Loren C. Carpenter (born February 7, 1947) is a computer graphics researcher and developer. He is co-founder and chief scientist of Pixar Animation Studios. He is the co-inventor of the Reyes rendering algorithm and is one of the authors of the PhotoRealistic RenderMan software which implements Reyes and renders all of Pixar's movies. Following Disney's acquisition of Pixar, Carpenter became a Senior Research Scientist at Disney Research. He retired in early 2014.
In around 1967 Carpenter began work at Boeing Computer Services (a part of aircraft maker Boeing) in Seattle, Washington. During his time there Carpenter studied for a B.S. in Mathematics (1974) and an M.S. in Computer Science (1976), both from the University of Washington. Some of his work concerned using computer technology to improve Boeing's mechanical design processes, which were still entirely done by hand on paper.
In 1980 he gave a presentation at the SIGGRAPH conference, in which he showed "Vol Libre", a 2-minute computer generated movie. This showcased his software for generating and rendering fractally generated landscapes, and was met with a standing ovation, and (as Carpenter had hoped) he was immediately invited to work at Lucasfilm's Computer Division (which would become Pixar). There Carpenter worked on the "genesis effect" scene of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which featured an entire fractally-landscaped planet.
He and his wife Rachel founded Cinematrix, a company that researches computer-assisted interactive audience participation.
Carpenter invented the A-buffer hidden surface determination algorithm.
The PXR24 compression scheme used in Industrial Light & Magic's Open EXR file format is based on Carpenter's work.
In 2006 made improvements to the popular Mersenne Twister random number generator.
Carpenter is a grandnephew of Charles Schmidt, the creator of Sgt. Pat of Radio Patrol, a nationally syndicated police comic strip which ran in the 1930s and 1940s.1985, ACM SIGGRAPH Achievement Award.
1992, Scientific and Technical Academy Award (Plaque) for his contributions to the motion picture industry through the invention and development of the RenderMan software.
1994, Distinction by the Prix Ars Electronica jury for his entry Kinoetic Evolution in the category Interactive Art.
1995, Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
2000, Academy Award of Merit (Statuette).
2017, Cayman Islands International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award