Kevin A Bjorke

Cutting-Edge Computer Imagery for Web, Games, and Film
Creating & Guiding Content, Workflows, & Tools

2670 Webster Court

Santa Clara, CA 95051

kevin.bjorke@gmail.com

cel 650-762-6805   (650-ROBOT-05)

January 2013


Selected Reviews

"[Rift Storm Legion is] a really, really beautiful game. Breath-taking, in fact... the best looking things in gaming, period, right now." -- GamingTrend, Dec 2012

an undeniably gorgeous gameIGN

“One area where Rift definitely delivers is the graphics” The Escapist 

Outstanding” - Graphics Rating of 95  Ten Ton Hammer 

 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within: “Undoubtedly this year's most visually stunning movieArs Technica 

A mesmerizing technical achievement, and a breakthrough in the synergy... between digital gaming and moviegoing.” Entertainment Weekly

Last Flight of the Osiris: “the best of the Animatrix shorts” Rotten Tomatoes


Professional Experience

Trion Worlds, Redwood Shores, California. September 2008-December 2012.
Senior Technical Artist for the games RIFT and its sequel RIFT: Storm Legion. 

Supervised/created all of the shading and materials, artist pipeline & art tools for in-gameand support rendering, adding far more capability than the company had thought was possible without having to purchase a ready-made engine (e.g. Crytek or Unreal) -- including the creation of the required tools to enable these capabilities for the entire art and design departments. Doing this has required a proactive attitude and collaboration with artists, game designers, engineers, and hands-on mastery of Javascript, Python, WebGL/HTML5, JSON, Maya, Photoshop, HLSL, Cg, GLSL, C++, Qt, XML, Java, Perforce, and more. Quick response on standard requests was crucial, and I was often self-directed on initiating innovative ideas with large impact across the entire game. I’ve been pleased to notice that every review of this hit game begins with a rave about how great it looks.

Side projects included the creation of interactive free-standing and web-based data-exploration tools; paint systems, player social network analysis and visualization, and performance analysis based on actual player logs. At the time of my departure I was working on a machine learning system for performance optimization -- using data from players’ own computers and client logs (rather than expecting artists and engineers to guess about the thousands of possible PC-hardware permutations, to say nothing of various playing styles) to determine the optimal feature settings to deliver individual players’ prefered blend of image quality and framerate.

NVIDIA Corporation, Santa Clara, California. April 2002-September 2008.
Art & Technology Evangelist for developer marketing and content development (at NVIDIA, this encapsulates all game/film relationships & research)

Evangelism at NVIDIA is a blend of sales, innovation creation, education, and PR. Involved intimately with the definition and use of the Cg & HLSL shading languages, and CgFX format for realtime shading. Created numerous shaders & shader libraries, sample scenes, tutorials, educational talks, lab classes, online videos, tools. Visited and interfaced with a wide variety of production studios in both the film and game industries including Ubisoft, Bioware, EA UK, DICE Sweden, CoolIris, Funcom, SCEE, HiPiHi, Autodesk, Linden Lab, Dassault, Blizzard Entertainment, Traveler's Tales, Novoking China, Adobe, Avatar Reality, Sega US & Japan, CCP, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Sony Pictures, Microsoft. Advised NVIDIA’s business development group as the in-house expert on online gaming and virtual worlds. Worked with the software and architecture groups of NVIDIA to bring high-end 3D rendering capabilities into realtime hardware. Lectured at graphics developer events around the US and the world including Siggraph 2002 through 2007 (also as a committee member in 2006-2007 and a course reviewer since 2003), Game Developer's Conference GDC 2003-2008, Developer Deep Fry Austin, Online Game Developer's Conference 2007, XNA Gamefest 2006-2007, Iron Developer Tokyo 2003-2004, Gathering 2 and Dawn to Dusk London, GPU-BBQ Korea, International Conference on Virtual Storytelling (ICVS) Toulouse, Shanghai Jiaotong University, CEDEC Japan 2003 & 2007, and NVISION 2008. Contributed to the book "The Cg Tutorial," was an author and editor for all three editions of the "GPU Gems" book series. Managed the developer website and "one-to-many" relationships in addition to more direct consultation to key developer accounts. Worked directly with the providers of CAD and DCC tools (such as Maya, SolidWorks, 3DStudio Max, and SoftImage XSI) to ensure that high-quality realtime shading and physics were available at every 3D artist's desktop around the world.

Square USA, Honolulu. October 1998-April 2002.
Imaging Supervisor, which included tasks as Lighting Supervisor, Shading Supervisor, and Senior Layout Artist for the feature film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

Layout tasks included guiding the work of the department layout artists; reviewing story continuity and technical feasibility; designing camera work and staging for most of the film; directing scratch-track audio sessions; interfacing scene planning with mocap; designing and implementing layout- and editorial-related software and Maya Mel tools; and of course creating shots and sequences.

Lighting- and shading-related tasks included hiring (and firing) staff; developing a workflow and training all lighting artists; design and supervision of the RenderMan/MtoR rendering pipeline in use at Square for this large bilingual project, a task which cut across all production departments. To my knowledge, this was the world's largest MtoR site and also the largest RenderMan site outside Pixar and ILM. Designed interfaces, Mel scripts, shaders, workflows, photo reference, and training; developed systems monitoring procedures and help specify systems and pipeline issues for the studio as a whole; planned schedules and estimated expenses for the entire film. Designed and redesigned interfaces and setups for hair, skin, cloth, and sets. Provided studio-wide troubleshooting and metrics -- and of course also lit and shaded many shots myself.

Portions of the lighting and shading work became the basis of the Advanced RenderMan 3 course presented at Siggraph 2001 (Los Angeles), and Industrial-Strength Rendering at SoftExpo 2001 in Seoul, Korea.

After completion of Final Fantasy, a similar suite of tasks was performed for "Final Flight of the Osiris," a sequellette for AniMatrix, including design and execution to upgrade the entire render system, greatly expanding the shading and rendering power for modeling and lighting artists. This redesign accommodated not only toward greater control over the RenderMan process but also expandability for alternative future rendering pipelines.

Pixar Animation Studios, San Francisco Bay Area. May 1993-July 1998.
Animation Scientist, contributing to the feature films Toy Story and A Bug's Life; both Toy Story CD-ROMs; the Toy Story videogames; and the Clio-winning Listerine commercial "Arrows" (a.k.a. "Robin Hood").

On Toy Story, contributions included modeling and shading the characters "Rex" and "Etch;" creating numerous props in Andy's and Sid's houses, using Pixar proprietary software, Alias Designer, and Mac-based software of my own design; creating custom shaders for those models and many others in the gas station scene; executing and supervising scene layouts for numerous sequences, including the truck chase finale; performing a wide variety of "firefighting" animation support and cleanup; developing a number of key scene-building techniques, and rewriting the virtual-camera software (including esoteric uses such as special cameras for creating ViewMaster(TM) disks or performing 2D video game scrolling). Wrote software in a variety of common and proprietary languages.

For the Toy Story video games and CD ROMs, I functioned as the supervising technical director, providing general technical support, participated in most animation gag/story sessions, and created the animation and sprites for several game units, such as the "Buddy Builder."

On A Bug’s Life, focused primarily on layout, working in close cooperation with director John Lasseter, the story, and editorial departments  -- also rewrote the animation camera system (twice), adding such extras as depth of field and fog previews, pan-and-scan controls, and view-camera-style shifting, the 3D-stereo system used in later films, and powerful animation controls that permitted greater focus on the dramatic elements of the shot; created early crowd tests using the Blizzard particle system, and built the crowd tools used by layout and animation departments to rough-in all bulk crowd animation; wrote numerous animation utilities, documentation, and tools that enjoyed wide use among other layout artists, character animators, and TDs; more esoteric but widely-used tools such as the "waddler," "scooter," and "pivot" objects; and web-based tools such as the web interface to Pixar's image disk farm; provided direct firefighting support to the animation department; and did scene layout for hundreds of shots.

Lightmotive Entertainment, Los Angeles. March 1992-May 1993.
3D Supervisor and software developer for the live action feature film Super Mario Brothers

This project’s scope grew from two 3D background shots (“a couple of days’ work”) to over 170 digital effects. During the course of the production, built an entire production studio from the ground up, based on SGI and Macintosh computers, including the first film to use the now-ubiquitous Flame paint software. Supervised the operation and handling of in-house and out-of-house scanning, printing, and animation, purchased or specified or developed all software used in the production. Developed the kernel of the Blizzard particle-animation system as part of the tool set for this production (Blizzard was available commercially and was used by other studios for movie animation effects).

Acteurs Auteurs Associes (AAA)/Selena Audiovisuel, Paris. February 1991-January 1992.
Production manager, writer, and animation developer for the 3D animated film Kazhann

Kazhann was based on the bande desinné comic-book universe of Metal Hurlant founder Philippe Druillet. The intent (cut short by financing woes from a different AAA film!) was to create the world’s first all-CG animated movie. Tasks included the creation of budgets and detailed schedules for every aspect of the production; coordination of hiring and interviews; equipment purchasing; presentations to press and investors; software analysis and development for SoftImage and RenderMan animation and interfaces; character animation samples; agency and direct contacts with potential film directors in France, the USA, and Japan; script rewrites and translations.

Kevin Bjorke Computer Animation, Hollywood. January 1991-August 91.
Independant consultant on computer-based character animation for entertainment clients including Walt Disney Imagineering, Golden Era Productions, Full Moon Entertainment, IBM, and Barking Art. Invited speaker, Siggraph '91 (Las Vegas), in a RenderMan talk similar to (but expanded from) that from the previous year.

deGraf/Wahrman, Inc., Los Angeles. March 1989-January 1991.
Co-owner/developer/generalist

Computer animation production and software development in a varied environment including Silicon Graphics, Sun, Symbolics, and Ardent workstations; Apple Macintosh and Commodore Amiga; Sony 1125/60 (including the creation of world's first digital HDTV studio); with Pixar, Symbolics, Wavefront, in-house and other software. Animation projects included a Sony HDTV promotion for the Disney/MGM studio tour; The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, a 70mm simulator ride for Universal Studios Florida; and three widescreen 3D park attractions for Sanrio in Japan and the U.S. Worked closely with the clients of all of these projects, from initial bidding stages through design, production and delivery. Software projects included RScript, a script-based programmable front- end program for RenderMan renderers; MMaker, a patch-and-polygon-based geometric modelling program that directly manipulates RenderMan "RIB" files; revisions of Perform, a real-time 3D electronic puppetry program; image-processing and translation programs for Pixar Picio, TIFF, Symbolics, SGI, X-Windows, Postscript, PICT, and IFF; and a special 3D renderer for creating cel animation on paper. Spoke at the Siggraph '90 (Dallas) course on The RenderMan Interface, and contributed to the book The RenderMan Companion.

R/Greenberg Associates, New York. January 1988-March 89.
Director of 3D Software Production and Development 

Wrote and supervised rendering pipelines and software, real-time animation tools, modellers, and digital video support (D1, aka 4:2:2) on Sun workstations, VAX, Pixar Image Computer, Pixar RenderMan Accelerator, AT&T Pixel Machine, Iris 4D, Sony D1, Abekas A60/64, Mac II, Amiga. Was Pixar's first off-site production user of RenderMan. Animated 3D spots and special projects; consulted for network newsrooms; helped specify and build New York's first all-D1 video suite; and lectured at the Siggraph '88 course 3D Character Animation By Computer with Bill Kroyer and John Lasseter. Programs written included Boing, a program which allowed the user to freely deform 3D models in a "claymation" style by drawing deformed outlines around them, and Hop, a hierarchical, interactive 3D motion editor.

Kroyer Films, Hollywood. July-December 1988.
Startup employee #4 (#3?)

Developed Kroyer's unique modeling, animation, and rendering environment, mixing 3D animation with traditional cartoon cels for the animated TV series UltraCross and the 1988 Oscar Nominee Technological Threat. Wrote a full-featured 3D object editor for the SGI Iris 3130 that was compatible with Wavefront's "PreView" software, and the Kroyer hidden-line rendering system.

Digital Productions, Robert Abel & Associates, Omnibus Simulation, Los Angeles. December 1984-March 1987.
Senior Technical Director.

Animated, produced and supervised television and cinema commercials, music videos, broadcast graphics packages and special-project films -- all of involving heavy use of computer graphics. Used COS, VMS and Unix operating systems; IMI, SGI, VAX, Macintosh and Cray computers; Fortran, C, Smalltalk, Forth, Lisp, and other more esoteric languages, some of our own design. Initiated, wrote and maintained software projects, including the core filming drivers of the DP3D system; 3D model generators and processors such as "graftal" garden generators; 2D & 3D typesetting utilities; 2D texturing programs; particle system manipulators; paint programs; and "robotic" automated-animation aids.

National Pixel Products/Consultant, Los Angeles/New York. 1983-1987.
Independant Consultant & Game Developer while in college.

Clients included Sunrise, Inc. and Timex/Sinclair Computers, writing utilities and games for the as-of-then unreleased Sinclair Spectrum (Timex 2068). Other clients included Chem Sources, Inc., of Mission Hills, CA; Ampex Corporation; Activision/Mediagenic. Also wrote "shareware" programs such as a revision of the CP/M Small-C compiler, the ALGOL-M interpreter, the much-used Phantom RBBS, and the portable and much-copied game Core Wars. Under the National Pixel Products banner, offered Amiga diversions, animation and CASE tools (a prominent customer was Lotus Corp). Also produced animation for the Stuart Gordon feature film Robo-Jocks, and Max Headroom for President for Coca-Cola.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Los Angeles. Fall 1982-Spring 1984. Co-taught (with Geoff Fennel) the Advanced Computer Graphics Workshop; Assistant to Kris Malkiewisz (author of Cinematography); Camera & Recorder technician. Freelanced as a gaffer during this period.

ABC Television/KSTP-TV, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Summer 1981.
Interning Associate Producer of Twin Cities Today, a one-hour daily local news-and-talk program with an audience roughly the same size as that of Good Morning LA.

Gospel Films/Golden West, Inc, Los Angeles, Fall 1980.
Assistant Director and SPFX animator on Where's the Barn? a half-hour animated film.

Century Communications Inc., Minneapolis, Spring 1978-Fall 1979.
Manager of a professional photo/cine equipment house, sales and rentals. Worked as a commercial photographer/assistant during the same period.

Donaldson's, Minneapolis, Fall 1976-Summer 1977.
Special Events Advertising -- named in Seventeen as a “nationally outstanding young advertiser.”

Little Bit Magazine/Little Bit Publications Inc., Minneapolis, Fall 1974-Spring 1977.
Assistant editor & writer at this city-wide magazine. Also wrote the cover story for the first issue of the sister spin-off magazine, Little Bit of Houston.

 


Awards

Clio 1994 - Best Computer Animation, Listerine Arrows (Modeling and Shading).

Prix Pixel (Monte Carlo) 1991 - "Effets Speciaux," Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera (Supervising Technical Director).

Clio 1988 - Best Computer Animation, LBS Fantasie (Supervising Technical Director).

Clio 1987 - Best Computer Animation, Samsung Human Tech (Animator, Supervising Technical Director).

Monitor Award 1987 - Best Technical Direction, Marvel Spiderman (Supervising Technical Director).

Clio 1986 - Best Computer Animation, STP Engine (Animator, Supervising Technical Director).

Billboard Music Awards 1986 - Best Animated Video, Hard Woman (Supervising Technical Director).

New York International Festival 1986 - Silver Medal CGI, Samsung Human Tech (Supervising Technical Director).

Parigraph (Paris) 1986 - Prix Animation, Hard Woman (Supervising Technical Director).

NCGA 1986 - 2nd Prize Commercials, Samsung Human Tech (Supervising Technical Director).

Houston Film Festival 1985 - Best Music Video, Hard Woman (Supervising Technical Director).

Prix Pixel 1985 - "Clip" for the Mick Jagger video Hard Woman (Supervising Technical Director).

Prix Pixel 1985 - "Realisme et Simulation" award for collected work (Various roles: TD, Supervising TD, Animator).

NCGA 1985 - Best Video, Hard Woman (Supervising Technical Director).


Education

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Los Angeles. Fall 1980-Spring 1984. BFA degree in Live-Action Film and Video, with a minor in Theatre (acting). After graduating, have appeared at CalArts as an invited "visiting artist" lecturer in animation.

UCLA, Summer 1980. Program in Fiction Writing.

Sherwood Oakes Experimental College, Hollywood, Fall 1979-Spring 1980. Programs in TV sitcom-writing and in standup comedy performance, also screenwriting with John Milius (Apocalypse Now).

Film in the Cities, St. Paul. Spring 1980-Fall 1980. Studied film making and film analysis under Frantisek Daniel, former dean of the Czech state film school and the AFI.

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul. Filmmaking program.

St. Anthony Village HS, Minneapolis. National Merit Scholar honoree. Taught a computer mathematics course as an upperclassman; had been using mainframe computers (Cyber-60's and 70's) since the fourth grade, and making animated films for about the same length of time.

In addition I’ve always pursued ongoing education. Recent courses online have included Algorithms and Machine Learning through Stanford University, Gamification from Wharton, Social Network Analysis through the University of Michigan, Brain Structure & Its Origins through MIT.

 

Kevin Bjorke - Detailed CV -January 2013 -