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VFX Artist Jie Meng talks “Avengers: Infinity War” and combining computer science with art

Growing up in China, Jie Meng was crazy about the visual arts. He easily found his way to graphic design, as he thought his talents could effortlessly spread the emotions and feelings from one individual to another. He began showing a great interest in using mathematics patterns as the graphic elements and use them to design visual art pieces. However, the more he worked in graphic design, the more he felt something lacking. Movies had always been a passion of his, and he realized that lending his talents to filmmaking would lead to a fulfilling career where millions around the world could appreciate his work. Almost instinctively, he began working as a visual effects artist, and he has never looked back.

“Moving pictures can tell stories more directly and can easily share the worldview and introspection of the current social status to others,” he said.

Throughout his career, Meng has proven time and time again why he is considered one of the best Chinese FX artists right now. His resume features countless acclaimed projects, from video games like Call of Duty: Black Ops III to blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Earlier this year, Meng’s most successful project to date was released, the iconic Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel’s star-studded flick built up from the 18 previous Marvel films. The many Avengers come together to fight the supervillain Thanos, who aims to eliminate half of the population not just of the world, but of the entire universe.

“Marvel has successfully built the image of the supervillain Thanos, he is the best-shaped character in this film in my opinion. He is not like other supervillains, who basically just want to rule the world or the universe. Thanos aims to seek peace, but his idea on how to do so is twisted. I think Thanos is a supervillain who will be understood and sympathized by the audience,” said Meng. “I like movies that will bring up a topic and allow me to think about it. Avengers: Infinity War is one of those movies. It shows the power of the Avengers when every superhero stands together, also the sickened mind of Thanos and his pure desire of peace deep inside of his heart.”

Avengers: Infinity War was monumental. Not only was it the first film of its kind, with so many characters from so many films coming together for one story, but it also broke all sorts of box-office records. It raked in over $2 billion at the box office alone, and despite only coming out in May, it has already seen awards recognition.

Meng contributed over 100 shots in this hero-packed feature film project. He designed and finished over 80 shots that contain blue particles effects element in less than 60 days. Also, for the hero shot when Groot chops off his arm and allows Thor to use it as Stormbreaker’s handle, he designed and finished the shot, finally putting it into the film to complete the whole movie with this epic moment. To do so, he first searched a lot of reference of the wood splinters, pre-shattered Groot’s arm and did a rigid body dynamic simulation when the arm breaks and detaches. He worked closely with the animation department in adjusting the falling speed of the axe to finish the wood breaking simulation. After the simulation, he passed the simulated geometries to the lighting and compositing team for the test. He solved all technical problems such as the interior geometry export, interior shading, UV mapping, and customized AOV transferring etc. On top of this, he also designed some complicated effects elements when Thor “surfs” on the Nidavellir surface.

“My VFX works have created a huge visual impact for this film and completed it as a sci-fi fantasy masterpiece. The hero shots showed the courage of Groot and contributed the emotions to the story as the Avengers will hold tight together,” he described.

Meng’s largest task involved working on a sequence that contributed a solid 22 minutes of CG content. He began working on this film project from the early trailer to the delivery, spending months on small details that bettered the film. For the trailer, he designed and finished the meteor field effects outside of the Guardians’ ship in the Thor/Guardians crew sequence.

“When I worked on this film project, every day was an exciting day for me because I was working for this epic movie with all of Marvel’s superheroes in it. It was such a huge honor to work on this film with all other awesome VFX crew members. Besides that, the works I did for this film project were very exciting too, there were lots of cool effects elements that I needed to design and finish. And I really love that hero moment when Groot chops off his arm, it was such an epic scene to work on,” said Meng.

It is without a doubt that Meng has risen to the top of his industry, but for him, he simply loves what he does. He is currently working on one of Marvel’s latest films, The New Mutants, as well as the highly anticipated Godzilla: King of Monsters. For those looking to follow in his footsteps, he offers some heartfelt advice.

“Here is what I think, the VFX artist is a very unique type of artist, it does not only require the artistic eyes and aesthetic judgment but also some technical knowledge and a problem-solving mind, especially for FX artists, CFX artists, look dev artists etc. What I would say is one needs to train on both sides of the brain, combine the artistic and technical together to become a VFX artist. I know that it could be hard or someone will even feel it is impossible to become a person both artistic and at the same time technical. But hey, my background was art, I taught myself computer graphics, linear algebra, and programming. So if you have 100% passion
to learn and are willing to try to become what you want to be, just go for it and you will be successful,” he said.
VFX Artist Jie Meng talks “Avengers: Infinity War” and combining computer science with art Reviewed by JaamZIN on 6:44:00 AM Rating: 5
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