Doris Kochanek is the chief of Visual Effects and Graphic Services at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal. While this may appear to be an unlikely position for a computer scientist, it fits in well with her eclectic background.
Doris was born in Germany in 1957, but came to Canada at age 17 to attend Pearson College in Victoria, British Columbia. Pursuing a broad range of interests, she graduated with the unorthodox major of mathematics, plastic arts, physics, and filmmaking--a mixture that turned out to be a hint of things to come. In 1976, she joined the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria, specializing in serigraphy (silk-screen printing). In addition, she started taking courses in computer science "just for the fun of it, as a form of left-brain exercise."
While completing her bachelor of fine arts degree in 1979, Doris started using computer plots as a basis for silkscreens and became interested in the emerging field of computer graphics. After that, Doris says "I decided to acquire a more solid technical foundation in computer science and, in 1982, I graduated with a master of mathematics in computer science from the University of Waterloo. I also started to work at the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada as an animator-programmer."
In 1985, Doris became a founding member of the NFB's new Centre d' Animatique, a state-of-the-art research and production facility for computer animation. There she developed computer animation and graphics software, managed a team of four researchers, and contributed in a technical and creative role to many projects--including the films "Transitions" (the world's first 3-D IMAX film, shown at Expo '86 in Vancouver), "Anniversary," "Mirrors of Time," and "Emergency."
In 1992, she assumed her current position as chief of Visual Effects and Graphic Services, managing 28 people working in animation photography, optical effects, film titles, graphic design, printing, and, most recently, digital imaging. Her background made her a particularly suitable candidate to spearhead the transition from traditional animation and optical effects to computer graphics and digital imaging--a technical revolution that is now happening throughout the film industry. Doris comments, "Computer graphics interested me from its early days because it represents a fascinating intersection of art and technology. Although 15 years ago I could have imagined the explosive growth of this industry, it has been a real thrill being a part of it."
Doris lives in Montreal with her life partner and their dog and cat. To relax, she grows vegetables, works with stained glass, or heads off to a little lake in the woods where she and her partner are renovating a 50-year-old log cabin.