Canada Kicks Ass

Alias celebrates 20th anniversary
Date: Thursday, July 17 2003
Topic: Science & Technology

20th anniversary celebrations kick-off with company name change to its Canadian roots and commitment to 20 more years of innovation.

Alias Research in Toronto and Wavefront Technologies of Santa Barbara have a rich and interesting history that traces back to the early 80's.

Alias|Wavefront was formed in 1995 when SGI bought Alias Research of Toronto and Wavefront Technologies of Santa Barbara then merged the two companies.


Click here to view 20th Anniversary video! 41.8MB 13min]

History of Alias

CG History  


Stephen Bingham
Stephen Bingham was an unlikely high-tech tycoon. Lacking any formal engineering or technical training, he obtained a Master's degree in Canadian studies from Ottawa's Carleton University. He then served as the director of the city's National Film Theatre from 1980 to 1983, which allowed him to indulge in his love for movies and animation. It was a visit to Hollywood director George Lucas's renowned Industrial Light + Magic animation studios in California that inspired Bingham to form his own animation company.

Toronto, Canada – July 17, 2003 – Alias|Wavefront, a Silicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE: SGI) company, announced that today marks the start of its 20th anniversary celebrations and the launch of a corporate identity change from Alias|Wavefront to Alias. The name Alias signifies the rich heritage of the company and provides a simple yet powerful name that is well known throughout the 3D industry and beyond. The 20th year of the company has been an outstanding one to date and began with an Oscar® statuette for the development of Alias|Wavefront™ Maya® software.

“Being an industry leader for 20 years is absolutely amazing, but more incredible than that is what’s in store for the next 20 years. I am proud to be part of a company that teams with its customers to push the technology envelope to deliver more value,” said Doug Walker, president, Alias. “Contributing to the creation of some of the most defining moments of 3D history is an honor we share with these talented customers. We look forward to further developing these important partnerships in the years ahead.”

In the Beginning
Alias Research was founded in 1983, in Toronto, Canada, with Wavefront Technologies launching one year later in Santa Barbara, California. Both companies experienced strong growth and developed products such as Composer, Kinemation™, Dynamation™, Alias® and PowerAnimator™ through the late eighties and into the nineties. In the mid-90’s, the two companies were acquired and merged under Silicon Graphics as Alias|Wavefront. The goal of the merged company was to develop leading-edge software for producing the most realistic digital visual experience possible and it has achieved just that. With two product lines, it is a leader in its class. StudioTools™ and Maya software are the result of two companies bringing together their brightest minds and product development powerhouses.

New ‘Alias’ for Alias|Wavefront
The decision to evolve the name comes at a time when the company is pushing forward to launch new products and provide even greater value to the Alias customer base. “Alias will bring new products and services to market more rapidly over the next five years than ever before in our 20-year history. At the same time we are committed to continuing with our historical industry leading investment in both Maya and StudioTools,” Walker continued. “Our new name allows us to focus on building a single brand for new products going forward and frees up resources to invest in the products themselves.”

Along with the new name, comes a new logo and branding for the company. To read more about the launch of Alias and the story of the new logo, please visit

Defining Moments
The past 20 years are filled with exciting moments in computer graphics history and Alias software has played a role in some of the most defining moments:

  • Alias software was used to bring vision to life in such cutting edge films as Tron, The Abyss, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and to recent Oscar award-winning films Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Matrix, Shrek and For the Birds

  • In games, early favorites such as Donkey Kong Country, Star Control® II and Quake® took full advantage of Alias technology and most recently, six out of 10 top-selling 2002 holiday games were made with Maya software, including Madden Football 2003, SOCOM™: US Navy Seals.

  • Every major automotive manufacturer uses Alias software, from Audi® with its new Audi TT; to Renault with its Megane II, and our longest standing customer, General Motors

  • In product design, Alias customers are creating award-winning designs and world-recognized brands including Apple® computers, Nike® sports gear, Trek® racing bicycles, Herman Miller® furniture, John Deere® tractors, the Segway® human transporter and even Olympic torches.

“Two decades of pioneering the future of Industrial Design. Wow! For myself and others who have worked closely with Alias|Wavefront for most of those years, thanks for giving our profession the most powerful tool since the first napkin sketch,” commented Brian Baker of GM Design. “The Chevy SSR and the subsequent math revolution proved beyond a doubt that passionate production vehicles were possible using StudioTools. Thanks for the first 20 years and I’m looking forward to the future with you as a partner.”

“As computer graphics software has been developed and become more sophisticated over the past 20 years, Alias|Wavefront has emerged as a leader in the field – always propelling the technology to the next level - allowing us to produce more complex images,” said Jeff Kleiser, co-founder, Kleiser-Walczak. “We look forward to working with Alias over the next 20 years to pave the road into the future as digital film making becomes more and more ubiquitous in the entertainment and design worlds.”

Driving the Evolution of 3D Graphics Forward – The Alias Visualization Studio™
Alias will continue to fulfill its vision of the past 20 years - to develop leading-edge software and services to enable its customers to create, visualize and communicate the world's most compelling digital visual experiences. As part of delivering on that vision, Alias will launch the Alias Visualization Studio, a new state-of-the-art customer briefing facility equipped with best of breed technology from Alias and its partners. The Alias Visualization Studio will provide a space to share ideas and facilitate collaboration with customers and partners to define the future of digital visualization for film and video, games, automotive and industrial design and to help bring new value to markets where the potential of digital visualization is emerging. The Alias Visualization Studio will officially launch in Fall 2003 at the company’s headquarters in Toronto.

With the most innovative and advanced customers in the world developing products in design and entertainment markets that touch every aspect of people’s lives; from the cars we drive, to the films we watch, the interactive games we play and the running shoes we wear – Alias will continue to play a starring role.

Siggraph 2003
Alias looks forward to formally celebrating the 20th anniversary with customers, partners and the CG industry at Siggraph® 2003 where the annual AGUA@Night user group meeting will feature highlights of the past 20 years of the company. To register for AGUA@Night, please visit

About Alias
As the world’s leading innovator of 3D graphics technology, Alias develops software for the film and video, games, web, interactive media, industrial design, and visualization markets. In 2003, the company was awarded an Oscar for Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its development of Maya software, its professional 3D animation and effects package. Entertainment and games customers include: Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., CNN, Core Design Limited, Digital Domain, Disney, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic, Factor 5 LLC, Midway Games, Nintendo, Pacific Data Images (PDI), Pixar, Sega, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Square Co., Ltd., Warner Feature Animation and Weta Ltd.

This article comes from Canada Kicks Ass

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