A Biography of the Pixel: A Fireside Chat with Alvy Ray Smith is part of a series of HYSTA Talk events hosted by Hua Yuan Science & Technology Association, a Silicon Valley-based non-profit organization.
In this hour-long in-depth conversation, the Co-Founder of Pixar will share the scenes behind the development of computer graphics from the 70s to the 90s, a time when storytelling was changed forever through one medium that has penetrated our lives today - the pixel. A technologist, artist, entrepreneur, & so much more, Smith contributed to fields spanning from early software color processing to hardware innovations, all to make creating animated films solely on computers possible for the first time in human history.
Meanwhile, Smith's story is not limited to his passion & pursuit of animation as a creative art. From its birth, it took more than advancements in computer graphics technology for the animated film industry to gain mainstream popularity & achieve profitability. As one of the founding fathers in this field, Smith had worked closely with Steve Jobs, the Disney family, & top media brands. Fast forward to now, it's no coincidence that Smith has stepped foot in the field of Virtual Reality. What would he say about these important turning points in the past, & what does he envision to be the future?
The chat will be followed by a book signing of A Biography of the Pixel, a masterpiece where Smith tells an engaging story of the pixel, from the mathematics it was born of to all the Digital Light (Smith's term for pictures consisting of pixels) it originates: still photos, movies, video games, & more.
Join us, if you ever wonder about how we've come so far in the making of computer graphics & what future journey a pixel will bring us onto.
1:30- 1:35 pm Welcome & HYSTA introduction
1:35 - 1:40 pm Event theme & speakers Introduction
1:40 - 2:40 pm A fireside chat with Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, moderated by Lake Dai
2:40 - 3:00 pm Coffee break
3:00 - 4:00 pm Book signing & social networking
To create a safe & enjoyable experience for all attendees, masks are highly recommended throughout the event. If you are experiencing any COVID-19-related symptoms, we kindly ask that you do not attend this event for the safety of others.
About the speaker
Alvy Ray Smith is an Academy Award-winning computer graphics pioneer who co-founded Pixar & Altamira. He was the first director of computer graphics at Lucasfilm as well as an original member of the Computer Graphics Lab at the New York Institute of Technology. Smith invented the first full-color paint program & the HSV (or HSB) color transform. He also co-invented the alpha channel, directed the Genesis Demo in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, proposed & negotiated the Academy-Award-winning Disney animation production system CAPS, & was active in the development of the HDTV standard. Smith holds four patents & is the author of A Biography of the Pixel. He has been published widely on topics such as theoretical computer science, computer graphics, & scholarly genealogy. Smith is also an advisor to Baobab Studios, a VR startup in Silicon Valley.
About A Biography of the Pixel, by Alvy Ray Smith
The Great Digital Convergence of all media types into one universal digital medium occurred, with little fanfare, at the recent turn of the millennium. The bit became the universal medium, & the pixel-a particular packaging of bits-conquered the world. Henceforward, nearly every picture in the world would be composed of pixels-cell phone pictures, app interfaces, Mars Rover transmissions, book illustrations, video games. In A Biography of the Pixel, Pixar cofounder Alvy Ray Smith argues that the pixel is the organizing principle of most modern media, & he presents a few simple but profound ideas that unify the dazzling varieties of digital image making.
Smith's story of the pixel's development begins with Fourier waves, proceeds through Turing machines, & ends with the first digital movies from Pixar, DreamWorks, & Blue Sky. Today, almost all the pictures we encounter are digital-mediated by the pixel & irretrievably separated from their media; museums & kindergartens are two of the last outposts of the analog. Smith explains, engagingly & accessibly, how pictures composed of invisible stuff become visible-that is, how digital pixels convert to analog display elements. Taking the special case of digital movies to represent all of Digital Light-that is, all pictures constructed of pixels-and drawing on his decades of work in the field, Smith approaches his subject from multiple angles-art, technology, entertainment, business, & history. A Biography of the Pixel is essential reading for anyone who has watched a video on a cell phone, played a videogame, or seen a movie. 400 pages of annotations, prepared by the author & available online, provide an invaluable resource for readers.
-- MIT Press
About the Host
Lake Dai is a venture investor & adjunct professor with over a decade of experience in the tech industry. She is the founder of Sancus Ventures, a VC firm that invests in software infrastructure, including AI & blockchain technologies, & is also an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where she has taught Applied AI at the Master of Engineering program since 2016. In addition to her investment career & teaching, Lake has worked as an early employee & product engineering executive at Alibaba, Yahoo!, Overture, & other tech startups, & has served on the boards of various tech companies in the fields of autonomous driving, neurotech, & bioinformatics. She holds an MBA from the University of Southern California & a B.S. in Economics from Beijing International Studies University, & has studied in the Computer Science MS program at Stanford University.
HYSTA (Hua Yuan Science & Technology Association) is a non-profit organization based in the Bay Area dedicated to facilitating cross-border tech & business collaboration. We serve a community of professionals, scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, & startups in the spirit of connecting networks, exchanging resources, & promoting change. HYSTA holds a variety of events every year, including our signature event, the HYSTA Annual Conference, which gathers over 1,500+ global company executives & elites yearly to map out the most cutting-edge technology & business landscape. Our network has attracted influential speakers including but not limited to Al Gore, John Chambers, Mike Moritz, Jim Breyer, Jerry Yang, Joe Lonsdale, & many others. For more information, please go to our website www.hysta.com.