Excerpt from my acceptance remarks

The following is an excerpt from my acceptance remarks upon receiving the SIGGRAPH 1996 Computer Graphics Achievement Award, delivered at the conference on August 7, 1996 in New Orleans.

Marc Levoy

I would like to use this opportunity, given to me by the SIGGRAPH awards committee, whom I thank, to publically recognize some of the people who played a role in the history of volume rendering.

What we now call volume rendering was invented by Bob Drebin, Loren Carpenter, and Pat Hanrahan, then at Pixar. As described in their 1988 Siggraph paper, this algorithm embodied three key ideas:

  1. Directional shading based on the gradient in a volume,
  2. Digital compositing to combine the slices of a volume,
  3. Image warping, also applied to a volume.

Gradient shading of volumes first appeared in a 1986 paper by Karl-Heinz Hoehne, who called it graylevel gradient shading. Compositing can be traced through Porter and Duff's 1984 paper to Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith's invention of the alpha channel in the mid-70's. Image warping is a special case of texture mapping, which dates back to Ed Catmull's 1974 PhD thesis.

As it turns out, volume rendering approximates the passage of light through a participating media. In this respect, Jim Blinn's 1982 paper on clouds and dusty surfaces, Jim Kajiya's 1984 paper on volume densities, and Holly Rushmeier's 1987 paper with Ken Torrance on zonal radiosity must also be regarded as formative. This relationship between volume rendering and light transport was pointed out to the volume rendering community by the late Wolfgang Krueger.

The original application for volume rendering was the display of medical data. A key pioneer here was Gabor Herman, who in a 1979 paper with Ksun Kao Liu proposed using cube-shaped voxels to display computed tomography data. Also worthy of recognition are Dr. Eliot Fishman, who served as Pixar's power user in the mid '80's, and Dr. Julian Rosenman, who served as mine in the late '80's, both in the medical area.

Finally, I would like to recognize the special role played by Alvy Ray Smith, whose evangelizing inspired many people, including me, to work in this area, Fred Brooks and Nick England, who organized the first Volume Visualization workshop in 1989, Craig Upson, who served as its program chair, and Arie Kaufman, who wrote the first book on volume visualization.

This award belongs to these people as much as it belongs to me...

© 1996 Marc Levoy