|When Star Wars was first released in Japan in 1978, Masa Narita was already
a big fan of Japanese monster movies and TV shows like Godzilla and Ultraman,
both of which featured early examples of miniature models and special effects.
When the teenage Narita saw Star Wars, however, it sparked a life-long
obsession with special effects that would ultimately lead him to the United
States and to Industrial Light & Magic.
According to Narita, pursuing a special effects career in Japan during the ‘70s and ‘80s was considered impractical by most, so he instead embarked on a career in finance, landing a job at a prominent Japanese securities firm. It wasn’t until 1993 that a company transfer to a U.S. office offered Narita an opportunity to explore a potential career in special effects. He purchased some 3D software and devoted hours to practicing after work and on weekends for three years. He also made time to build realistic scale models, winning a U.S. national scale modeling contest in 2004.
When his finance company downsized their U.S. presence in 2008 and asked Narita to return to Japan, he made the fateful decision to quit his decades-long career in securities and try his hand in the CG effects industry. He enrolled in a visual effects school and got a job as a modeler a year later on an automobile commercial. His big break came the following year when he landed the role of lead modeler of Freddy Krueger on 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The success of his work on Nightmare led to more jobs as a modeler on commercials and features, building a portfolio of ads for Nike and Verizon Arena as Modeling Supervisor and on movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Modeler), Captain America (Modeler), Wrath of Titans (Modeling Supervisor), and The Master (Modeling Supervisor), among others.
In 2012, Narita landed the role of Lead Modeler on Iron Man 3, which required 13 CG Iron Man suits to be built by him and his team from 2D concept art. The detailed mechanics inside the suits had to be built from scratch, giving Narita his most challenging work to date. That is, until Star Wars Episode VII.
Currently working at Industrial Light & Magic as one of four CG modelers on Episode VII, Narita is thrilled to finally be working on the film series that so impacted his youth and influenced his career in special effects.
(written by Lucasfilm PR in 2014)
another article (QOLA magazine 2014/12 English)
another article (Mainichi Weekly 2012/5 English)
another article (Asahi newspaper 2010/9 Japanese/English)