We have the awesome opportunity to interview Senior Cinematic Artist David Luong from Blizzard Entertainment. I’m not sure about any of you but I am super excited to be part of this interview and yes, I screamed like a fangirl when he agreed to be interviewed.
Here is a little look at the work done by David in his latest showreel:
Please tell us a bit about yourself – where do you come from and what are you doing currently?
I was born in Southern California to an immigrant family from Vietnam. We grew up with not much, but through persistence and a great vision, my parents built a great nest in America for me and my siblings. They’ve worked hard for me to be able to get where I am today, allowing me to progress in the arts when I could.
I was always interested in video games, computers and the arts and luckily, got to attend Academy of Art University up in San Francisco for 4 years. I want to thank my relatives especially my sister, Kelly for and brother Anthony for letting me set up camp at their house for the last few years at AAU.
I majored in Visual Effects, taking a broad range of classes pertaining to the industry. Compositing and digital matte painting really caught my eye, and that was what I wanted to do when I graduated. I first worked at Luma Pictures as a roto/paint artist, and then went on to become a compositor at Rhythm & Hues Studios in LA before landing my dream job at Blizzard Entertainment in 2006 as a cinematic artist. I’m currently there still, working as a lighter, compositor and digital matte painter for Blizzard Animation’s cinematics.
What is your ambition as a professional artist in the gaming industry?
I’d like to become an art director someday, or even lead my own studio creatively. I’m in a place now that I feel I could be doing something bigger in an overall type of role and hope to fulfil that when I can in the near future. However, being a cinematic artist is still so amazing and I’m grateful to be doing that for over 9 years now.
How did you get to start working at Blizzard Entertainment? We are dying to know!
After working at Luma Pictures and R&H, I had a few friends that I knew in the industry. They knew my art style, and my love for video games, especially one called World of Warcraft. After Rhythm & Hues had put me on project hiatus, I searched for new opportunities.
One of my old coworkers, Jason Hill, had went on to work at Blizzard a few months prior and I sent him my reel/resume to put in a good word for me at the cinematics team. I also knew someone there who knew one of my coworkers, Jungmi, at R&H, named Sheng Jin. Together, they were able to land me an interview at Blizzard about a month before R&H had the layoffs after finishing Night at the Museum in the Fall of 2006.
I interviewed for 3 hours at the old Blizzard building near University of California Irvine, where I toured the office a little bit, giddy and excited as ever getting to meet such a talented team. A week after, I was offered to work on the cinematics team on November, 2006!
What is your all-time favourite game? (We are gamers ourselves and we love hearing what other gamers are playing)
I loved playing Zelda (1st and 2nd) as well as Castlevania, Metroid, Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter as a kid during the NES/SNES days. On the PC gaming side, I indulged in Ultimate 7, StarCraft, WarCraft 2 and EverQuest as my main games in the 1990’s. Coming into the 2000’s, I really stayed with WarCraft 3 and World of Warcraft as my favorites.
Recently we saw a video on Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void
Please tell us about your role on the Starcraft projects and the work you did.
I actually only got to work on the promotional pieces, doing high res stills for the marketing team. I didn’t get to work on the cinematic directly on the shots. But I did work on the in game cinematics where I did many digital matte paintings for the story mode of the campaign. It was quite fun to work with the game story mode as well!
What is your favourite food dish? (We love Pizza!)
I love Pho, it’s a Vietnamese noodle dish, as well as ramen, Korean BBQ, Brazilian BBQ Churrascarria and seafood dishes!
Would you rather be an in-game character for World of Warcraft or Starcraft?
I’m actually a World of Warcraft NPC already, thanks to the WoW team! I would rather by a WoW character because that was my primary love and game from the Blizzard universe. So now I stand as an undead NPC alongside my husband, Steven Dowling Jr, and my dog, Xena Kyubi, in the village of Brill.
(This image is from David’s Facebook cover photos, we just had to include it here. Congrats from all of us here at Pixelsmithstudios!)
What inspires you to get up every morning and go do the awesome work that you do?
Just knowing that my work will get to (hopefully) inspire other artists to do the line of work I am doing today, and because it can be fun creating my own art spin on the established worlds, evolving with my own stories and ideas for the future games.
We see that you have a Digital Matte Painting workshop coming up soon, in February.
Please tell us more about the workshop and is it already fully booked?
I usually only teach once a year due to being pretty busy in my schedule. This time, the CGWorkshop is coming back February 1st 2015, and I’ve taught students all over the world through an online forum based workshop at CGSociety.org. It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and I’ve been teaching there since 2008. It’s an 8 week intensive course where I give the basics of starting a digital matte painting, to executing it fully through the end as a still matte painting. Students will learn how to create quick thumbnails to get their ideas down, and then attach a story to that so that it can better support their visual imagery, and justify certain decisions in the image. It usually sells out, but as of this writing, there’s still some spots left!
More info about the CGWorkshop: http://davidluong.net/cgworkshop
What made you decide to do this as a career?
When I was growing up, I had a great love for the electronic things that give great entertainment such as the computer and the console games. I also love art and creating that reality within a computer as it can be achieved and imagined in my mind. Combining those two loves was a natural course for me to get into the film/cinematic industry where you combine the real with the hyper-real to get something that is fresh and new visually and hopefully storywise.
Where can we see more of your work and the awesome art that you make?
Please visit my website at http://davidluong.net for more art from myself and more info.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with upcoming artists that want to make it in the game and film industry?
Keep practicing and trying to do what you love, not what others love. Sometimes the pleasing of others comes naturally through your own style and work. Don’t be afraid to be different!
Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?
(We are all gamers, animators, artists, illustrators, vfx artists – a collective of crazy creatives)
Never let anyone tell you that playing games is bad, because playing games is what got me into Blizzard Entertainment today. Like anything though, moderation is key!