Ready to feel like a Jedi? Technical Animator Qiao Wang says now’s the time with new ‘Star Wars’ game

If you’re among the many millions that have seen movie blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Ralph Breaks the Internet, then you’ve seen Qiao Wang’s work. As a renowned technical animator, Wang helps bring those beloved or terrifying characters, like Rocket the Racoon and Godzilla, to life on the big screen. His resume is decorated with many highlights, including Justin Timberlake’s “Filthy” music video and Camila Cabello’s “Consequences” but it is his most recent project, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, that Wang credits as the highlight of his esteemed career.

On top of being an avid Star Wars fan and video game fan in general, Wang has tremendous responsibility for the upcoming ‘real-time’ game. Set shortly after Revenge of the Sith, the player takes on the role of a Jedi padawan being hunted by the Empire after Order 66. Wang is responsible for character technologies for the lead character named Cal Kestis, (players – Cal, Young Cal, Inquisitor Cal). This includes rigging, skinning, dynamics, cloth simulation, armor and costume setup, etc. in both gameplay and cinematics. 

“‘Real-time’ is the future technology for the CG industry, so I wanted to contribute to the field.

I was offered the opportunity to put together character animation technologies for the main character,” said Wang. “On top of this, the project has a great Star Wars story with great concept design. The Star Wars team at Electronic Arts Respawn Entertainment has the most talented team members in the industry.”

Real-time computer graphics or real-time rendering is the sub-field of computer graphics focused on producing and analyzing images in real time. This means that in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the game rapidly renders changing 3D environments to produce an illusion of motion.

“Everything in the video game is ‘real-time’ based, such as real-time physically based simulation for cloth and hair, and real-time rendering and animation blend because you never know what the player is going to do next. Unlike films, directors decide what the audiences are looking at, what happens next, and what the camera angles are, etc. The real-time requirements make my work more fun, interesting, challenging, and there is a lot of room for growth and improvement,” said Wang.

Besides working on the hero characters, Wang created biped, quadruped, and winged characters, vehicles, and environment rigging, as well as character FX and dynamics such as muscle, cloth, and hair simulation in Maya and Unreal Engine. He is also responsible for designing, developing and maintaining TechAnim/animation pipelines, tools, and modules. On top of this, he provides quality control, notes, feedback, and final approval for outsourcing assets creations. Animators and designers will pick up his work and do more content creations to the game. They will also come back and fix animation or character interaction bugs in the game engine or in cinematics. Ultimately, Wang’s work has helped shape the entire game.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the most talented, experienced and hardworking crews, collaborating and learning from them. They inspire me to create better quality work. 

It has been the opportunity of a lifetime to work with Lucasfilm to create a Star Wars project from scratch. All the effort I put into the title characters impacts the whole game, and it’s pretty amazing,” said Wang.

The first trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order received a lot of buzz after its premiere at the iconic gaming expo E3 back in June, and fans are eagerly awaiting the game’s November 15th release date. Wang assures it’s worth the wait, and will be an epic game for any Star Wars fan.

“It’s a great Star Wars story, with awesome combat design and level design. I spent lots of time working on the title character, and I really love how it’s come together,” he concluded. “When you play it, you feel like a Jedi.”

Get your lightsabers (well, controllers) ready for November 15th, 2019.

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