Nobuo Takahashi is a team leader of the computer graphics research group at Namco Ltd. and a part-time lecturer at Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan, where he graduated in 1995.
Aside from his research work in character expression at Namco Ltd., his private work has won numerous awards including the Siggraph Electronic Theater and the Animation Theater in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2000. He has also won other international awards in France, Austria and Germany.
Q. How did you get involved in the 3D computer industry?
A. I was a teenager when first introduced to 3D computer graphics (CG). I was so impressed by a still image in a CG book, that I knew I had to get involved. My major in art college was oil painting. At the time, there was no access to CG at college, but there were a lot of students who were interested in this subject.
I was fortunate enough to know a researcher working at a CG lab in a large Tele-communications corporation where I was able to get hands-on experience with the equipment.
In 1995, with the knowledge and expertise I gained from the lab, I created my first 3D CG animation called Spheroid. I used PowerAnimator for this animation as part of my graduation project and it won the Siggraph 1995 animation festival. After graduation, I realized that I wanted to get a job in the field of computer graphics so I joined Namco, one of the large game title developers in Japan.
Q. How do you use Maya software?
A. I use Maya for both title development at Namco and for my own work, especially in the area of procedural modeling. I can't image my environment without Maya. Object Oriented Shaders in Maya are so flexible that I can create any look I want. Also, the GUI is so sophisticated and well designed that allows me to quickly find any menu I want. I believe Maya is the most powerful yet easiest to use 3D software package available on the market.
Q. What projects have you worked on?
A. At Namco, I work with a team where we research various techniques to create expressions in rendered animation. At the same time, I work on real-time game development and create my personal work. I also teach 3D computer graphics animation as a part-time lecturer at the college I graduated from.
Q. What makes this industry so exciting to you?
A. My achievements in research directly influence the video game market. Responses from users vary, but I feel I am a part of the whole process of creating new markets and trends. The development process is very dynamic and exciting.
Q. Where do you see the industry going in the next 5 years?
A. With the arrival of next generation game consoles with high performance graphics chips, more realistic 3D computer graphics will easily be available on home consoles. In addition, broadband networks are becoming popular in Japan. In 5 years, network infrastructure will be expanded and there will be more network based consumer games available. This may change the way games are created today and the technologies that are required to create these games.
Q. What words of wisdom do you have for anyone interested in entering the world of 3D computer graphics?
A. Inspiration for our creativity can be found everywhere. Observe things around you in daily life and try to find something new everyday. This will broaden your view as an artist. Insisting on one preferred approach will make your imagination stagnant. I also believe it is important to maintain a balance between your career and your life outside of work.