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Building the Open Metaverse

Jim Blinn, a Pioneer's View on the Evolution of Computer Graphics, from Voyager to the Open Metaverse

Building the Open Metaverse
Building the Open Metaverse

In this episode of the Building the Open Metaverse podcast, hosts Marc Petit and Patrick Cozzi are joined by computer graphics legend Jim Blinn. Blinn recounts his pioneering work in CG, from developing bump mapping while a PhD student at University of Utah in the 1970s to producing animations for the Voyager spacecraft's flybys of Jupiter and Saturn at NASA JPL.

Blinn traces his journey from growing up fascinated by astronomy, animation and education, to falling into computer programming and graphics at University of Michigan. He recounts moving to Caltech and JPL, where through luck and persistence he got to work on animations for Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" series and the Annenberg Foundation's physics series "The Mechanical Universe.”

Along the way Blinn met pioneers like Ivan Sutherland and inspired innovations like ray tracing. He reflects on always focusing on improving images with the tools at hand rather than waiting for better tech. Blinn also looks to the future, discussing the potential and limitations of VR, AI and the metaverse. He emphasizes the need for research to continue advancing graphics and for computer scientists to properly document their work.

Overall, it's a fascinating insider perspective on the birth and evolution of computer graphics from one of its foremost founding fathers. Blinn imparts wisdom and humor drawn from a storied career at the forefront of CG.


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Building the Open Metaverse is a podcast hosted by Patrick Cozzi (Cesium) and Marc Petit (Epic Games) that invites a broad range of technical experts to share their insights on how the community is building the metaverse together.

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Building the Open Metaverse
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