National Geographic : 1989 Jun
On Assignment HE MEDIUM was the mes sage when Assistant Art Director ALLEN CARROLL (above, at left) visited Pixar, a computer-graphics firm in San Rafael, California, to see the cutting edge of a new technol ogy. A specialist in translating scientific concepts into compre hensible images, Allen felt at home with Ralph Guggenheim, right, Eben Ostby, center, and William Reeves, who created an animated sequence of a shatter ing crystal globe (pages 732-3). A leading producer of computer graphics hardware and soft ware, Pixar is reinventing the art of animation. "The team looked at broken glass to get the shattering right," says Carroll, "details that really made a dif ference." Art director for our HistoricalAtlas of the United States, Carroll is now associate director for design in the Carto graphic Division. The images generated by computer number crunching can be astoundingly realistic, as author-photographer FRED WARD (below, at left) learned at a General Dynamics flight simu lator in Fort Worth, Texas. With manager Jack Drewett in the stationary cockpit, he found the experience of flying through an illusory landscape beamed by six projectors onto an overhead dome to be "absolutely mind blowing." For Ward, a computer enthu siast, this assignment was like a busman's holiday. In his office in his Bethesda, Maryland, home he keeps four of his seven com puters on a large oval table, with two printers in the center. With his chair on casters, he wheels from screen to screen. "I'll be creating graphics on my Macin tosh II," he says, "while I'm writing text on the IBM." As broad in his scope of inter ests as he is in his talents, Ward now has 15 GEOGRAPHIC articles to his credit-nine of which he wrote as well as photographed. If he could claim a specialty, it might be gemstones and precious metals, which have been the subject of four of his previous assignments. NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC(ISSN0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBY THENATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY,17THANDM STS. N.W ., WASHINGTON,D. C. 20036. $18.00 A YEAR,$2.25 A COPY. SECOND-CLASS POSTAGEPAIDAT WASHINGTON,D. C., AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SENDADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P. 0. BOX2174, WASHINGTON,D. C. 20013.