Profile: Paul Debevec

Name: Paul Debevec

Title: Associate director, graphics research

Organization: University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies

Age: 36

Industries: Film, education

Where to find him: http://www.debevec.org

30-second biography: Debevec led the development of devices that capture and simulate how objects and people reflect light -- technology that was recently used to scan in photoreal facial models of actors for digital stunt doubles in films such as Spider Man 2, King Kong, Superman Returns and Spider Man 3. Debevec also led the design of the pioneering high dynamic range image editing program HDR Shop (www.hdrshop.com); several of its key features have been incorporated into Adobe Photoshop CS2 and CS3. Debevec works as a research associate professor and associate director of graphics research at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. He was the recipient of ACM Siggraph's first Significant New Researcher Award and co-authored the book High Dynamic Range Imaging (Morgan Kaufmann, 2005).

Current project: "I am leading my group in developing a novel display that is capable of showing fully interactive graphics three-dimensionally to any number of users, 360 degrees around, without the need for 3-D glasses. Our current prototype produces images that are up to 5 inches wide, and new designs in the works will be able to show a 3-D object at least the size of a human head."

Who in the technology industry most influenced your career? "David Liddle, a researcher during the pioneering days of Xerox PARC. He was the head of Paul Allen's Interval Research Corp. in Palo Alto in 1994 when I was hired as a summer intern to work with their computer vision group."

Technology you can't live without: "Being able to watch, edit and share videos on my laptop computer. As the chair of the Siggraph 2007 Computer Animation Festival, I've been able to work on the show wherever I am instead of chained to an editing station with tons of videotapes."

Most-critical technologies for IT this year: "Three technologies stand out: three-dimensional digitizing services, which will make it possible to scan any object and place it photorealistically into a virtual environment; virtual humans, computer-generated human characters that will allow us to interact with computers in more engaging and natural ways; and renewable energy, to safely sustain the energy needs of the world economy."

The best thing about today's technology: "It keeps us better connected to one another -- you can maintain friendships and collaborations more easily than ever before."

The worst thing about today's technology: "It's too expensive for everyone to have. Not just the price, but the effort to maintain and learn the complexities of all the systems."

Technology can... "Allow people to share their vision with one another and the world."

Book that was most recently on your nightstand: Gregorin and the Three Witches, the collected short stories of computer graphics pioneer Gavin Miller (www.snakerobots.com)

Favorite Web sites: www.imdb.com, slashdot.org, www.rottentomatoes.com, www.fxguide.com, www.theonion.com

What sets you apart? "Being able to develop a technology and then lead its first creative application as a noteworthy, artistic work."

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