Lance Williams was introduced to computer programming by Jef Raskin, worked for Robert Haralick at the University of Kansas, and studied computer graphics and animation under Ivan Sutherland, David Evans, and Steven Coons at the University of Utah.
He worked in the Computer Graphics Lab at the New York Institute of Technology (from 1976-1986) on research and commercial animation, and the development of shadow mapping and "mip" texture mapping.
Subsequently Williams consulted for Jim Henson Associates, independently developed facial tracking for computer animation, worked for six years in Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group and for three years at DreamWorks SKG. He completed a long-deferred Ph.D. at the University of Utah in August 2000, and received SIGGRAPH's Steven Anson Coons Award in 2001.
In 2002, he received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Columbus College of Art and Design, and a motion picture Technical Academy Award. He served as Chief Scientist at Walt Disney Feature Animation before joining Applied Minds, Incorporated, in 2004, to pursue biomedical research.
He worked subsequently in imaging and modeling at Google (March, 2006 to January, 2008), and served as Principal Researcher at Nokia Research Center Hollywood (2008 - January, 2012), where he headed a small team developing audio systems for a wearable (eyeglass) display. He most recently joined Nvidia Research in March, 2012, where he is developing animation technology.