09/12/2012 12:27 pm ET Updated Sep 13, 2012

Bob Lambert Dead: Digital Media Pioneer And Former Disney Executive Dies At 55

Digital media pioneer and former Disney executive Bob Lambert died last week of undisclosed causes, reports say. He was 55.

According to the Examiner, Lambert, who is best known for "taking Disney from film to digital cinema using CGI technology," has left an indelible mark on the world of digital animation.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and former colleague Bob Lambert," said Dick Cook, former chairman of the Walt Disney Studios. "Not only was he a great person, he was a highly respected visionary who forever changed the moviegoing experience by leading the motion picture industry into the digital era. His passing is a great loss."

The LA Times notes:

Lambert served as senior executive in various departments at Walt Disney Co. for 25 years, helping to usher Disney into the digital era.

While working for Disney Feature Animation, Lambert conceived a strategy for replacing cell animation with CGI production. He worked with Pixar to develop a digital production system that earned Disney an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement.

In 2002, Lambert also founded Digital Cinema Initiatives, a group of several studios (including Disney, Fox and Paramount) that work together in an effort to improve the standard of digital cinema and to streamline the transition from film to CGI technology.

According to the Examiner, over 60 percent of movie theaters now use digital screening equipment thanks to Lambert's leadership.

"Bob led us into the transition from celluloid film to digital and forever improved the quality of our films and our movie-watching experience. Few in our tech community were more respected or well-liked than Bob," said CEO Chris Dodd, chairman of MPAA.

Lambert was involved in several other digital media organizations, including the World Technology Network. He was also an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Technology Council and a fellow of the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Lambert held 30 patents in media technologies and was named an industry pioneer by ShoWest, the exhibition industry trade show now called CinemaCon.

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