Ardrey Kell seniors Luke Japaridze and David Kubala laughed as they recalled carrying a massive computer monitor from Kubala's room to the garage, dragging cables behind them. The two were just beginning to figure out motion capture — the process of digitally recording a person’s movements, to animate a digital character — and decided they needed a bigger space for filming.
They had plopped the computer down, plugged everything in and begun, when the garage door began to rise. His parents were trying to park — in the newly created video game studio.
“They said, ‘You know, we’ll come back later,’” Kubala said.
Now, as these students head to graduation on Wednesday, they'll enter Bojangles Coliseum as business owners as well: That early studio was just the beginning of the pair's collaboration in a video game company owned by Japaridze, and Kubala opened his own tech company where he produces 3D models.
The two sell their games on Steam, a digital marketplace for video games.
“There will always be a market for video games and anything software-development-related because we’re in the digital age,” Japaridze said. “And to be involved in that field, it just basically guarantees you a solid job, and you have the opportunity to make a difference and maybe create something that will inspire people.”
Japaridze began LucasGame Studios in middle school, after joining a programming club, and Kubala joined the company in junior year of high school . Now, Japaridze handles coding and mechanics, and, as Kubala puts it, implements "my insane ideas." (Kubala also serves as project manager. )
For Kubala's own company — Kubala Virtual Reality Applications — he works with an architect to develop 3D-printed building models and virtual reality tours.
“If I can produce things in a visual medium so people can really fully understand a concept, then it’s a much better way to teach somebody what’s going on,” Kubala said.
Both said they wouldn’t have discovered these passions if it weren’t for their high school courses. They say working together has not only prepared them for college, but given them a head start in computer science.
Both students are driven to succeed, said Jason Sheffield, a career and technical education teacher at Ardrey Kell, and both have the creativity and intelligence needed for success.
Sheffield encouraged them to participate in the Technology Student Association (TSA) competition. Japaridze said this year’s theme was “Inventors Workshop,” and the two chose to build a 3D animation of Isaac Newton in his workshop.
“Dave was so bright and talented when it came to 3D modeling using 3D Studio Max that I would make him teach the class,” Sheffield said. He didn't have Japaridze in class, but said "Luke is also incredibly talented.”
Kubala plans to attend Trinity College in Dublin. Japaridze will head to University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Kubala said working with Japaridze has not only advanced his 3D modeling skills, but has allowed him to "create something that made a difference."
The boys plan to continue working together during college, despite being an ocean apart.
“We’re going to be in different time zones," Japaridze said, "but we’ll figure it out.”
About this series
The Observer asked readers and others for suggestions of standout graduates. Today, we continue a series of stories about students who illustrate a range of accomplishments, including some who overcame significant obstacles.