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Lee Zhen Yang

Lee Zhen Yang

Junior Rigging Technical Director, Lucasfilm Singapore, 2009
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Creative Multimedia

People say that university is the place where you learn to be independent, take care of yourself, and stand on your own feet. I learned to do all that while at Limkokwing University.

08 February 2009

Animating Dreams

Written by Catalina Rembuyan

Limkokwing University alumnus Lee Zhen Yang is living the dream of science fiction and fantasy fans everywhere: he works as a rigger at Lucasfilm Singapore, behind the scenes of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animation series. Catalina Rembuyan tells the story of how he got there.

When asked about what he considers his greatest success to date, 24-year old Limkokwing University of Creative Technology alumnus, Lee Zhen Yang, asks this in reply: “Does getting a job at Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore count?”

Like many people beginning their career and studies in animation, Zhen Yang, who is inspired by the works of critically acclaimed Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli, has been dreaming of working for a big name international animation studios like Pixar, Dreamworks or Disney since he first decided that animation was his path.

Zhen Yang has one thing that differentiates him from others pursuing the dream: he has actually succeeded. As one of the people working behind the scenes of the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, Zhen Yang is doing what many in the world would die for: he gets to work behind some of the most beloved entertainment franchises in the world, in one of the most beloved entertainment companies in the world.

It is not easy to acquire such a deeply coveted job. Although Zhen Yang only holds the position of Junior Rigging Technical Director at Lucasfilm Singapore, he already has an incredible amount of experience working with different kinds of animation styles, and a slew of awards for his creative work to boot.

As a student of Limkokwing University’s Advanced Diploma of Multimedia programme, Zhen Yang succeeded in achieving the Member’s Choice Award for Designers Depot’s Award for Excellence for Outstanding Graphic Design during the first year of his studies and the Erti Merdeka Award the following year, which was a national-level web designing competition organized by Telekom Malaysia in conjunction with Malaysia’s 46th Independence Day.

success is found when you do what you enjoy doing in an environment that motivates you to do better, and failure is whenever he fails to do his best

Immediately after graduating, Zhen Yang received an Industry Award for Excellence for best 3D visualization and was informed that his final year project was selected for screening at the International Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan. He then went on to further his studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where he did his Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia.

“People say that university is the place where you learn to be independent, take care of yourself, and stand on your own feet. I learned to do all that while at Limkokwing University,” he said, adding that it was also the time when he met some of his best friends, all of whom are still very close to him today.

Crediting Limkokwing University for preparing him for the industry by training him how to communicate his ideas through words and explain his thoughts, Zhen Yang said that after he finished his secondary school years, he went around ‘shopping’ for design schools and finally settled with Limkokwing University.

“When people think of design, they think of Limkokwing University,” Zhen Yang said, explaining the reason for choosing Limkokwing University out of the many in Malaysia.

Zhen Yang did not get into Lucasfilms Animation immediately when he stepped into work. His first job was that of a rigger at Omens Studios, a boutique animation studio with headquarters in Los Angeles and Singapore.

There he worked on television commercials, series, and game cinematics for a year. Some of his projects where he was involved in included commercials for shoe brand Skechers, a trailer for Aegis Faction, and animation for a National Geographic documentary called Pirates.

“At Omens Studios, I was given the opportunity to handle a lot of responsibilities that taught me many things about animation. On top the character rigging I was involved in, I did cloth setup and simulation, pipeline setup, and tools development.”

Zhen Yang believes that the animation industry can only get better. “There is not a single Hollywood movie now that does not incorporate a little bit of CG element or go through some kind of CG treatment,” he said, adding that the growing number of animated films in the market is also a good sign.

Nonetheless, he warns that the industry will also become more challenging as technology grows. “Every time you watch a new movie and see animation or effects that have never been done before – like digital characters behaving more believably or environments that look more realistic – you know you’ve got to compete even harder to rival competing animation studios.”

Describing himself as curious and playful, Zhen Yang believes that success is found when you do what you enjoy doing in an environment that motivates you to do better, and failure is whenever he fails to do his best. The eldest sibling in a family of five enjoys reading, sketching, watching movies and traveling, and he confesses that he enjoys getting into his car and driving aimlessly simply for the pleasure of it.

“I hope to work up to a senior position in the short-term future,” Zhen Yang said. As for his long term goals, Zhen Yang hopes that he would continue to keep himself inspired and have the opportunity to do what he enjoys.

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