Weilun Feng has had a career many can only dream of. This Taiwanese native is a distinguished cinematographer, and audiences around the world may have seen his work on many of his successful projects, from PSAs like Antidepressant and Never Leave Children Unattended in the Car to films such as Love You Can Buy and The Power of Talk Show. He has taken home awards from prestigious film festivals and worked with seasoned filmmakers in the industry. However, when asked what the highlight of his esteemed career might be, he has one answer: working with the Chengdu Hunters esports team.
The Chengdu Hunters is a Chinese professional Overwatch esports team based in Chengdu, China. The Hunters compete in the Overwatch League (OWL) as a member of the league’s Pacific West Division. Overwatch is one of the most successful video games in the world, and a massive franchise for Blizzard Entertainment. The OWL has a similar model to other traditional North American professional sporting leagues by using a set of permanent, city-based teams backed by separate ownership groups. It is the largest esports league in the world.
“I loved this game when it first came out, so as a player, I was very interested in helping a professional team shoot their videos. At the same time, I think I am qualified for this job, because I know OWL very well,” said Feng.
The Hunters came to the U.S. in February of 2019 to attend the competition of the 2019 Overwatch League season. The team hired Feng as a Cinematographer. During the whole season, he shot one commercial as well as a series of documentaries for the team.
“It’s not difficult to make a documentary when you’re an accomplished cinematographer, but to make a documentary letting people know about a team they may have never heard of, getting to know them and letting their fans love them more, it’s hard. The director had the idea to focus on each player independently in their own documentary, so each of them got an equal opportunity to present themselves in front of audiences, and I could showcase one player each time to make a more in-depth piece. The vlog style of the documentary that the director created allowed these players to get closer to audiences, instead of being seen as untouchable celebrities, so I had a lot of fixable space to shoot these players,” Feng described.
In the commercial for Chengdu Hunters, Feng used a lot of steadicam shots to
achieve more dynamic pictures. He also worked with the production designer and gaffer to design a boxing ring with a science-fiction style of lighting design. The end result is a unique style of commercial that the team had never done before, and they were very happy with it. Feng and his team managed to make these ‘nerd’ e-sport players with no acting experience or martial arts background, look like some real KungFu masters in the movies.
“Weilun is an excellent DP in my professional opinion. He has more than enough knowledge of cinematography to help me achieve the look I want, and his background in directing makes it very easy to communicate with him. His amazing sense of shots composition and camera movement really helps to tell the story, and he has a lot of experience working as a documentary and commercial cinematographer. His cinematic style of documentaries and commercials are always loved by fans and audiences. Since we were shooting this documentary series every week, it was very important for the cinematographer to work efficiently, and Weilun always had the work done on time and at top quality,” said Han Zeng, Director of the Chengdu Hunters’ documentary series.
The documentary series Feng and the team made had over 1 million views on Weibo (one of the
biggest social media networks in China) with very successful videos. The commercial for Chengdu Hunters has over 160 thousand views on Weibo alone, and other videos have had similar success, like the “Documentary of Chengdu Hunters Team Day” with over 100 thousand views, “Documentary of Player Ameng” with over 170 thousand views and “Documentary of Player KYO” with over 100 thousand views, to name a few. The documentary series has also caught the attention of Overwatch developer Blizzard Entertainment.
“This kind of success is amazing, especially because I had spent three months working tirelessly on this project and traveled to many places, just to get it done. This project is my baby,” said Feng.
The 2020 Overwatch League season has just begun, and Feng is already looking forward to working on yet another series of documentaries for Chengdu Hunters.