Bob Lambert, respected throughout the entertainment industry as a digital media trailblazer, died suddenly of unnamed causes on Friday at his home in Glendale, his family announced late yesterday night. He was 55.
Lambert spearheaded the creation and implementation of technology-driven new business models and systems for global Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations and startup ventures. He was a thought leader whose work spanned all platforms, from cinema and television to online and mobile. Lambert played a central role in the development of computer animated feature films and in the transition from film to digital cinema exhibition.
Lambert was a senior executive at The Walt Disney Company for 25 years until 2010, working in motion pictures, television, gaming, e-commerce and social media. In his final position at the studio, Lambert served as the senior technology executive in charge of strategic planning, intellectual property, patent strategy, standards and regulatory issues, and talent recruitment.
While working for Disney Feature Animation, Lambert conceptualized a strategy and methodology for replacing cel animation with CGI production. He selected Steve Job’s newly acquired company Pixar to design the software and oversee the collaborative process between the two companies. The resultant digital production system earned Disney an Academy Award for Scientific & Technical Achievement.
Lambert was also a founder and chairman of DCI, LLC, the six-studio consortium that laid the groundwork the historical transition of movie theaters from film to digital exhibtion by establishing and documenting digital cinema specifications that ensure a uniform and high level of technical performance, reliability and quality control.
Lambert was chairman emeritus and chief strategic officer of the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC@USC), a think tank that brings entertainment studios, technology providers and other key industry stakeholders together in order to improve digital entertainment initiatives.
Said Kenneth S. Williams, ETC@USC CEO and executive director, "Bob was one of the most respected technology executives in the media and entertainment business. Always generous with his time, his friendship and tremendous insight will be greatly missed.”
Recently, Lambert served as CEO of The Digital Firm in Los Angeles and was named executive vice president of strategy and innovation for The World Technology Network. He was also instrumental in launching CityWorks (X)po in 2011, the first national conference to explore the ascendency of small cities. Prior to Disney, he was executive director of development for Paramount Pictures.
Lambert was an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Technology Council and a fellow of the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers. He also served as a judge for the Collegiate Inventors Awards and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards.
Lambert held 30 patents in media technologies and was named an industry pioneer by ShoWest (now CinemaCon), outstanding alumnus of Virginia Tech, and received an Astrolabium Award from the International Electronic Cinema Festival.
Extraordinarily generous with his time, Lambert served on the board of directors for numerous universities, start-up ventures and non-profits, including USC, Virginia Tech, the American Film Institute and the FIRST program.
Lambert is survived by his wife Cheryl Murphy, brother Paul Lambert and nephew Nathaniel Lambert. The family has no immediate plans for a service and requests privacy. Contributions honoring Lambert can be sent to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (www.aspca.org/donate/).
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