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An Interview with Chong Liu, CG Designer of NoWhereMan

Hi, Chong, congratulations on  16 Award Nominations last year! Tell us how you felt when you heard the great news? 

I was thrilled when I heard my team was nominated for 16 awards. Especially when I knew we were the winner of Festigious Film Festival‘s Best Animation of The Year and New York Film Awards’ Best Student Film. This was my first time creating a narrative film and winning an award is an extreme encouragement for me and the entire team. 

(NoWhereMan)

Could you please tell us what story NoWhereMan talks about? 

Sure! NoWhereMan is a 5-minute animation utilizing an ironic style to depict a story of a national hero, who goes on the first time travel experiment in public. The short movie chronicles how the hero gets trapped in the repetitive timeline forever after the experiment implements. However, government officials try to hide the ironic truth, announcing the success of the experiment to crowds.

Why did you want to create  NoWhereMan and why it is called this name?

NoWhereMan represents my deep thoughts on the relationship between government and its people. How officials want to depict themselves in front of people and how people distinctively respond to the government? NoWhereMan refers to two meanings in this animation: The hero character has been trapped in the time machine and he has gone forever; like he is being nowhere in reality. And he is the tool for the government to announce the success story and no one knows or cares about his sacrifice and no one asks where he is. 

You mentioned that NoWhereMan is inspired by the painting style of Lucian Freud. How does Lucian Freud affect your work?

When I started to learn painting, I have always been addicted to Lucian Freud’s work. I imitate his painting style and integrate my understanding of art into NoWhereMan. My Team and I developed a new 3D shader for the characters, combining the simplification of lining and exaggeration of expression with the elements of Lucian Freud’s painting into the project. We applied the vivid characterization and expressionist feeling of the characters in this animation. 

(NoWhereMan)

We found that you always talk about topics like religion, nationalism, and science fiction in your projects, such as your previous creation Supernova. Why are you interested in these topics? 

When I was young, I read Star, a novel written by author Charles Clarke. The novel comes up with the story of Jesus’s birth and supernova via an alternative comprehension and that’s how it inspired me to create this work. I feel no matter religion or science fiction, they have invisible connections with each other. I want to use metaphor but artistic creation to represent my thoughts on these topics. 

(NoWhereMan)

Why do you want to become a CG designer? How / Who encouraged you to jump into this industry?

For the past 20 years, I have dedicated myself to art creation. I think CG is an industry that combines aesthetics and technology. It is an interdisciplinary industry and I feel challenged and excited when working in it. I wanted to become a film director before, but I found that CG creation is more focused on aesthetics, and I changed my concentration. 

What do you think is the most important in CG creation? 

Of course, design. It can be simple or complicated, but it should be a solution or criticism of the reality. It should be an integration with drawing technique and the designer’s conscience. 

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