Catmull was hired by George Lucas in 1979 to run Lucasfilm's Computer Division, the department charged with developing digital and graphics technology for films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The division later became Pixar, headed up by Catmull, Apple's Steve Jobs and Disney stalwart John Lasseter.
During his time at the helm, Catmull helped develop Pixar's RenderMan software — the driving force behind every Pixar animated film since 1995's breakout feature Toy Story. According to Pixar, RenderMan has been used in almost every Visual Effects Academy Award-winning and -nominated film over the past 15 years.
Catmull has won five Academy Awards himself, including two Scientific and Engineering Awards and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for lifetime achievement in computer graphics.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Catmull reflected on his decades in the film industry.
"Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived of the path or the extraordinary people I have worked with over all of these years — the twists and turns, the ups and downs, along with exhilarating passion, talent, and dedication that have led to something extraordinary, something that has an enduring impact in the world," he said.
Catmull is set to step down from his role as president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios at the end of this year before formally retiring in 2019.
Pixar has been contacted for comment.
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