Jim Blinn Industry Legend Computer Graphics Guru
James F. Blinn is a computer scientist who first became widely known for his work as a computer graphics expert at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), particularly his work on the pre-encounter animations for the Voyager project, his work on the Carl Sagan Cosmos documentary series and the research of the Blinn–Phong shading model and the the world’s most famous 3D model – the Utah Teapot!!.
In 1970, he received his bachelor’s degree in physics and communications science, and later a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Michigan. In 1978 he received a Ph.D. in computer science from the College of Engineering at the University of Utah.
Blinn devised new methods to represent how objects and light interact in a three dimensional virtual world, like environment mapping and bump mapping. He is well known for creating animation for three television series: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage; Project MATHEMATICS!; and the pioneering instructional graphics in The Mechanical Universe. His simulations of the Voyager spacecraft visiting Jupiter and Saturn have been seen widely. He is now a graphics fellow at Microsoft Research. Blinn also worked at the New York Institute of Technology in the summer of 1976.
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