Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics

The Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics is a private University. Until 1977 it was the Tokyo College of Photography, reflecting the fact that back in 1923, when it was founded, it was associated with the Konica camera company. Nowadays there are two divisions of the school, the arts-oriented school in Nakano, and the engineering-oriented school in Atsugi, about an hour south of Tokyo.

I met Professor Yuichiro Kume from TIP at SIGGRAPH 98, where he brought his latest research project, the "Fantastic Phantom Slipper", a foot interface demonstration. Personally, I liked anything that made SIGGRAPH attendees jump and stomp around in the Electronic Garden, so I got to talking with Professor Kume. He was kind enough to invite me to give a speech on Geri's Game while I was in Japan, so I went down to TIP and gave an hour or so's discussion on how we made Geri's Game.

There was a good-sized crowd at the talk in Atsugi, which was nice; all the more amazing because about half the students and faculty there came from the arts-oriented campus in Nakano, about two hours away by train, to hear the talk.I gave the talk in English, and Professor Kume was kind enough to translate it into Japanese, which was very hard since he wasn't familiar with animation industry terms. Fortunately, a professor from the arts school , Prof. Miyata, was also there, and he helped with the translation.

I didn't get a lot of in-depth questions (in my experience it's almost always diffcult to get a Japanese audience to ask many questions), but there was one young student there who asked a bunch of detailed RenderMan shader questions! It turned out he was working part-time in the CG production house in Tokyo while in school and had written a bunch of production RenderMan shaders! He was all excited because he knew not only about my talk but that Lola Gill and Tony Apodaca from the RenderMan group at Pixar were coming to Tokyo the next month.

I got a tour of Professor Kume's lab before the talk, then after the talk we went back there, chatted for awhile, and a group of us went to dinner. So here's that group of people... the meeting room at Prof. Kume's lab... TIP Conference Room
...out in the lab (that's Prof. Kume on the left in the nifty slippers)... TIP Lab
...on the Atsugi City bus that just happened to be decorated with Snoopy, not only on the outside but on the vinyl headrests on each seat... Da Snoopy Bus the (yummy) Shabu-Shabu restaurant we went to... Shabu Shab you!
...and clowning around in the front of the Odakyu Line train back home. It turned out most of this group lived up near where I was staying, a good one and a half to two hours' away by train, and make this commute 3-5 times a week. That's Prof. Miyata at the lower left. On the Odakyu Line
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  © 1998 Leo Hourvitz