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Computer graphics internships

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Hey everyone,

 

I have a civil engineering degree with a specialization in computer science (i.e. my bachelor consisted of 1,5 years of engineering courses from multiple disciplines, the remaining part of my bachelor and master consisted of only computer science related courses) from a Belgium university. Currently I am pursuing a PhD in computer graphics. Originally, before all of this when I was still in middle school, I wanted to contribute to the development of computer games as a programmer. So in that respect, computer science was a safe educational choice: broad enough to comprise plenty of different career possibilities but still closely related (of course you must make the connections yourself) to all the important aspects of for instance the architecture of a game engine. Furthermore, I got attracted to the specific domain of computer graphics since in my opinion it gives the most satisfactory results. My computer graphics track, however, consisted primarily of physically-accurate ray tracing (as opposed to the graphics pipeline which was never used in practice) which I regret. Don’t get me wrong, writing and extending ray tracers still gives chills upon seeing the rendered images, but somehow especially now during my PhD it feels like I am starting to diverge from my original goal which I always kept in mind during my education.

 

So I am now looking for a possible computer graphics internship in some game company for several reasons:

  • During the working hours, I now work on my ray tracing stuff and afterwards I started learning and practicing with the graphics pipeline (D3D11/HLSL) which feels so more rewarding. When I got more comfortable with the matter at hand, I hope to switch my research in this direction. An internship seems ideal for accelerating my process, increasing my experience and moving my interests to the foreground (primary tasks of the day).
  • Everyone in my working environment kind of treats game graphics as some inferior hacks and does not seem to appreciate the quality of the results in a real-time context. This is real real-time rendering of >60fps as someone once said at a SIGGRAPH session not academic real-time rendering of <5fps (assuming you have a killer CPU/GPU and a huge temporal coherence). An internship could create a healthier, more encouraging and challenging environment.
  • Finally, pursuing my PhD currently feels like living in solitude on some abandoned island. Nobody really cares or collaborates, you just do research on your own day in day out. Instead, I would rather like to cooperate in some multi-person team (here I am not only referring to the complete multidisciplinary team comprising a game company such as artists, developers and programmers, but to the rendering group of a game company as well).

In my home country, there are not really any opportunities in the gaming industry. Relocation is, however, not an issue for me (For the company, however, I understand that this can be a burden). Furthermore, the game industry does not blow one's own trumpet like for instance animation studios. In companies like Pixar and Adobe there seem to be plenty of internships available for graphics researchers with all kinds of degrees. Currently, I am only aware of Ubisoft’s Graduate Program.  Unfortunately, this does not seem to be aimed at graphics programming but more at game developing and business support. The duration of 2 years is also problematic for my PhD since I would need to give some serious argumentation (i.e. how many journal publications?) since I am funded. I currently contacted companies like CDPR and R* via email with my cv/degrees/portfolio etc. since I admire their games which are technically superb, they are large cooperations, and are also located in Europe (which feels a bit closer to home than USA/Canada). But none of them replied. (Feels a bit like a huge rejection. They probably obtain thousands of somehow similar emails, but they could at least have prepared some default answers from which they could send a quick reply.)

 

So now I am wondering, if someone knows game companies organizing or at least being vacant for internships for graphics programmers? Or if someone has some similar experiences, he/she likes to share? Sorry for the long post. I really appreciate your help.

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http://careers.ea.com/software-engineering-games

https://www.activision.com/careers/students

http://www.nvidia.com/object/universityrecruiting-internships.html

https://careers.unity.com/position?id=274040

https://careers.microsoft.com/students/internships

 

Some of these companies don't have you apply to be a "graphics programmer intern" but rather enroll you into a general intern program. They'll place you in a team and role as part of the process. I would also expect more internships to be listed early next year for summer.

Edited by Promit

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I wonder whether this is because game companies are not academic institutions... I didn't do my phd in this subject (so I know more about science than IT side of this), but there can be a pretty wide gulf there between academia and industry. Doing a PhD is about learning and showing you can do academic research, which may or may not include lots of the fun stuff you are looking forward to. Some guys in game companies may do 'research' but it might not be the same kind an academic would do.

 

Doing a phd in 'computer graphics' sounds a bit vague to me. What does your supervisor say? Wasn't there a subject you were meant to be researching when you and your supervisor arranged to start this? :unsure:

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Doing a phd in 'computer graphics' sounds a bit vague to me. What does your supervisor say? Wasn't there a subject you were meant to be researching when you and your supervisor arranged to start this? :unsure:

 

For my supervisor everything in the domain of CG is actually ok as well as my trajectory as long as you got journal papers. For funding, everything in the domain of CG is CG. Ray tracing is CG, fluid simulations is CG, etc. Again they only want some papers somewhere along the line. Of course, you need to scope some topic but this is not "fixed". So it started out as increasing the convergence speed of physically-based rendering algorithms in computer graphics with adaptive sampling/filtering techniques and currently shifted to the acceleration of ray tracing queries (which I am finishing). We typically work from paper to paper; you build upon your previous work or start researching something else (which is loosely related to the previous). CG has an interesting history and evolution, but it is difficult to find topics nowadays (with a high chance of eventual acceptance). It is surprising how much stuff is actually already been done before. Furthermore, in our group we mainly work alone without any collaborations (as opposed to papers with multiple lines of authors) not because we persue the life of a hermit, it is just the situation. So this kind of explains the system.

Edited by matt77hias

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I wonder whether this is because game companies are not academic institutions... 

 

True point, but in case your interests are animation movies, companies like Pixar and Disney despite being industrial companies have huge similarities with academic institutions. Fortunately game companies are evolving in this direction as well. They are of course present at their GDC conferences, but also found their way more frequently to SIGGRAPH/EG/HPG stuff.

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Ah that does sound a lot more flexible, than the approach I had to follow, but I can see that by the nature of the CG field the nature of study may need to be different. In the classical sciences afaik the idea is usually to form a thesis, and perform several studies to help support / test the central thesis. So there was a lot more emphasis on everything working together to further the thesis, and you wouldn't jump from one study to something outside the topic area. Mind you, it may be that the further you get along, the further you get steered towards topics bringing your work together by your supervisor / external examiner. :)

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Well that is not true :)

 

 

Of course, you have AAA companies such as Larian Studios (Divinity Original Sin) in Belgium and Guerrilla Games (Killzone) in the Netherlands.

And even some cool indie companies like Crazy Monkey Studios (Guns, Gore & Cannoli). I am aware of these companies, but one of the reasons I didn't consider them in my search so far, is that I have not played any games of them. I always write a motivational letter to the companies I contact in which I dedicate a small and honest part to the games they produced. Furthermore, if some of them finally wants to sit down and discuss this further (which has not yet happened) I am fair and not going to pretend I played or liked games I have never played. And admitting this in a sollicitation to a game company, feels disrespectful towards the people putting so much efforts in their passion and games which is the reason for not contacting all the companies I might have heard about. Of course, other persons will have a different opinion about this matter and I totally respect that, I just state my own. And of course as a side effect, I am seriously limiting my possibilities.

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In the classical sciences afaik the idea is usually to form a thesis, and perform several studies to help support / test the central thesis.

 

Initially, I also assumed such a situation. Once you start, however, it is all about publications. It is of course possible to work 4 years or more on one specific topic, but it is a high risk putting lots of pressure on the person since you will only get one (or two) shots for submitting a publication that needs to be accepted.


http://careers.ea.com/software-engineering-games

https://www.activision.com/careers/students

http://www.nvidia.com/object/universityrecruiting-internships.html

https://careers.unity.com/position?id=274040

https://careers.microsoft.com/students/internships

 

Some of these companies don't have you apply to be a "graphics programmer intern" but rather enroll you into a general intern program. They'll place you in a team and role as part of the process. I would also expect more internships to be listed early next year for summer.

 

Thank you for all the interesting urls.

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