Interview with RAVV Consultant Prof. James O'Brien

James O'Brien is a renowned professor of computer science at UC Berkeley. Today, O'Brien serves as a consultant to RAVV where he provides input for our various projects. We had the chance to sit down with him for a brief interview.



In 2015, James O'Brien was recognized for his work and given an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. O'Brien's research has been published in many prestigious publications, and his work on destruction effects has been featured in over 100 films within the past 5 years.


Q: What does your research consist of?

A: “The research that I have done in my lab focuses mainly on computer simulations and physical systems for generating the movement and animation that you see in films. If you've watched a film and seen special effects such as Godzilla rushing a building, or The Incredible Hulk smashing something, spaceships crashing into each other, this is all done nowadays using a technique called "computer simulation" that actually models the physics of it. A lot of the techniques have been developed in the lab here by my students, in collaboration with people here at UC Berkeley and also some other institutions that we’ve had good collaborations."


Q: What do you think of the development of AR/VR?

A: “I think a lot people are starting to pay attention to them now. There is a lot of excitement and activity coming on the side of the software building the hardware and creating certain experiences for users. I think a lot of people don’t realize with AR/VR that the ideas have been around in the early 90’s. But then the technology was big and clunky to work with. Today it’s become much smaller, easier to work with and cheaper. But in some ways the technology has changed but the fundamental idea has remained the same.” 


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