Loren Carpenter


Loren Carpenter revolutionized the entire film industry through inventing rendering and modeling algorithms for image synthesis and visual effects. In 2001, he and two colleagues were awarded the only Oscar statuettes ever given for computer science. In 2014, he transitioned from his position as Senior Research Scientist in Disney/Pixar’s research division to that of a Scientist at IONS.

His groundbreaking work began at the Boeing Company where, while pursuing his master’s degree in computer science at the University of Washington, he started experimenting with computer animation as part of an effort to improve the company’s computer-aided design and modeling tools. That work inspired and led to his creation of the world’s first fractally-generated animation piece, a short film titled Vol Libre, which is available on Vimeo.

In 1980 he presented the two-minute film at the SIGGRAPH Conference, and his film career took off when the Lucasfilm Computer Division immediately offered him a job. There he further perfected his software to create the fractal planet for the Genesis sequence of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a visual effect that worked so well it was used in the next three Star Trek movies. His division at Lucasfilm eventually grew into Pixar Animation Studios, where he became the studio’s first Senior Scientist, and where his revolutionary software algorithms still beat in the heart of every Pixar movie.

In addition to his award-winning work in computer animation, Loren and his wife Rachel have explored new concepts in interactivity and computer art through their own company, Cinematrix, Inc

In 2014, Loren retired from Pixar to join the Institute of Noetic Sciences as a Scientist. At IONS, he has been involved primarily with experiment design and construction, using his extensive fabrication, computer and electronics skills. His contributions include new instruments for recording and analyzing quantum background noise and instruments for sensing and amplifying mind-photon interaction.

Vol Libre

The world’s first fractal movie created by Loren Carpenter.

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All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

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Loren Carpenter's Experiments

Read about Loren’s latest research projects.

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