Holy crap, I spent the day at home today, and was scanning my usual blogs when I read this shocking article that Pixarian Joe Ranft had been killed in an automobile crash. While I didn't know Joe personally, his infectious smile and humor were a regular feature of the halls at Pixar, as was his voice which would occasionally lapse into his Germanic Heimlich to good comic effect. He was only 45, and had many stories and smiles left to bring the world. The world has truly lost one of the good ones.
Cartoon Brew has some more recollections of Joe.
Holy crap, this sucks.
Addendum: My neighbor Sam sent me an email earlier today, asking me how things were at Pixar. I sent him back a routine email, since I hadn't heard the bad news. Today was a scheduled group river rafting trip which I bowed out on, since I have had bad experiences with river rafting the last three times I've went. Only later did I realize what he was really asking, after I read the news on Boing Boing. Serious bummage.
Addendum2: Ronnie Del Carmen reminisces more powerfully than I ever could.
Every once in a while, it disturbs me that there are parts of the computer graphics world that I rarely delve into, and simulation near the top of the list. I did spend some time fifteen years ago trying to understand inverse kinematics and the like, mostly in the context of robot motion planning, but all that knowledge has long faded. Still every once in a while, I try to dust off my brain and read a few papers on topics I'm not comfortable with, and maybe even stare at some code.
Luckily for me (and many others) there is a lot of good work being done and published. In the world of fluid simulation, some of the most accessible work has been done by Jos Stam, who kindly made his publications, notes, and code available on his webpage. His demo code is about 100 lines of C, includes nothing all that mysterious, and can be adapted to do more complex fluid flows. Check out this short movie to see it in operation. I'm thinking of adapting it to make a spiffy screensaver, mostly as an excuse to delve into its mysteries.