Who are the most important people in 3D? That's a difficult question to answer definitively, but what we can tell you is which ones artists admire the most. That's because every year, the CG Awards sees the industry vote for their favourites in the coveted '3D World Hall of Fame' category. And these are the three that came out on top in 2014.
In the meantime, here are the artists that were voted overall winner and runners up, respectively, in last year's awards...
01. Vladimir Koylazov
Whereas previous Hall of Fame awards have honoured directors and studio bosses, this year's shortlist celebrated the industry's unsung heroes: the developers who create the tools we all rely on each day. And what better winner could there be than a man whose work has touched every sector of the industry, from visualisation to VFX?
When it first became widely adopted in the early 2000s, V-Ray revolutionised the arch-viz market, making genuinely photorealistic images possible for the first time.
Since those early 3ds Max-only days, Chaos Group's raytracing renderer has been ported to a wide range of host apps – and in recent years, has made great strides into visual effects, with many viewing the prototype V-Ray for MotionBuilder as a stepping stone towards new, GPU-based, real-time filmmaking workflows.
"You can throw anything at V-Ray and be confident that you will get something out," says Chaos Group co-founder, and now Hall of Fame honouree, Vladimir Koylazov. "Artists push V-Ray and push us; we usually find ways to help them get results."
02. Ofer Alon
For someone who has changed the working lives of so many 3D artists, Ofer Alon has kept a remarkably low public profile.
Although the Pixologic co-founder posts regularly on the ZBrushCentral forums under the alias Pixolator, the first glimpse many people had of the man himself was at this year's Scientific and Technical 'Oscars', when he accepted an Academy Plaque for his work on ZBrush – a tool rightly described in the citation as "transforming how artists conceive and realise their final designs".
03. Eric Mootz
"I only work on things that are fun," says ace developer Eric 'Mootzoid' Mootz. "I don't make any grand marketing plans; nor do I look at the industry to find out what could make money."
The result has been a series of quirky, creative, largely simulation-related plug-ins – one of which, particle-meshing system emPolygonizer, was later integrated into Softimage.
Already a cult figure among Softies, Eric's recent decision to begin porting his tools to Maya, Modo and Fabric Engine is now exposing his work to a wider user base.
The CG Awards 2015
The CG Awards 2015 recognises the work of the entire industry: from software and hardware to artists and technicians. This year's awards are now open for nominations, so you can put forward your candidates right now. Just visit thecgawards.com and nominate in one of the 17 categories.