Helmut Kungl, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), XYZ RGB Inc.
3-Dimensional Thinker, CEO, XYZ RGB
Helmut’s 3D technology innovations led to an Academy Award nomination for technical achievement for him and the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC invented a new laser scanning system that XYZ RGB applied to Hollywood movie production. The technology changed the nature of the film industry. 3D reproductions have unmatched realism. “When was the last time you questioned if something was or wasn't real? These days, the 3D is so good you can't tell,” Helmut says.
3D scanning is now a force. More and more films use the technology to create virtual stunt doubles that are nearly indistinguishable from real actors. Helmut has played a big part in advancing this technology as it was simply not used prior to XYZ RGB’s innovations. Hollywood filmmakers use 3D actors and objects in scenes that are dangerous or impossible in real life.
So where does Helmut get his ideas? He finds many of them in university papers by graduate students. Often these ideas go nowhere unless people like Helmut seek them out. He sees universities as huge think tanks filled with bright students. When he finds something new, he licenses the work and brings it to life. His team of nine innovators mashes up the arts and computer science to design, implement and release cutting-edge technologies.
As the company’s lead innovator, Helmut was instrumental in creating Scanner Killer - an application that lets you create your own 3D images at home with any two matching cameras (including smart phones!). This costs a fraction of the technology that XYZ RGB sells to Hollywood. Helmut sees value in making this low cost technology accessible, which is why he put five years into developing it. Scanner Killer allows people in countries without access to 3D scanning tech to create their own images.
A day in the life
“I spend a lot of time looking for and developing the next big thing,” Helmut says.
XYZ RGB houses over 20 different 3D scanning technologies, most of which the company itself invented. It also has access to extensive scanning facilities at the NRC. They’ve used the combined technologies to scan everything from military airplanes to museum artifacts, but their focus has always been on tools for moviemaking.
This rich technology toolkit is Helmut’s ticket to working on film sets around the world. “Just about everywhere I’ve wanted to go I’ve already been - from Germany to Japan to Bahrain” he says.
Why this job rocks
Even though Helmut has met numerous celebrities, travels all over and leads a cutting-edge 3D technology firm, it’s the people he works with that truly make him love his job. He revels in the atmosphere and the various talents they bring to the table.
Being his own boss is nice too. “There’s no one to hound me - I’m the only one who can fault myself,” he says.
- Helmut studied computer systems engineering at Carlton University and switched into industrial design.
- He got a job at a company that licensed technology inventions from the NRC. In his first year, he worked with the Canadian Museum of Civilization scanning images of Canada’s national treasures into a computer.
- After two years, he moved to a virtual reality company. He helped build 3D simulators to teach doctors how to perform surgeries.
- He later joined Arius3D in Toronto. He knew that if he took the job he would be in 3D forever. The money was good, the field was intriguing and his life was changed!
- Helmut moved back to Ottawa a few years later to start XYZ RGB.
Starting his own company was Helmut’s greatest challenge. He must research and develop 3D technologies, while running the business side of things. Helmut often works long hours so his company can succeed on the cutting-edge.
Tips for success
- Do what you love and love what you do. Attend university or college and allow yourself to be exposed to various ideas that will help you figure out the best option for you.
- Be patient – “My philosophy is eventually and hopefully you get to where you want to be – in the end, you’re trying to find that work that is creatively you.”
- Practice - If you love 3D, go home and do everything and anything you can to learn 3D. Practice both the artistic and computer sides to help you find your niche. At XYZ RGB, all employees have a background in 3D, but each has a special skill, such as modeling, lighting or software development.
- Be open-minded - No one course or experience will make you a genius in your chosen field. Take the fundamentals and learn how to make them shine.
- Be creative and feel inspired!
Want to learn more about Helumt's work, check out Sheena's blog post, Imagine a career innovating 3D technololgy for movies. Check out some of the films that Helmut's technology is used in, including Public Enemies with Johnny Depp, District 9, Lord of the Rings, Matrix Revolutions, King Kong, and more...