Blizzard Service Achievements
For every few years of work at Blizzard Entertainment, one can receive an epic piece of equipment in honor of their service. After the first 2 years, you are given a stein to celebrate your victory with. For 5 years, you get a sword to carry into battle. In 10 years, a shield with the Lordaeron crest is given to protect you from harm. At 15 years, you obtain a special class ring. In 20 years, you receive a helmet inspired by the essence of each franchise. For your 25 years of working at Blizzard, you get to equip one of the most epic hammer with a crystal inside of it. The helms and hammers are created by Weta Workshop from Lord of the Rings fame. This is what they look like. Here’s where I stand in each of those achievements so far at Blizzard…to battle!
Oh? You’re still here? Well, you’ve made it this far (achievement acquired!), so might as well take a look at my…
Welcome Exalted Internet Traveler!
I’m David Luong, and I’ve worked in the visual effects industry professionally since 2005. While growing up, I played numerous games (like The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest) and watched countless movies (like The Neverending Story, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings). All of which have eventually cultivated me as an artist, and inspired me to do what I do. I also geeked out with Photoshop in high school working for my journalism class, for which I did graphic headers and was the online editor for The North Star newspaper. There were no Photoshop classes back then, so I was all self taught. I wanted more and more of this, this…”computers plus art” combination that fueled my existence, so off to art school I went up in the Bay Area.
After studying color theory, drawing and toiling away endlessly at the computer lab to finish my projects for school, I graduated from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco with a bachelors of fine art degree emphasizing in 3D Animation and Visual Effects in 2005. There, I learned what Particle FX, Lighting, Compositing, and Matte Painting was, and was astounded. This segued into a journey of working with many great studios, and getting to know wondrous people of the VFX industry. It allowed me to gain precious knowledge about the magic of creating and integrating 3D computer graphics with live action film.
“I remembered the director of the WoW: Burning Crusade cinematic, Jeff Chamberlain, telling me in my interview in the fall of 2006: “We’re only hiring for long term people, not short term, just to let you know.” I had to reiterate that it was one of my dream jobs here, and I’m kinda a huge fan. So naturally, it is a long term deal for me. ”
“R&H had a myriad of genius and veteran VFX artists and technicians who moved oceans in Superman Returns, resurrected a T-Rex in Night at the Museum, and created a few kitties named Aslan and Richard Parker for Chronicles of Narnia and Life of Pi, respectively.”
I worked at Disney Toon Studios after graduating that summer for a short bit, then jumped to Luma Pictures where most of my humble beginnings started. The memories there will never be forgotten, having worked on the 3rd St. Promenade office above the Hooters and Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica. It was my first true in house contract job. The people in the small room I was working out of, along with the modeling/texture team across the hall were my new families. Together, we have gained numerous levels in “XP” regarding working in a film environment on a cult movie called Underworld Evolution. There, I was dubbed “DLo” and my seeds of the Ack Doh vocabulary slowly spread through out the industry.
Next up, I moved on to Rhythm & Hues, a legendary studio of Oscar fame. It was my first big studio! I was super excited. R&H had a myriad of genius and veteran VFX artists and technicians who moved oceans in Superman Returns, resurrected a T-Rex in Night at the Museum, and created a few kitties named Aslan and Richard Parker for Chronicles of Narnia and Life of Pi, respectively. I have such high respect for R&H, and the people there further gave me the skills and knowledge as a visual effects artist. I am forever grateful to have worked there.
But unfortunately, the projects ran dry there after November of 2006. And so my search began on where to go next and that got me thinking back to while I was in school studying, I had two dream companies I promised myself I would get into some day. Both have inspired me endlessly; one was a video game studio that’s captivated my adolescent years with engaging stories and cinematics, as well as awesome fun games.
That place, was Blizzard Entertainment. I have played Warcraft 2, Warcraft 3 and Starcraft for too many moons to calculate, back when we didn’t have broadband internet, but 28.8 baud rate modems (and of course at LAN parties).
And then watching the gorgeous cinematics before, during, and after the game plays. I wanted to be a part of that…to create something that would stir the hearts and minds like myself.
The second studio, is Weta Digital. I’m a huge fan of Xena: The Warrior Princess (I even named my puppy after the show). Weta Digital made some of their early VFX for that show. After having watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy while in school, it inspired me tremendously, and gave me a ravenous appetite for anything New Zealand or Lord of the Rings. Frodo, Gollum, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Sarumon…all seared onto my eyes forever! And yes I have also read the Hobbit and the LOTR books before film’s release. Having read the books, and then seeing the movie realized amplified my love for Middle-Earth and visual effects. I’m was so happy that The Hobbit made it to the big screen in 2012! However the execution by Peter Jackson this round didn’t inspire me as much as it did with the LOTR Trilogy, yet I still had a great deal of fun and nostalgia with The Hobbit trilogy.
Anyway, both would have been a dream to work for, but I was accepted into Blizzard Entertainment first, and so I’ve been there ever since. I remembered the director of the WoW: Burning Crusade cinematic, Jeff Chamberlain, telling me in my interview in the fall of 2006: “We’re only hiring for long term people, not short term, just to let you know.” I had to reiterate that it was one of my dream jobs here, and I’m kinda a huge fan. So naturally, it is a long term deal for me. I’m happy to be working with such talented people at Blizzard. As a fan, and as a cinematic artist, I have remained here for more than a decade, loving all of the stories and visuals I got to contribute my artistic eyes to alongside this award winning team. I’m so happy to have been able to work on every single game franchise for the company.
“After having watched the Lord of the Rings Trilogy while in school, it inspired me tremendously, and gave me a ravenous appetite for anything New Zealand or Lord of the Rings. Frodo, Gollum, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Sarumon…all seared onto my eyes forever!”
At Blizzard with the title, Senior Cinematic Artist II, my works range from rendering, lighting, compositing, matte painting for our pre-rendered cinematics, to lighting/comping for our in game cinematics team on Starcraft 2. I also create some high resolution posters for marketing and print, which is always a blast to work on.
I am also currently a teacher for CGSociety.org’s online Photo Real Matte Painting class where I create videos and support students from all around the world. Since 2008, I have seen and taught hundred’s of students about digital matte painting through the medium known as the Internet, a wonderful piece of technology we have this day in age. It’s a great feeling to be giving back to the community as well as see other aspiring artists grow to become great artists of their own through out the years.
During the 2013 year, I’ve had the immense honor and fortune to be have published a book on matte painting as a co-author called d’Artiste: Matte Painting 3 through Ballistic Media Publishing along side other world class matte painters Damien Mace and Milan Schere. It contains an interview with legendary glass matte painter, Michael Pangrazio, as well as exclusive tutorials from the co-authors as well as commentary on other great artists around the world included in the book. The digital matte painting works I created in the book such as “Monolith City”, “Skyward Life”, and “Ivory Tower” have also been featured in 3D World and Advanced Photoshop magazines in the December 2013 issues.
“The WoW team also added my husband Steve, our pups Xena Kyubi, and myself into the world’s biggest MMORPG game as NPC’s in the starting zone of Tirisfal Glades in the town of Brill.”
In April of 2014, I bought a live/work artist loft with my husband, Steve, in the heart of downtown Santa Ana’s historic art district. So many amazingggggg restaurants, bars, and culture around here that we would never find in the deeper south Orange County cities such as Irvine/Foothill Ranch. Here, we can live young freely as just the two of us while we can before or if we ever settle down somewhere else. A part of buying an artist loft, is to actually doing something artsy with it! So in August of 2014, and wanting to build digital art awareness in my local community, my husband Steve and I opened up our own art gallery on August 2014 in downtown Santa Ana called Photonic Playground where we featured some of the best digital artists around. It’s was open monthly on the first Saturday of every month for three and a half years until we sold the gallery loft in November 2017. The giclee art printing business from the gallery still remains available for any artist around the world who would like to print their own digital art work. , we opened up our first art gallery show that coincided with the downtown’s monthly 1st Saturday of the month art walk with my own art work, and then we’ll follow it with new local digital artists nearby every month or two. It has been quite an amazing experience having our own gallery, and spreading the awesome work of nearby talents to the DTSA residents and online.
But after 3 and a half years of living and owning an artist loft, it was time for us to move on. We sold and moved in November 2017 to the magical serene neighborhood of Park Santiago in northern Santa Ana, but hope to revive the art gallery in a new location some day…and this day came in February of 2018!
David was asked by his coworker and head of production at Blizzard Animation, Phillip Hillenbrand, to curate the future gallery shows for The LGBT Center OC on 4th street. Phillip was also one of the board members of The Center OC, and really wanted to revive the gallery space for big art events, which hasn’t really been happening lately. And so Photonic Playground lives on after almost a year hiatus, to be opened at it’s new location once again in Downtown Santa Ana, but right on 4th street, above Wursthaus adjacent to Native Son’s Alehouse inside The LGBT Center OC on 4th. The grand opening reception exhibition debut was “Women of Art” featuring 27 amazing artists in the film, video games, and education field on May 5th, 2018 with great fanfare. Thanks to those who supported us in the past shows, and at our newest location for more shows to come!
It also lives on forever digitally online due to the great efforts of our World of Warcraft team friends who turned the old Threads of Fate shop into the Photonic Playground Art Gallery for WoW’s Legion expansion in new Dalaran (pictured below). The WoW team also added my husband Steve, our pups Xena Kyubi, and myself into the world’s biggest MMORPG game as NPC’s in the starting zone of Trisfall Glades in the town of Brill. Come visit us if you play!
Throughout my career, I’ve also had the pleasure of being invited to conferences and holding talks about the history of matte painting and how it has progressed through the ages in countries such as Croatia, Sweden, Mexico, Vienna, and Spain. It’s always humbling to be invited to these events and experience such wonderful people and their culture from countries across globe.
“The WoW team also added my husband Steve, our pups Xena Kyubi, and myself into the world’s biggest MMORPG game as NPC’s in the starting zone of Trisfall Glades in the town of Brill.”
I will always remember how I got here, and everything that has led me to this point, along with the people who have contributed to my successes as a person and as an artist through out the years. It’s an amazing journey so far, and I can’t wait for what’s next for me.
To the visual effects industry, storytellers, and to the artists and technicians who make it all possible, thanks for inspiring me to get to where I am today. And to anyone who believes in their imagination through movies, television, comics, books, games…follow your dreams! They do come true ^_^
Thanks for reading this pretty long bio, and don’t forget to connect with me or contact me!