Frontier of
Embodiment Informatics:
ICT and Robotics

Top Global University Project: Waseda Goes Global - A Plan to Build a
Worldwide Academic Network that is Open, Dynamic and Diverse

Naoya IWAMOTO

Portrait Visiting period September to November 2016
Visiting university UCLA
Visiting country and region Los Angeles, USA

Content of the study program

I took part in research on hair simulations under Professor Demetri Terzopoulos at UCLA for approximately two months. UCLA is known worldwide for research on physics simulations and character animations. The densely packed research time borne out of discussions with the research group is an unobtainable experience in Japan. There are many conferences related to computer graphics (CG) in the USA, and I was able to attend a conference called Motion In Games, which was held in San Francisco, where I participated in discussions with researchers and obtained valuable feedback. In addition to research, I visited many CG/visual effects (VFX) companies in Los Angeles, met with engineers, and investigated the video production studios at these sites.

Study results

During my stay, I performed literature reviews, selected my research topic, and followed up on prior research. By evaluating recently published literature on hair simulations, I decided to investigate technologies for real-time simulations using large amounts of simulated data. I spent a month researching the topic, but I was able to determine the advantages and disadvantages of recent methods for real-time physics simulations through participation in conferences and discussions with other students. I believe that these experiences will influence my own research. Finally, I plan to publish my results at next year’s conference.

My experience abroad

I lived in Santa Monica, a city west of downtown Los Angeles, where I experienced perfect weather with the ocean nearby, which was an extremely relaxing way of life. On the other hand, the US is a car-based society and life without a car is extremely inconvenient – I found myself at home during most weekends. I lived in a regular home and not a dormitory, making it more difficult to make friends; additionally, there were no classes for me to meet other students . However, I met many Japanese exchange students at UCLA. I visited a variety of VFX and animation studios, and found the work environment to be extremely attractive for engineers and researchers. I feel that the USA is a good environment for work, but living in Los Angeles might be slightly inconvenient due to its size, as I often traveled far if I wanted to eat a particular type of food.

Influence on my future career

I did some job-hunting while at UCLA, and visited VFX and animation studios such as Method Studio and Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles, and Pixar Animation Studios in San Francisco. I was interviewed for a Character Rigging Technical Director position at Method Studios; although I was not selected immediately, they did inform me that they would be in contact for future opportunities. The biggest hurdles are obtaining a work visa, especially since the steps necessary to obtain a work visa depend on whether or not you graduated from an American university or a Japanese university, and that these companies demanded an extremely high level of skill. I felt that being able to speak with engineers on site had a big impact on my future career options, and I truly believe that a foreign exchange study also provides opportunities for job-hunting.