Chris Bregler “Performs” At The Newton Lecture Series


September 12, 2016


Students posing for group photo.

Chris Bregler currently works at Alphabet (Google (Alphabet (Google))), which would be surprising if you didn’t know where else he has been. Bregler lies right in the middle of academia and professionalism. He has added to the scholarly world of knowledge during his time at Stanford and NYU. Simultaneously, Bregler has built the future of media by providing it with the necessary technological tools. From Disney, HP, Lucas Film, Oculus, and the New York Times, Chris has constantly added to the effects field to make his concepts into our movies. All of this has led to widespread recognition in the forms of an Academy Award for Science and Technology, his christening as a Stanford Joyce Faculty Fellow, and even an Olympus Prize. An entire life of work squeezed into one room and onto one stage. This is the Newton Lecture Series. This is an opportunity to digest esoteric knowledge. This is an opportunity.

On Wednesday at 6PM, Chris Bregler came to speak for the Newton Lecture Series. The Newton Lecture Series is a space for students to hear from those unconventional, but now essential, people from fields everywhere. Entrepreneurs and innovators, like Chris Bregler, come to share their ideas and stories with students who are looking for guidance in this complex, competitive, hectic world.

The room was loud with small talk and large ideas. The only thing louder was the silent sense of anticipation that ran through us all. Rows and rows of students and students, but within us was Chris Bregler, a living amalgamation of hard and soft science. There he was just a few seats away. A few years of hard work away.  He sat in Sibley Auditorium after being at Disney, Lucas Film, Hewlett Packard, and Oculus. Mr. Bregler had sat in those same seats years ago as a Berkeley student. True proof that the wall that divides instructor from student can be crossed.

“So now I have to actually deliver,” Chris said as he casually carved his own way onto the stage. Bregler began to tell his story with personality exploding through the crevices of his presentation. “No one was really interested in capturing human motion,” he explained to us all. The discouragement in his voice combined with his success encouraged us all to think past opposing forces. To the world of film and academia, Bregler was an “outsider.” But how did this outsider find his way inside? Inside of powerful institutions like NYU and Lucas Film? Inside of our homes? How did he come to influence the world of film and technology so much? It was because he continued. He strove to find his place. Despite the fact that motion studies was still so new, Bregler was able to network his way into spaces that supported his ingenuity. From UC Berkeley to Hewlett Packard, to realizing that his creative potential could create new forms of thought.  In a world that inculcates most of our values, habits, and beliefs, Chris showed that it is possible to think outside the box inside the box.

Bregler’s presentation definitely extended itself outside the box that was Sibley Auditorium. His words brought the world to us as he spoke about motion capture, motion art, and artificial intelligence. It was amazing how amazing this man was. How far ranging his interests were and how much further their practical application. Problems are everywhere, which means solutions are everywhere too. Who knew that motion capturing systems could resolve issues for Olympic swimming, terrorist threats, and symphonic music? Well… Chris Bregler knew. For example, people armed with explosives stand differently then the most of us since they are not used to the weight they’ve strapped on. This means that their body positions itself abnormally, which means it can be tracked. He explained how he loved problem solving within the process of solving problems. Every conundrum comes with chaos, but it is important to make the best of the worst.

Creating new creations is a great way to create your own career path. Your work and interests might not have a place, but that just means you are pushing for development and innovation. Dreaming up new methods of existing will form new realities. Just dream and reality will follow. So, if Chris Bregler’s “performance” taught us anything, then it is that trail blazing is a great way of getting to the top of a mountaintop. Or be a Bregler and build your own mountain.

As his presentation wrapped up, questions shot up from the audience. Lessons poured out of his mouth and into our ears.  When it came to asking for advice on entrepreneurship, Chris responded with “This is one of the best places to be…If you follow your passion you go right on the long run.”
The clock struck 6:08PM. Applause. Clap. Applause. Clap.

“I don’t believe in wasting time. Whatever you do now will help you later. You need detours to get to your passion.”