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NYU Prof Awarded for Noise Algorithm

At a ceremony held this week at New York University, Ken Perlin, an NYU professor in the Media Research Laboratory in the department of Computer Science, was awarded $10,000 by visual arts software developer Trapcode for an algorithm he developed called Perlin Noise.

Perlin developed the noise algorithm and made it freely available to the public. It generates pseudo-random numbers that can be used to create digital effects like smoke and fog. Most notably, the algorithm has been incorporated into software products from Trapcode, the publisher of effects plugins that are widely used in professional and high-end motion graphics and compositing. These include Trapcode Shine and Particular, as well as the forthcoming Flux. (Particular is a particle generator for Adobe After Effects; Shine is a lighting effects plugin for After Effects.)

Said Peder Norrby, head of Trapcode, based in Stockholm, Sweden, told us, "My eyes where opened to the algorithm when I was working at Cycore back in 1999, and [the] lead developer for Cult Effects there, Jens Enkvist, implemented Perlin Noise for one of the plugins we made--which we later integrated into Adobe After Effects. The plugin is called "Fractal Noise" Jens explained a little bit how the algorithm noise worked in 2D and 3D, some years later I did an extrapolation of that into 4D, which is what Trapcode Particular and Trapcode Flux uses."

Effects based on Perlin Noise have been used in films like Matrix Revolutions and Sin City.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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