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Interview with CG generalist Jingyu Li

Jingyu Li is a skilled CG generalist from China with a master’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. She currently enhances cinematic experiences at Ingenuity Studio, a VFX company specializing in post-effects for films and TV shows. Her role involves a wide array of tasks from modeling and texturing CG assets to lighting. Jingyu thrives on the challenges each new project brings and finds immense satisfaction in seeing her work contribute to captivating cinematic experiences. Her dedication to her craft is evident in every aspect of her work, from meticulous attention to detail to her ability to solve complex visual problems.

Interview with CG generalist Jingyu Li
Jingyu Li

Jingyu, as a CG generalist, you manage a broad range of tasks from modeling to lighting in your projects. Can you describe how you approach balancing these diverse responsibilities and which aspect of your work do you find most challenging and rewarding?

As a CG generalist at Ingenuity, my role encompasses a wide array of tasks, from modeling to lighting, each demanding high expertise. In personal projects, while all these steps are essential, not every phase might demand equal attention. However, in a professional environment like Ingenuity, each project stage requires exceptional quality and proficiency, compelling me to continually enhance my skills across multiple areas. This demand for continuous learning and improvement is both challenging and rewarding.

At work, I am primarily assigned lighting tasks, with occasional responsibilities in modeling and texturing. When handling multiple assignments, I organize my task list by prioritizing based on project deadlines and the team's immediate needs, focusing on the most critical aspects first. For each task, whether it's modeling or lighting, I set clear, achievable goals for the day. This structured approach helps me stay focused and efficient, allowing for a smooth transition between different types of work. I also maintain constant communication with other team members and departments. This collaboration is crucial as it ensures that my work aligns with the overall vision and requirements of the project, and adjustments can be made swiftly if needed.

The most challenging aspect of being a CG generalist is the need to master and balance multiple disciplines simultaneously. Unlike specialists who may focus on one area, CG generalists must be proficient in a broad range of skills. This requires a perpetual commitment to learning and adapting to new tools, techniques, and industry standards.

Balancing these diverse responsibilities can be daunting, as each task requires a different set of skills and a unique approach. Ensuring that every component is executed to a high standard within tight deadlines adds to the complexity. The need to switch between different types of tasks frequently can also be mentally taxing, requiring strong organizational skills and the ability to quickly refocus. Additionally, staying updated with the latest technological advancements and software updates in each area is crucial, demanding a significant investment of time and effort. This constant learning curve can be challenging but is also essential for maintaining a competitive edge in the ever-evolving VFX industry.

Conversely, this challenge also brings the greatest reward. There is a profound sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when I see the final product on screen, knowing that I contributed to its creation. The ability to bring imaginary worlds to life and to contribute to storytelling that captivates audiences is exceptionally gratifying. It reminds me of why I pursued this career path and motivate me to continue refining my skills and contributing creatively to every project I undertake.

Interview with CG generalist Jingyu Li

Having worked on numerous high-profile films and TV shows, could you share a particular project that was especially challenging? What specific contributions did you make, and what did you learn from this experience?

Certainly, each project I've worked on presents unique challenges due to the varying content of each show. This is what makes working in VFX exciting; no matter how many projects you've handled, there's always something new in the next one. A particularly challenging project for me was the Netflix movie "The Curse of Bridge Hollow."

This project was daunting because we needed to complete a large number of shots within a tight deadline. My primary role involved lighting, along with some texturing and modeling. Given the volume of work, efficient management was crucial. I organized the shots into different groups based on similar lighting needs. By creating a main lighting rig for the primary scenes and adapting it for related shots, I significantly improved the workflow efficiency.

From this experience, I learned the importance of managing complex VFX workflows under pressure and developed a more refined approach to problem-solving, especially when it came to integrating CG elements seamlessly with live-action footage. Effective collaboration with other departments enhanced my understanding of how good communication can resolve production bottlenecks.

Interview with CG generalist Jingyu Li

The VFX industry demands both technical skill and creative insight. How do you maintain a balance between these two aspects in your work?

Balancing technical skill and creative insight in the VFX industry is indeed essential, and I approach this challenge by ensuring that each complements the other in my daily work. Technical proficiency allows me to execute complex visual effects accurately and efficiently, while creative insight drives the innovation and uniqueness of each project.

To maintain this balance, I continuously enhance my technical skills through ongoing education and training. This could involve learning new software, experimenting with different techniques, or staying updated with the latest industry advancements. This technical groundwork is crucial as it provides the tools I need to translate creative ideas into visible results effectively.

On the creative side, I actively engage with a variety of art forms and media outside of work, which helps fuel my imagination and broaden my artistic perspectives. This could be anything from attending art exhibitions, watching diverse genres of films, or reading. These activities keep my creative juices flowing and provide fresh ideas that I can potentially incorporate into my VFX work. In my practical work, I strive to ensure that the technical execution serves the artistic vision of the project. This involves closely collaborating with other creatives to understand client’s vision and ensuring that the technical solutions I devise uphold and enhance this vision rather than constrain it. This collaboration often involves a lot of back-and-forth communication and iterative adjustments to fine-tune both the artistic elements and technical details until they seamlessly blend.

Ultimately, the key to maintaining a balance between technical skill and creative insight is viewing them as interdependent rather than separate aspects. By enhancing both and understanding how they interact in the VFX process, I can produce high-quality work that is not only technically proficient but also creatively compelling.

Interview with CG generalist Jingyu Li

Could you elaborate on the specific roles and contributions you make to the creative process within your VFX team? How do you influence the development and execution of projects from conception through completion?

Of course. As a CG generalist within my VFX team at Ingenuity Studio, my role spans various phases of the project lifecycle, each critical for creating the final visual output. This role demands a deep understanding of both the artistic and technical aspects of production.

Throughout the project, I collaborate closely with other departments such as animation, FX, and compositing. My ability to communicate effectively and coordinate with these teams ensures that all visual elements integrate smoothly. For example, I ensure that the models I create are rigged correctly by the animation team and that the textures render well under different lighting conditions, which the lighting team handles.

I also engage in regular review sessions where we evaluate the progress of the visual effects. During these reviews, feedback from directors, supervisors, and other team members is critical. I use this feedback to make iterative improvements to the visual effects, refining them until they perfectly match the project’s creative objectives.

Balancing these responsibilities involves a keen eye for detail, a strong sense of creativity, and robust technical skills to ensure everything works together harmoniously. The most challenging aspect is ensuring that all these elements blend seamlessly to meet the creative vision of the project while also adhering to technical constraints. However, it's also the most rewarding part, as seeing the final composition come together with all elements working in sync is immensely satisfying.

In summary, my influence on the development and execution of projects is comprehensive, involving creative input and proactive collaboration. This holistic involvement ensures that the final visuals not only achieve technical excellence but also enhance the storytelling and artistic impact of the project.

Interview with CG generalist Jingyu Li

Looking ahead, what are your long-term career goals within the VFX industry? Are there specific roles, projects, or types of work you aspire to explore further in the coming years?

Looking ahead, my long-term career goals within the visual effects industry are centered around growth and influence. I aspire to transition into a role where I can share my knowledge and experience more extensively, particularly by teaching and mentoring junior artists. My aim is to become a more influential figure within the industry, guiding the next generation of VFX professionals and helping them hone their skills.

In terms of technical aspirations, I am eager to delve deeper into the technical aspects of visual effects. I believe there is immense potential to explore how advanced VFX techniques can further enhance visual storytelling. My goal is to push the boundaries of what we can achieve with visual effects, exploring new possibilities and innovations that can elevate the narrative impact of films and TV shows.

Overall, my long-term goals are to not only advance my career within the VFX industry but also to contribute to its evolution by embracing new technologies and methodologies, mentoring upcoming talent, and continuously pushing the limits of what can be achieved through visual effects.

Interviewer: Zin

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