James F. Blinn is a computer scientist who first became widely known for his work as a computer graphics expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), particularly his work on the pre-encounter animations for the Voyager project, his work on the Carl Sagan Cosmos documentary series and the research of the Blinn–Phong shading model.
In 1970, he received his bachelor's degree in physics and communications science, and later a master's degree in engineering from the University of Michigan. In 1978 he received a Ph.D. in computer science from the College of Engineering at the University of Utah.
Blinn devised new methods to represent how objects and light interact in a three dimensional virtual world, like environment mapping and bump mapping. He is well known for creating animation for three television series: Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Project MATHEMATICS!, and the pioneering instructional graphics in The Mechanical Universe. His simulations of the Voyager spacecraft visiting Jupiter and Saturn have been seen widely. He is now a graphics fellow at Microsoft Research.
- "All problems in computer graphics can be solved with a matrix inversion." —Blinn
- "I like to collect things. When I was young I collected stamps; now I collect empty margarine tubs and algorithms for drawing circles." —Blinn
- "The big problem in making the space movies is that of figuring out where to place the camera and in what direction to point it in order to get an interesting picture." —Blinn
- "The first problem is simply finding something that hasn't been done yet." —Blinn
- "An ancient Greek named Democritus first came up with the idea that the world was made of indivisible particles called atoms. (He didn't base this on any physical evidence — it's just that there were so many Greeks coming up with random ideas that one of them was bound to be right.)" —Blinn
- "Many of you are involved in the microcircuit revolution and tend to think this also applies to the text on your slides." —Blinn
- "There are about a dozen great computer graphics people, and Jim Blinn is six of them." —Ivan Sutherland
- " John, is the parent lamp a mother or a father?" —Blinn
- Blinn, James F.: Jim Blinn's Corner: Dirty Pixels, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc., ISBN 1-55860-455-3
- Blinn, James F.: Jim Blinn's Corner: A Trip Down The Graphics Pipeline, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc., ISBN 1-55860-387-5
- Blinn, James F.: Jim Blinn's Corner: Notation, Notation, Notation, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc., ISBN 1-55860-860-5
- Blinn, James F.: Simulation of Wrinkled Surfaces, Computer Graphics, Vol. 12 (3), pp. 286-292 SIGGRAPH-ACM (August 1978)
- Blinn, James F.: Texture and Reflection In Computer Generated Images, CACM, 19(10), October 1976, pp 542–547.
- Blinn, James F.: Models of Light Reflection for Computer Synthesized Pictures, SIGGRAPH 77, pp 192–198.
- Blinn, James F.: A Generalization of Algebraic Surface Drawing, ACM Transactions on Graphics, 1(3), July 1982, pp 235–256.
- Blinn, James F.: Light Reflection Functions for the Simulation of Clouds and Dusty Surfaces, SIGGRAPH 82, pp 21–29.
- 1983, NASA Exceptional Service medal for Voyager Fly-by animation.
- 1983, SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.
- 1989, IEEE Outstanding Contribution Award for Jim Blinn's corner.
- 1991, MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of and to allow continuation of his work in educational animation.
- 1995, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Parsons School of Design for contributions to computer graphics.
- 1999, Steven Anson Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions to Computer Graphics.
- Official website
- First Environment Mapping Images
- What Microsoft has to say about Blinn
- SIGGRAPH 98 Keynote Address