Growing up in Taipei, Taiwan, Cheng Yi Wu was enthralled with the idea of using images to tell a story. From a young age, she was interested in film, and always wished to one day be a storyteller in her own right, using this medium to impact audiences around the world. She dreamed of one day making movies, but as she grew older, her vision began to expand, and she found a new passion.
“I didn’t want to be an animator when I was growing up. I went to film school to do live-action films. However, my life took me down a different path, and I ended up in animation – a different kind of storytelling, but one that I completely fell in love with,” she said.
As an industry leading Animator in Taiwan for the last thirteen years, Wu has worked on many impactful projects that have been seen by international audiences. Such career highlights include the popular series of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Academy Award winning film Ford v Ferrari, the DC blockbuster film Aquaman, and many more. She is incredibly versatile, working on prominent films and television shows, national commercials, and even theme park rides.
“To become a successful animator, I always tried to be an observer. I still spend a lot of time observing how people interact, how they express themselves and even how they move around, as it is essential in helping me gain a good understanding, not only of motion, but also timing and weight. I can bring a sense of reality and subtlety that will make my characters come to life,” said Wu.
This realistic and captivating style of editing is evident with Wu’s work in the recent Star Trek episode, Star Trek: Ephraim and DOT. The segment of the beloved saga follows Ephraim, a humble tardigrade, who is flying through the mycelial network when an unexpected encounter takes her on a bewildering adventure through space. Always the storyteller, Wu enjoys the underlying messages of the film.
“This is a story of a mother tardigrade who is looking for a safe place in the depths of space to lay her eggs, and Dot protects the ship from the intruder. Both characters have simple motivations and contrast with each other. I love the conflict between them, how they overcome obstacles, and finally see the character growth. Star Trek is one of the most culturally influential media franchises and is often regarded as the most influential science fiction TV series in history for decades. It is an honor of mine to become part of the creators of this series, which culture influences the whole world,” she said.
Wu’s team was responsible for the entire production, from the initial layout to the final animation. As a lead animator, she was responsible for creating all animation elements from scratch, including scene staging, character blocking, camera animation, timing, and the sequence of shots, and then developing the character animation and other visual elements to visualize the final animation. She was fully responsible for 19 scenes—almost all of them extraordinarily complex, and requiring masterful and robust animation skills to visualize.
Wu delivered outstanding animation of the highest quality, both artistically and technically. She also supported the other animators, giving them creative and technical advice that significantly raised the quality of their work, and solving difficult animation issues. This can often be difficult, as many animators have their own style and pacing, but Wu knows how to achieve the best possible results, and showed her team how to do just that, saving everyone time and making a beautiful film that has resonated with Star Trek fans across the globe.
This animation is a part of Star Trek: Short Treks, an anthology of short films that takes place in the Star Trek universe. Released on CBS All Access 2019, the network’s flagship streaming video platform, fans can watch Star Trek: Short Treks on CBS All Access, which is available on iOS devices, Android devices, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, FireTV, PS4, Roku, Xbox, and many more, or they can simply visit CBS.com.
Since its release, the film has garnered much attention from fans and critics, and has been called “an absolute love letter to the original Star Trek series, packed full of iconic moments and callbacks” by fan site TrekCore. Wu is honored to have played such a large role in bringing this beloved film to life, and is happy it has resonated so well with fans.
Watch Wu’s stunning work in Star Trek: Ephraim and Dot here.