David Luong is a Senior Cinematic Artist II at Blizzard Entertainment. He works for many well known studios as Luma Pictures, Rhythm & Hues and Disney. He has also been Matte painting judge for CG Tantra and Matte painting Instructor on CGSociety. David has been involved in Video games cinematics projects as World of Warcraft: Mists of Panderia, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty making Lightning, Renderings, Matte Paintings and Compositing and also as a Compositor/Roto Artist for movies such as Superman Returns, Night at the Museum and Silent Hill.
It’s Art : How did you get at Blizzard Entertainment ?
David Luong : Well after I graduated at Academy Art University in 2005, I applied all over the place I got a short freelance job at Disney Toon Studios to do background painting for the Tinkerbell movie then after that, I went to work in LA at Luma Pictures, working as a rotoscoper/digital paint artist on Underworld Evolution. In January 2006, I left Luma, and went to work at Rhythm & Hues where I did compositing for Garfield 2, Superman Returns, and Night at the Museum I met some other great artists there, and after 10 months of working at Rhythm & Hues, I applied to Blizzard as a matte painting artist. I got hired there to do lighting/compositing as well as some matte painting ever since, starting as an Associate Cinematic Artist, then got promoted to Cinematic Artist in 2007, then Senior Cinematic Artist in 2008, and then most recently Senior Cinematic Artist Level 2 in 2012.
It’s Art : How did you discovered you were made for working on that industry ?
David Luong : I loved playing video games and watching movies. Great movies that have inspired me to work in this industry was The Neverending Story as a child, and then later Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Lord of the Rings, and The Matrix as time went on. Those were all ground breaking movies. Then when I studied 3D Animation/VFX/Matte painting at Academy of Art university, I knew right away I wanted to work on films/cinematics. After getting hired by Blizzard Entertainment, I got an interview in November 2006, and I was super excited, because it was my dream job to work there ever since I played their games growing up…Warcraft 3, Starcraft, Diablo, World of Warcraft, their games are so amazing, as well as the top notch quality cinematics.
David Luong’s Lighting/Compositing/Rotoscoping/Digital Paint Reel 2012 featuring works on Diablo 3 World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Night at the Museum, Superman Returns, Garfield 2, Underworld Evolution
It’s Art : Does having huge skills helps you to get a job ? When you left Disney, do you asked yourself “Am I taking the right decision” ?
David Luong : I had some skills, but there were so much more talent at Disney it was amazing. My contract was only for a month, and so I wish I could stay more but I couldn’t, and so I went to work in LA at Luma Pictures instead where they fortunately hired me for some of my painting/roto skills. It was early enough in my career where I thought I could go many places, and so it was fine for me to try other studios after Disney.
It’s Art : You worked on so many projects. Which was your favorite one ?
David Luong : It’s World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King back in 2008. It was my favorite because he’s one of my favorite characters, classic good turned evil, similar to Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars. It’s such a tragic hero character. What also made it an amazing project is that I got to do so much in it, and worked on it from the beginning with the director and my lead, to the very end. I helped define the look of Arthas, and the environment. My lead and I did many iterations of lighting environments, look and color of the characters, and I got to do some concept paintings, and matte paintings for look development, as well as do sequence lighting for the show to pass out to other people so they can help finish in the end. The overall mood of the project was very cold but it had a great palette, with amazing composed music by Neal Acree, and an awesome director, Jeff Chamberlain. My lead was Sheng Jin for lighting/compositing.
It’s Art : How do you face deadlines in Blizzard Entertainment ?
David Luong : We are at a unique place in Blizzard, where schedule is longer than usual (especially vs film) and we are our own client. So we take the most time to get something to look right, as quality matters most, it takes time. We usually work on projects for 2-3 years before it’s done, and we usually go with the game’s schedule but we’re changing that now, we’re trying to produce even more cinematics for more and more games so we are going faster each project from now on. Sometimes our deadline keeps moving because the game team changed to a new target date and so we have to refine our art work to match that deadline.
David Luong’s Digital Matte Painting Reel 2012 featuring works on Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
It’s Art : What are your advices for people willing to get hired in leading studios ?
David Luong : I’d recommend first to figure out what you want to do, by trying out many things or if you know already, refine your skills until you get really good at it. But also to have a great online presence through your website, or social networking or websites like itsartmag.com or similar and start posting your work to get feedback from other people to improve your skills. I usually like to observe the world a alot and reality, to see how light shines and looks onto objects outside, and indoors, as well as take lots of photos to study them and later be able to use them as reference for your work too. Some people want to go straight into the 3D or computer graphics part of animation right away. But be sure to not skip some basics such as drawing foundation, perspective, color theory, and other fine arts. You can really apply that knowledge to your CG skills later on. And of course, never give up while having the passion and motivation to follow your dream.
Interview : Sébastien Tafani