Summer Scholarship at CMIC: International Experience with Anime Company

With the help of the Computational Media Innovation Centre and Victoria University of Wellington’s Summer Research Scholarships, student Alan Eir worked his summer scholarship project 2018/2019 with Tokyo-based anime and CG animation production company OLM Digital. Read on to hear more about Alan’s experience.

What did you work on during the summer?

I worked on creating blurs that could be used in anime production—specifically, weight and motion blurs. I created Adobe After Effects plugins and would create different iterations of the blur.

Why did you apply for this scholarship?

I really enjoy computer graphics and anime, and I’m studying computer graphics, so this opportunity really piqued my interest. I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge.

What skills did you need to succeed during your scholarship?

In the interview I was asked about my knowledge of C++, memory management, image processing, multithreading and mathematics.

You worked on the project in New Zealand while OLM Digital is based in Japan. How did you communicate? Did it work well?

We mainly used Google Hangout and email to communicate. During the first couple weeks, the 4-hour time gap was an issue because at times I wouldn’t know what to do next and work would stagnate, however this was mainly due to the SIGGRAPH conference happening at the same time, which kept the OLM Digital staff busy. After those first few weeks, I just adjusted to suit the times in Japan—I knew that from noon (NZT), would be the best time to communicate and always asked about multiple tasks so that I always had something to do. Overall, I believe it worked well.

What challenges did you face during your project and how did you resolve them?

The biggest challenge for me was that at the beginning of the project I didn’t understand how to code AE plugins or use the SDK and I didn’t have access to the programs I needed to do the work. To solve this, I just sat down for about a week to learn the SDK by watching videos and reading through the code samples that Mark (OLM Digital, Senior Software Engineer) had sent me.

What did you learn from working in a professional environment?

There were many things that I learned having worked with professional people such as how to properly communicate, prioritise, take initiative when the professionals are unavailable and not to be overly self-conscious. I will definitely be using this experience in the future.

How successful was your project? Did you get good feedback?

I was able to create multiple types of blurs, ranging from a basic box blur to zoom and radial blur, with each blur having an input layer/map that could change what the output image would look like. I was told that thanks to the results they were able to test some new ideas that could be useful to artists.

Overall, how did you find the scholarship experience? What do you plan to do next?

I really enjoyed my experience. It was a really good opportunity and I learnt many things over the course of the scholarship. I have recently finished my undergraduate degree at Victoria University of Wellington, but I’m still deciding if I want to go back to study or go join the workforce. No matter which path I choose, I definitely I want to do something that involves graphics and computing.