Alvy Ray Smith event a smash!


  • Last Thursday night we were absolutely honoured to host a founding father of animation and Pixar, Alvy Ray Smith, for a fireside chat. 
Blog article tiles - 20240703 Pixar Event Wrap up

Last Thursday evening, The Precinct buzzed with excitement as attendees gathered for "Pixels to Pixar: An Evening with Alvy Ray Smith." This event, hosted by the Australian Computer Society's QLD Branch, provided a rare opportunity to engage with Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, a pioneering figure in computer graphics whose work has left an indelible mark on the tech and entertainment industries.

Dr. Smith co-founded Pixar and Altamira Software, contributing significantly to the development of computer graphics and animation. His early work at the New York Institute of Technology's Computer Graphics Laboratory laid the foundation for advancements that would later be seen in his groundbreaking visual effects at Lucasfilm for iconic films like 'Star Wars' and 'The Empire Strikes Back.' His contributions to the technology behind beloved films like "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo" have been instrumental in their success.

The evening began with Dr. Smith sharing historical context from his book, "A Biography of the Pixel," which was a decade in the making. This set the stage for the facilitated Q&A session with Hal Josephson, covering a wide range of topics from his time at Pixar and Lucasfilm Computer Division to his thoughts on AI and future technologies.

The audience, ranging from tech professionals and creatives to animation enthusiasts, were captivated by Dr. Smith's stories and insights. He shared fascinating details about Pixar's work culture, the company's first big break, and the evolution of the pixel from conceptual to colour. Dr. Smith also recounted the challenges he and his team faced, including how Pixar dealt with and persevered through numerous initial funding rejections.

After the formal session, Dr. Smith was swamped by passionate audience members and graciously spent time with everyone, distributing his unique Turing machine business cards. Adding to the unique experience, the event featured themed catering, including Star Wars & Toy Story cupcakes, RGBA fruit tarts as a nod to Alvy’s and Ed Catmull's invention of the alpha channel, and a cereal bar celebrating Alvy’s keen never-miss-a-beat work ethic.

A special shoutout goes to our QLD Branch team—Holly, Angela, and Sharyn—along with Alannah and Jarred from the wider team, who ensured the event ran smoothly and was a great success. Thank you to Sharon Singh FACS, who gave a brief address on behalf of the ACS QLD BEC, and highlighted the shared values and reasons that this event resonated with ACS. Caitlin Hultgren stepped into the role of MC for the night and did an excellent job both speaking and running the event, and adding amazing themed additional touches to celebrate Alvy.

We extend our sincere gratitude to DELF OZ for their support in bringing Dr. Alvy Ray Smith to Queensland and for their support of the wider Brisbane community.

Thank you to everyone who attended this unforgettable evening.