Oscar ceremony for their contributions to computer animation.

Paul Breslin, a 1982 Waterloo graduate and 1981 graduate Kim Davidson received awards for technical achievement. Scientific and engineering awards were also given to 1985 graduate Rob Kreiger and 1984 graduate Bill Reeves who were honoured for devices and inventions that have important value and history in the motion picture industry, said John Morris, media relations officer at Waterloo.

Technical and scientific achievement awards come in three levels – certificate, plaque and Oscar. This year's award is a plaque which Reeves said will join another plaque and an Oscar on his mantel.

Reeves helped to develop the Marionette three-dimensional computer animation system used to create the feature film Toy Story. He lives in California and works for Pixar, a company which has an agreement with Disney to make two more feature films.

Breslin and Davidson were recognized for the development of the animation and modelling components of Prisms – a software package used to create special effects and simulate natural disaster in feature films, Morris said.

Along with a team of others, Kregier was honoured for developing the Alias PowerAnimator system's geometric modelling component which has established itself as the best commercial package for digital geometric modelling.

"The Film Board of Canada played an important role in emphasizing animated films to our generation, providing artists and technicians with the training in basic animation techniques," Reeves said.

Sheridan College, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo were also key in stressing computer animation in the early '80s, Reeves added.

Western engineering graduate Peter Higgins was also part of Oscar night in his role as consulting engineer for the movie Titanic.

"Since the computer animation industry is still young and the pool of Canadian talent rich, these accomplishments and awards are just the beginning," Reeves added.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998