Daniel Langlois, a pioneer in the computer animation industry, was found dead on the Caribbean island of Dominica over the weekend. His body was found in a burnt out car along with his partner Dominique Marchand. Police are treating their deaths as “possible murders.”
Langlois and Marchand owned the luxury eco-hotel Clibri Ridge on the island. Police believe the couple were ambushed and shot, before their car burst into flames after falling into a ravine.
At least four people have been taken for questioning or detained, including Jonathan and Victoria Lehrer, a couple from New Jersey who owned a nearby chocolate farm.Langlois is involved in a lawsuit against the Lehrer family, who refused them access to the public road leading to the Langlois resort.
Denis-Charles Pemberton, a politician from the village of Soufrière, told the state radio channel that Langlois and Marchand played important roles in the community.
The last few days have been incredibly difficult for our constituency. Losing two members who were central to the development of our community and its spirit and togetherness is something we have struggled to put into words. Daniel and Dominique may be known for their village’s world-famous eco-resort, but to the people of the Soufrière constituency, and to me, they are kind, loving and truly community-minded. did. They truly loved the people of our constituency and had great plans for its development. After Hurricane Maria devastated us, I remember calling a meeting and calling on every organization, council and developer to come up with a rebuilding plan. Daniel and Dominic remained dedicated and offered assistance whenever approached, particularly with conservation and sustainability projects.
After Hurricane Maria in 2017, Langlois’ foundation funded the rebuilding of a local elementary school and pier.
Born in Quebec, Canada in 1957, Langlois earned a bachelor’s degree in design from the Université du Québec de Montréal (UQAM). He began his career working at various animation studios in Montreal, including the National Film Board of Canada, where he contributed to the technical production of René his Jodoin’s digital animation. rectangle and rectangle (1984).
“He explored and redefined the limits of computer animation.” [at the NFB]before his extraordinary and innovative mind created technology that revolutionized filmmaking,” Suzanne Guevremont, president of the National Film Board of Canada, said in a statement. “We will always remember his immense generosity and the importance he placed on education and supporting emerging talent. His contributions to the film industry are immeasurable.”
Another important project that Langlois contributed to was the 1985 film. tony de peltry This was an ambitious early attempt at CG dialogue and human animation. The film was a sensation at the SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Conference. time The magazine said the filmmakers “may have achieved a breakthrough: digitized characters that human audiences can relate to.” John Lasseter, a judge at SIGGRAPH that year, said at the time: tony de peltry It will be considered a groundbreaking work, as it was the first time a real, physical character was animated by a computer. ”
Frustrated with the current state of computer graphics software, Langlois came up with the idea of creating his own software. He founded his Softimage in 1986.
“This is a classic story,” Langlois told a television reporter in 1994. “I was an artist who was not satisfied with the tools that were put in front of me. [I] I tried consulting other companies to build these tools, but most of them were pure engineers and couldn’t understand what I was talking about. So I decided to create the tool myself. That’s the idea behind the company, and also behind the company’s success, because as the user, we were able to define how the tools should be made for the user. ”
In 1991, Softimage became the first CG software package to introduce inverse kinematics, which made Softimage the most dominant CG animation package in the early to mid-’90s. Industrial Light & Magic quickly applied Softimage’s new IK capabilities to their dinosaurs. Jurassic Park. Other iconic visuals from this era using Softimage. His effects-heavy works include: Titanic, The Mask, Independence Day, Men in Black, The Matrix, The Fifth Element, Jumanji, Flubber, and Death becomes her. George Borshkov helped develop the “bullet time” effect. matrix, Without Softimage’s software, this effect “would not have been possible,” he said.
Langlois sold the company to Microsoft in 1994 for $130 million. The company was then owned by Avid Technology from 1998 until 2008, and then owned by Autodesk, which discontinued the software in 2015. The video below is a solid history of Softimage, explaining what makes it special and how it has changed over the years as ownership changed. hand.
Langlois received many awards during his lifetime for his work, including the Oscar for Science and Technology and honorary doctorates from the University of Sherbrooke, McGill University, Concordia University, UQAM, and the University of Ottawa. He was appointed a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1999 and an Officer of the Order of Canada the following year, during which time he was also appointed to the City of Montreal’s Arts Department. Just last month, the Dominican government awarded Langlois a Distinguished Service Award.
After leaving Softimage in 1997, Langlois founded the Daniel Langlois Foundation, a private charity. The foundation aims to “bring art and science closer together in the context of technology on two levels: first, by fostering critical awareness of the impact technology has on ourselves and our society; by ‘the natural and cultural environment, and secondly, by promoting scientific research and the exploration of aesthetics that reflect the environments we shape. ”