Willamette alumni lend computer graphics talents to new feature film

Two Willamette alumni got a unique close-up view of the film "The Last Airbender" long before it hit theaters this summer — by working on the project.

Yoichiro Aoki '00 and John Englund '06 used their computer and artistic talents to help turn the new film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, into 3D.

They both work for Stereo D, a recent Hollywood start-up that converts 2D imagery into stereoscopic 3D. Actor Giovanni Ribisi is one of the company's partners.

Englund, who majored in music composition with minors in mathematics and computer science, went on to earn a master's in computer science from the University of Southern California. He works as a programmer in Stereo D's developing department.

Aoki was a Tokyo International University student who studied at Tokyo International University of America in Salem and continued at Willamette to earn a degree in art. After graduation, he studied at a computer graphics school in Tokyo before earning a job at a computer graphics production company.

He eventually returned to the U.S. and now works as a CG artist for Stereo D. "The Last Airbender" is his first feature film project.

"I remember talking with my college professors about studying CG, and they said they looked forward to seeing my name in films in the future," Aoki says. "My dream has come true."