Profile picture of Prof. James O'Brien

Contact Information:

EECS, Computer Science Division
731 Soda Hall, Mail Code 1776
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, California 94720-1776

Office Phone: (510) 642-0865
E-mail: job [at]
Email prefered.

James F. O'Brien, Ph.D.

Professor of Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley

Profile picture of James O'Brien

Dr. James F. O'Brien is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include computer graphics, computer animation, simulations of physical systems, human perception, rendering, image synthesis, machine learning, virtual reality, digital privacy, and the forensic analysis of images and video.

In addition to his research pursuits, Prof. O'Brien has worked with film and game companies on integrating advanced simulation physics into games and special effects. His methods for destruction modeling have been used in over 200 feature films and game titles. Prof. O'Brien was Chief Scientist at Pixelux and Avametric, and is currently a technical advisor to Juice Labs and Chief Scientist/co-founder at Get Klothed. He has also served as an expert witness or consulting expert in multiple patent cases.

In 2015 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his work in destruction modeling with an Academy Award for Technical Achievement. In 2000 he received his doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology where his thesis received the College of Computing's Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. Professor O'Brien is a Sloan Fellow, recipient of the Jim and Donna Gray Endowment Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and FIU College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni. He was selected as one of Technology Review's TR-35, awarded Georgia Tech's 15 Year Impact award, and received research fellowships from the Okawa and Hellman Foundations. From 2010 through 2016 he served as Director at Large for ACM SIGGRAPH. In 2020 he received an award for Technical Achievement from Dreamworks Animation.

A complete list of academic publications, including the full PDFs and supplemental materials, can be found here: Publications


Interests and activities outside the University.

Some of the activities that I enjoy during my personal time away from campus include photography, traveling, scuba, camping, beat saber, woodworking, and glassblowing. I also enjoy science fiction and using it as a context for thinking about life, the universe, and everything.

Are we approaching a technological singularity? Probably, and I think that it might arrive sooner than expected. I also think that it will be very different from the, perhaps naively optimistic, scenarios that many technologists forecast. Occasionally, I write about this topic.

Images from current and past research projects.

Images link to pages with further information.