Blue Sky's Trip to Japan
(continued from page 2)

Day Two
Digital Hollywood is a well respected school for computer graphics in Japan. When we were first broaching the idea of a trip, they were very enthusiastic and eager to have us visit and present some of our ideas. But the presentation was later in the day so we decided that we should see a bit more of Tokyo before we had to get to work.

Akihabara is famous to anyone who has visited Tokyo with a view to going shopping. This is where all of the new and crazy electronic devices are sold at bargain basement prices. You get to see a preview of some of the products that will eventually be released to the rest of the world and some that will never see the light of day anywhere else. In fact we did get a chance to see the new Sega console, Dreamcast, way before its US release. The place is really, really crazy. On the day we went they had closed off some of the streets to aid shopping, and the place was crawling with people and street vendors who were selling anything from takoyaki (octopus dumplings) to Dual Celeron motherboards.

In fact it was so busy that we were starting to regret going there. We were all suffering from rather long flights and here we were deliberately tiring ourselves out before our presentation. But after a quick drink of Pocari Sweat and Vitamin Water, both of which are Gatorade style beverages, we were feeling pepped and ready to take on the adoring masses of fans with which we would soon have to deal. We were a little anxious because we were told that 200 people would be attending our first presentation.

Here's a picture of Digital Hollywood. The school was created in 1994 with the aim of helping students get a better grounding in various aspects of computer graphics. When we arrived we were met by Dr. Sugiyama, the founder, and he was nice enough to show us around. The school had a lot of equipment, most of which was really new -- we were quite jealous! After the tour we were given a little time to prepare for our talk.

I mentioned before that we were a little nervous. When we entered the hall it was full to bursting with people. But our fears were groundless, the presentation went off without a hitch. I think it was really helped by the fact that we did not have to speak in Japanese. As each of us gave our speeches Ayumu translated them into Japanese for us, paragraph by paragraph. Steve was first up and talked about the process of animating. Then Cliff talked about lighting and texturing and how radiosity was applied to our scenes. I was third and talked about the science of ray-tracing and Monte Carlo, radiosity followed by Justin who talked about his understanding of the different approaches that Western and Japanese animations take.

After the presentation was over, they threw us a really nice, fully catered party. Ichiro Tanaka and SGI of Tokyo were kind enough to organise and sponsor the event. We were introduced to all manner of people, students and professionals alike. In fact there were people from other industries there as well. One person had even come from Shiseido which is a cosmetics company. We were all presented with gifts. We could not have asked for a nicer reception. Here I must thank both Tomoko Hatanaka and Hiromi Ito for their invaluable help in organizing our presentation.

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