MacArthur Fellows Program

James F. Blinn

Computer Graphics Animator | Class of 1991

Computer Graphics Animator
Pasadena, California
42 at time of award
Published July 1, 1991

About James' Work

James Blinn is a computer graphics animator who has pioneered an array of surface modeling techniques and refined methods for depicting light reflection on representations of curved surfaces.

The spectrum of Blinn’s work ranges from the portrayal of a long-period comet in the inner solar system to a continuous line-drawing presentation of evolution from a single cell to humankind.  For the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, he created computerized simulations of the many Voyager encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus.  He created eight hours of animation for The Mechanical Universe (1986), an educational series describing physics and mathematics concepts for college-level students and developed Project MATHEMATICS!, a free multimedia educational series, designed to attract young people to the study of math through the use of live action, special effects, music and animation.


In designing computer graphics, Blinn works simultaneously as an artist, educator, mathematician, and scientist.  He is author of a series in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications which introduced seminal topics in animation.  He is a Fellow in the Computer Graphics Research Group at Microsoft Research.

Blinn received a B.S. (1970) and M.S.E. (1972) from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. (1978) from the University of Utah.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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