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Dr. Tessendorf joins the School of Computing

August 2010

Jerry TessendorfDr. Jerry Tessendorf, currently Chief Graphics Scientist at Rhythm & Hues Studios, will be joining us in August 2010 as the Director of the Master of Fine Arts and the Digital Production Arts program. Dr. Tessendorf will be appointed as Professor in the Division of Visual Computing within the School of Computing, where he will teach and do research in the area of physical simulation applied to the production of animation and special effects. As Director, Dr. Tessendorf will take the lead in implementing our five-year plan to achieve recognition as the lead institution in the training of technical directors and technical artists for the film and electronic games industries.

Jerry Tessendorf's highly influential career in the visual effects industry was recognized in 2008 by an Academy Award for Technical achievement, in honor of his development of custom fluid dynamics tools. He is widely acknowledge throughout the computer graphics industry and research communities as the one who taught us how to efficiently simulate and render highly realistic ocean surfaces, through lectures presented at the SIGGRAPH Annual Conference from 1999 to 2004. Among the numerous films to which he has contributed directly are Titanic, Waterworld, the X-Men series, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Night at the Museum series, and Superman Returns. It is safe to say that any film including wave effects produced since 2000 has been strongly influenced by his work. Besides his work on wave simulation, Dr. Tessendorf is also the author of a number of key technical papers in areas as diverse as the use of Feynman Path Integrals for computing radiactive transport, rendering of clouds and other atmospheric phenomena, and river simulation.

Dr. Tessendorf is a 1984 graduate of the High Energy Theory group in the Department of Physics at Brown University, with a dissertation entitled "Application of a Mean-Field Expansion to Stochastically Stirred Fluids." He first came to the special effects industry through his work in the defense contracting industry as Corporate Senior Scientist at Areté Associates. There, he lead the effort to develop and commercialize graphics tools for natural environment simulation, eventually founding a subsidiary, Areté Image Software, whose tools became widely used in film making. His first film industry position was at Cinesite Digital Studios, where he developed a unique modeling and rendering system for handling large numbers of unresolved primitives, specifically hair, particles, and shafts of volumetric density. There he designed and developed his first production system for efficiently simulating oceanscapes and interactive water surface effects. He arrived at Rhythm & Hues in 2003.