He's worked on movies and helped bring characters to life.
"I worked for four years on Dinosaurs," Christopher Oakley, an assistant professor at University of North Carolina Asheville, said. "I also worked on a project called Magic Lamp."
The one-time Disney animator now teaches new media at UNC Asheville. But when it comes to one particular real-life historical figure, Oakley comes to life.
"I've always been fascinated with Lincoln," he said. "I've drawn Lincoln, I've sculpted him, I've painted him."
So as a challenge, he assigned his students The Virtual Lincoln Project. The idea behind the project is to re-create the Gettysburg address through animation. To do that, he had to study pictures of President Abraham Lincoln. And as he studied a picture taken back in 1863, he said he saw it.
"I thought, 'Oh, who is that?' And then it struck me, 'Oh my God, that's Lincoln!'" Oakley said.
To make sure, he took a Photoshop picture of Lincoln over the blurry image he spotted in the picture and said he got an exact match.
"I wrote the Library of Congress and said, 'Have you ever scanned at a high resolution the left side of this?'" Oakley said.
The child who admired the 16th president and brought characters to life never imagined this.
Back in 2007, another historian studied the same picture and pointed to a different man as Lincoln. But Oakley said new technology shows that man with epaulets on his shoulders, which were ornaments given to those who served in the military.
Oakley said he also identified Secretary of State William Seward before he noticed Lincoln. He said he also found Alexander Gardner in the picture, a man credited for taking the snapshot. Oakley said he believes Gardner's assistant took the picture, but Gardner filed it.
Oakley said he bought a copy of the high-resolution version of the picture from the Library of Congress for $73.
"It was the best $73 I ever spent," he said as he laughed.
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Monday, September 15 2014 1:00 PM EDT2014-09-15 17:00:00 GMT
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