Meet the CMIC leaders bringing international connections and expertise to the University

The Computational Media Innovation Centre (CMIC) has recently moved into custom-built premises in the heart of Wellington, helping them connect with the digital industries, bringing the latest research straight to industry and bringing industry practice to staff and students at Victoria University of Wellington.

This new location will build on the already extensive international experience and connections brought to CMIC and Victoria University of Wellington by the CMIC senior leadership team: Professor Ken Anjyo and Associate Professor Taehyun (TJ) Rhee, Co-Directors at CMIC, and Meredith Meyer-Nichols, Prototyping Leader at CMIC.

Professor Ken Anjyo has led Research and Development divisions for over 35 years including at OLM Digital and Imagica Group in Japan, focussing on computer graphics and its applications. He has published on computer graphics in many international journals and worked on animated films such as Spawn, Pokémon, Yokai Watch, and Rudolf the Black Cat.

Professor Anjyo joined CMIC to help further the connection between industry and academia.

“My recent research has been completed in collaboration with gaming and film production companies,” Professor Anjyo says. “Joining CMIC gave me the chance to strengthen these collaborations and other industry-academic collaborations around the world.”

He hopes to attract researchers to CMIC from all over the world to do research or launch start-ups in visual media. His biggest highlight since joining the Centre is being the Chair of the SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 Conference, which is a prestigious international conference in the digital field. Several researchers from CMIC also had the opportunity to showcase their work at SIGGRAPH Asia.

Associate Professor Taehyun Rhee has led many commercial projects and more than 10 international research collaborations resulting in 29 patents, 2 industry standards, 10 software programmes, 200 commercial products, and many research publications. Before joining the University, Associate Professor Rhee worked as a principal researcher leading Computer Graphics and Mixed Reality research at Samsung.

Since joining the University in 2012 he has helped start the Computer Graphics programme and research lab and founded mixed-reality start-up DreamFlux, whose tech is currently under alpha-testing with 12 global companies. He has won several awards for his work, including the KiwiNet Research Entrepreneur Award.

Associate Professor Rhee hopes to support other researchers to conduct cutting-edge research and help entrepreneurs progress their start-up ideas through CMIC.

“I want CMIC to be an international research hub for digital media that fosters cutting-edge research,” Associate Professor Rhee says. “I also want CMIC to foster a globally competitive programme for university-led innovation and entrepreneurship, and I want to link our cutting-edge research and entrepreneurship and support talented researchers and entrepreneurs to pursue their goals.”

Meredith Meyer-Nichols is an experienced producer in visual effects and virtual and augmented reality. She spent 15 years as a producer of visual effects at companies such as Weta Digital, Framestore, and ILM before starting to explore VR/AR and the use of this technology in storytelling, first at Framestore and more recently at Wrestler and Wingnut AR.

Her film credits include Avatar, The Adventures of Tintin, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Beauty and the Beast. As Prototyping Leader at CMIC, Meredith is responsible for the commercialisation of CMIC research.

“I have always been drawn to new technology, and I’ve been involved in research and development for visual effects in a number of my previous roles,” Meredith says. “After returning from London in 2017 I decided to try to use my professional background to contribute to something more than a film or VR experience. At CMIC I can help put New Zealand at the forefront of the global tech industry where I believe it deserves to be.”

Although it is early days, Meredith says she is proud to be part of New Zealand’s flourishing tech ecosystem, and she hopes to take CMIC’s innovations to the world.