Robert Abel

1937 - 2001 Artist

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Robert Abel & Associates was founded in 1971 by Bob Abel, with his friend and collaborator Con Pederson. Able had done early film work with Saul Bass and camera work with John Whitney. After touring with several rock bands documenting the concerts, Abel joined Pederson to adapt the camera system used for 2001 to general film effects work. Early expertise was in multiple stop motion photography rigs and special film effects layouts. At one point Abel & Associates employed nine horizontal motion control tracks, several 360 degree motion-controlled boom arms, optical printers front and rear projection systems, and vector and raster graphics systems. Abel did early innovative work in vector graphics, including famous spots for 7-Up and Levis. Abel was one of four companies (III, Digital Effects and MAGI) contracted to do graphics for the Disney movie TRON in 1982, after Disney worked with Abel for promotional materials and the opening sequence to The Black Hole. He later got heavy into raster graphics with software developed by Bill Kovacs, Roy Hall and others through a division called Abel Image Research.

The Abel raster software was later developed into the Wavefront Technologies product when Bill Kovacs purchased the rights to it in 1987. Key Abel raster work included a short demo film entitled High Fidelity, ads for Benson and Hedges and TRW, the Sexy Robot (after Fritz Lang's 1926 robot in Metropolis?) ad titled Brilliance, and the opening sequence for Spielberg's Amazing Stories television show. Abel garnered multiple Clio awards and had arguably the finest collection of art directors in the industry. Their strength was in the ability to bring the knowledge of traditional effects work, cinematography and film making to the area of CGI. Abel was acquired in October, 1986 by John Pennie of Omnibus Computer Graphics of Canada for $8.5 million.

In 1987, Omnibus defaulted on investments and closed Abel, DP and Omnibus on March 27, 1987. Many former Abel animators and directors were instrumental in starting or working for high quality CGI companies, including Rhythm and Hues, Metrolight, Sony Imageworks, Santa Barbera Studios, Boss Films, Kroyer Films, deGraf/Wahrmann, etc. Abel went on to be an Apple Fellow, and now is with his own company, Synapse Technologies, and is currently producing two interactive multimedia projects for IBM, "Evolution" and "Revolution," as well as a project about flight for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He also is affiliated with the Center for the Digital Arts at UCLA.

[Source: Robert Abel & Associates Website]