From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Paul E. Debevec may be the only research professor whose laboratory subjects have included Charlize Theron and Will Smith. The University of Southern California computer scientist is about to take another unlikely step—from academe to the Academy Awards, for special effects. His pixel wizardry has been featured in films such as Spider-Man 2 and Avatar.
On February 20, in a black-tie geek gala hosted by the actress Elizabeth Banks, of Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Mr. Debevec will pick up an award in science and engineering for his work on digital facial-rendering technology. The 38-year-old professor leads the graphics laboratory at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. In Avatar, a futuristic film set among the alien Na’vi people on the moon Pandora, Mr. Debevec’s techniques helped map the faces of live actors onto digital puppets, creating astonishing realism amid fantasy. Back on Earth, he sees applications for the techniques in higher education.