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93. Eitan Grinspun

Codirector, computer graphics group, Columbia University

93. Eitan Grinspun
Rapunzel of Disney’s Tangled, known for her lustrous digital locks.

The Digital Hair-Care Scientist

Replicating the texture and flow of an animated character’s ’do is a challenge for artists, which is why Eitan Grinspun and a team of students at Columbia University are building programs that give computer-generated hair more pop. His group has coded certain physics properties, such as Newton’s law, into algorithms that simulate the natural collisions large amounts of hair tend to create. But it’s not all ones and zeros: He works side by side with the artists, which he says helps “support all the emotionality of a character.”

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His technologies have been tapped for big-name projects, including Tangled and The Hobbit, but Grinspun has larger ambitions: He wants to find a better way for curly hair to retain its on-screen groom. Of no surprise, Grinspun himself sports a curly mane.

[Everett Collection (Tangled)]

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.

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