Read the 'Short On Time' version:
I'm currently a Senior Cinematic Artist II at Blizzard Entertainment, I've been working in the visual effects industry professionally since 2005. I do lighting, compositing, and digital matte painting for Blizzard's cinematics on games such as Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch. I've previously worked on films such as Night at the Museum, Superman Returns, and Underworld Evolution at Rhythm & Hues, Luma Pictures, and Disney Toon Studios.
In 2013, I've published a book on matte painting as a co-author called d'Artiste: Matte Painting 3 through Ballistic Media Publishing and have been featured in 3D World and Advanced Photoshop magazines. In August 2014, my husband Steve and I opened up our own art gallery in downtown Santa Ana called Photonic Playground where we feature some of the best digital artists around. It's open monthly on the first Saturday of every month, visit http://photonicplayground.com for more info.
I'm also a teacher for CGSociety.org's online Photo-Real Matte Painting workshop, where I have taught students around the world since 2008. Thanks for reading!
You can see my contact info below.
Or, read the 'I'm a Geek' version (for fun!):
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 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.
While I was in school studying, and ongoing through out my expeditions working from one studio to the next, 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 also so happy that The Hobbit has made it to the big screen in 2012!
Both would be a dream to work for, but I got into Blizzard Entertainment first, and so I've been there ever since. I remember 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 6 years, 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: Starcraft, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and many more to come.
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.
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, 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 so far having our own gallery, and spreading the awesome work of nearby talents to the DTSA residents and online. For more info, please visit: http://photonicplayground.com
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! You can see my contact info below.
P.S.: "Never give up, never surrender!" -Commander Taggart of Galaxy Quest
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