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Robert Abel (March 10, 1937 – September 23, 2001) was an American pioneer in visual effects, computer animation and interactive media, best known for the work of his company, Robert Abel and Associates.
In 1971, Abel and Con Pederson founded Robert Abel and Associates (RA&A), creating slit-scan effects and using motion-controlled cameras for television commercials and films. RA&A began using Evans & Sutherland computers to previsualize their effects; this led to the creation of the trailer for The Black Hole, and the development of their own software for digitally animating films (including Tron).
Abel and Associates was contracted to provide Paramount Pictures the special effects for the first Star Trek movie, but was not able to deliver them, and was taken off the film.
In 1984, Robert Abel and Associates produced a commercial named Brilliance for the Canned Food Information Council for airing during the Super Bowl XIX telecast. It featured a sexy robot with reflective environment mapping and human-like motion.
Abel & Associates closed in 1987 following an ill-fated merger with now defunct Omnibus Computer Graphics, Inc., a company which had been based in Toronto.
In the 1990s, Abel founded Synapse Technologies, an early interactive media company, which produced pioneering educational projects for IBM, including “Columbus: Discovery, Encounter and Beyond” and “Evolution/Revolution: The World from 1890-1930”.