Co-creator of Pixar Gives Animated Talk at NMSU

Dec 11, 2017

For fans of Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Up, Pixar is a household name. Its co-founder paid a visit to New Mexico State University to talk about his journey through the world of animation.

Credit Alvy Ray Smith

Clovis, New Mexico native and 1965 NMSU graduate Alvy Ray Smith is a computer graphics pioneer.  Smith co-created a pixel rendering technique called the “alpha channel.” It alters a pixel’s transparency and revolutionized the way images could be combined.

Smith’s career has included working with the likes of George Lucas and Steve Jobs. But he said his uncle has been one of the most significant people in his life.

“My uncle George was the man who taught me how to paint," Smith said. "He was the very important person in my life and it was my desire to combine painting with computers that led me to computer graphics so this is really important this relationship with uncle George.”

Smith co-founded Pixar in 1986, which went on to produce the first completely computer-generated film, 1995’s Academy Award-winning, “Toy Story.”  His message is that anyone can become successful.

“I grew up in Clovis, small town. I came to school here," Smith said.  "It’s not one of the renowned universities of the world…I thought it was people in other places that could get famous and make money and be successful. It was always people somewhere else, it wasn’t us. And it is us.”

In the audience was fourth grader Eleanor Warden. Warden said it was an “awesome experience” to meet the man who created the studio responsible for her favorite movies like Cars and Coco.

“I think one of the biggest things I took away that he said was that even though people say no to you…you still have to keep going, you can’t just stop there because it’s a much bigger world than just those people,” Warden said.

Smith is writing a book entitled “A Biography of the Pixel.”