Richard Chuang and Rahul Thakkar, co-inventors of one of the very first digital animation pipelines, received Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy February 13 for their design work of the PDI/DreamWorks Animation Media Review System. It is Chuang’s second technical Oscar. In addition Andrew Pilgrim, Stewart Birnam and Mark Kirk also received awards for the review workflows and advanced playback features of that DreamWorks Animation Media Review System.
Unlike other Academy Awards to be presented this year, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards need not have been developed and introduced during 2015. Rather, the achievements must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.
A 1979 graduate of the UC Davis College of Engineering, Chuang became the first employee at Pacific Data Images in 1981. At the time, PDI was an upstart computer animation company that operated in a garage. PDI’s early successes included an updated Pillsbury Doughboy, which became the first established corporate icon to go CGI.
While at PDI, Chuant served as a visual effects supervisor on 16 Hollywood motion pictures, as well as a director on commercials. He also won an Emmy Award for Graphics Design. Later, as an executive at DreamWorks Animation, he led the effort in setting up DWA productions around the world.
Pacific Data was soon embraced – and later acquired by – the DreamWorks film studio, leading to collaborations on the Shrek film series, along with numerous other animated and live-action films. Chuang’s technical innovations led him to win, in 1998, a shared Technical Achievement Academy Award, his first of two awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Chuang left DreamWorks in 2008, determined to re-shape the way that animators work with each other. He then became the founder and CEO of Cloudpic.