Tom DeWitt Ditto

Tom DeWitt Ditto, one of the founders of Canyon Cinema, has had notable achievements in both the arts and sciences. A Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation as an artist, a three time Fellow of the National Endowment of the Arts and a Fellow of the American Film Institute; he has also been named four times as a Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation and served as a Fellow of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts where he designed a novel telescope.

After an apprenticeship in film under Stan Vanderbeek in 1965, Tom DeWitt (he took the name Ditto when he married Beverly Botto in 1994) completed his first film, AtmosFear (1966), while a student at San Francisco State College. There he met Scott Bartlett and the two put together a unique light show based on film loops that eventuated in OffOn (1967). Returning to upstate New York where he still lives, he made The Leap (1969) and Fall (1971) using the facilities of WCBS in New York City where he traded his honorarium on Camera Three for access to Walter Cronkite's control room. His use of electronic media quickly progressed to electronic music, computer graphics, and laser light shows. His work appeared at ACM SIGGRAPH in the 1980's, notably his work with Vibeke Sorensen and Dean Winkler under the rubric WTV. Since 1990 his motion art works have been in 3D using the Pulfrich effect.

In 1976 while an artist-in-residence at the WNET TV Lab, DeWitt, a sometime mime under the persona 'Zierot le fou,' invented what is now called mo-cap or performance capture, a computerized version of the rotoscope process. In 1984 while working in the Image Processing Laboratory of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a computer programmer, he discovered something he called Diffraction Range Finding, a variant on holography. The patent and research in optics that followed constitutes his primary work as an inventor today.


Fall (1971)
Leap, The (1968)
Atmos Fear (1966)