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June 2, 2006

Bill Kovacs (1948-2006)

I was shocked and truly sad to hear about the loss of Bill Kovacs, who passed away over the Memorial Day weekend. Bill Kovacs was one of my instructors during my last year at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. He was a brilliant man full of excitement, excitement towards any advances in our industry, the latest technology, the physics, and artistry that allow us to create anything that we can imagine. His passsion for learning and new technologies was facinating and inspiring. Even though I only had him as an instructor for a short time, he has definatley made an impact on me, and part of who he was continues to inspire me today...

To learn about who Bill Kovacs was, please visit the sites below:

Dave Yost started a Wikipedia page for Bill. It is coming along
nicely, but perhaps you can contribute to it:

Also, there is a page where friends are leaving tributes:

please continue reading below about Bill Kovacs...

Wavefront founder dies at 56 (PDF)

Bill was a gentle and generous soul. He graced all of us with his
insights, his humor and his own unique genius, His legacy includes 3
wonderful children and an enduring contribution to the world of computer
graphics. His friendship will be missed by us all. He touched my heart
and helped me become a better person for it. I am saddened by my loss,
but like many, I choose to celebrate Bill's life and hope you will join
me and his family this Sunday.

With abiding respect,

Larry Barels


Wavefront founder dies at age 56

BILL KOVACS: 1949-2006
June 2, 2006 12:00 AM

Bill Kovacs, a pioneer in computer animation who cofounded the software company Wavefront Technologies in
Santa Barbara in the early 1980s and later won an Oscar for science and engineering contributions to motion
pictures, has died. He was 56.

Mr. Kovacs, formerly of Santa Barbara, was found Tuesday following a stroke brought on by a cerebral
hemorrhage suffered in his sleep at his home in Camarillo. His legacy graces films from "Tron" to "Jurassic Park" and "Toy Story," and the thousands of television shows and advertisements that today rely on computer-generated imagery. "He was a brilliant man, I mean totally creative, the absent-minded professor type, a lot of brain power," said his longtime domestic partner, Kathy Salyer.

"His love of learning and exploration was contagious." Larry Barels, who co-founded Wavefront with Mark Sylvester and Mr. Kovacs in 1984, said Thursday that Mr. Kovacs was the first person to realize and harness the power of computers to create theatrics.

Mr. Kovacs served as Wavefront's chief technical officer until leaving when the company went public in 1994.


When Bill Kovacs was earning degrees in architecture, first from Carnegie Mellon and then from Yale University's Graduate School, he couldn't have imagined that he would ultimately build something so revolutionary. Kovacs, among just a handful of technical visionaries, would help lay the foundations on which the modern medium of computer graphics would be built.

Kovacs began his career as an Associate with the architectural giant Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and collaborated on the firm's computer-aided design system. But Kovacs was also an art lover, and was drawn to the artists who were using computers in motion picture production. Working first at the seminal Hollywood studio Robert Abel & Associates, and later at his own company Wavefront Technologies, Kovacs led the technical teams that produced scores of award-winning productions and software products. These images profoundly changed how moving pictures were made, and Kovacs was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a Technical Achievement Award in 1998. The reverberations from these breakthroughs continue to this day. Wavefront Technologies, after being sold to computer manufacturer SGI for 138 million dollars, was merged with Alias Research and the eventual result has been software that makes the majority of digital effects in modern movies.

Kovacs has personally experienced all facets of the CG industry, having earned Clio Awards for his television commercial work as well as creating images for the landmark computer-generated movie "Tron." He has been a consultant to game manufacturer Electronic Arts and the Hollywood digital production company RezN8, and is also a founding partner of the software company Instant Effects. Kovacs also shares his knowledge with students, and he's lectured at UCLA in Los Angeles and at San Francisco's Academy of Art College, where he's served on the Presidential Advisory Board. As a key player in the invention of computer graphics, Bill Kovacs enjoys a reputation of the first rank.


Posted by dschnee at June 2, 2006 9:17 PM