When Yuki Zeng decided to study computer design in college, she never would have thought that it would lead her to a career in visual effects (VFX). Like many of us, VFX and 3D graphics were niche specializations she barely knew anything about back then. It was actually the goal of making a realistic snowing video for a friend’s birthday that introduced her to the world of effects. Creating it motivated her to embark on a lifelong journey of learning and enhancing her skills. We sit down with Yuki to know more about her life as a VFX artist and why Ubisoft Singapore is her choice of place to refine her craft and work on impactful projects.
What is VFX art and what does a VFX artist do?
I get this question often! When my friends ask me what VFX is, I tell them that I create explosion effects, fire and smoke in games or movies. The kind that you see in Transformers or the movie 2012.
But on a serious note, VFX artists in game development use real time particle systems to create visual effects. This involves making textures, fixing technical issues using performance metric tools and constantly upgrading your software skills. We also work a lot with our level designers and team leads to exchange knowledge and build spectacular experiences.
Describe your journey of discovering VFX & choosing it as a career. What inspired you to start?
My major is in computer design and I got into VFX through the personal project of making realistic snow effects for a friend’s birthday. I learnt Photoshop and Flash to do this (which were totally the wrong software in hindsight) but they brought me into contact with graphics for the first time. I was fascinated by the experience and went on to learn 3ds Max by myself, even spending a year picking up film animation after graduation.
The course I took taught me about sketching, modeling, materials, animation, visual effects and composition. Falling in love with realistic movie effects, I decided to study visual effects and composition to work in the movie industry. I did that for about four years before embarking on a new adventure in the video game industry, where I stayed till today.
What are some of your biggest challenges at work?
What challenges and excites me at work is adapting to new hardware and software. I need to keep upgrading my skills and techniques to overcome limitations, push boundaries and stay competitive in the industry. Although bugs and crashes are an inevitable part of daily work, they improve my problem solving skills and deepen my knowledge.
"What challenges and excites me at work is adapting to new hardware and software. I need to keep upgrading my skills and techniques to overcome limitations, push boundaries and stay competitive in the industry."
What are the hard and soft skills needed to get & do well in a VFX job?
For hard skills, you’ll need to have an excellent working knowledge of software like Maya, 3ds Max and Photoshop. A good VFX artist understands the limitations and expectations of next gen hardware and knows how to get the best results. You’ll also need to have experience with engine toolsets like Unreal, Unity and proprietary game engines.
As a general requirement for all artist roles, you should have a good sense of timing, form, colour and composition. A VFX artist is required to skillfully create textures for games and be familiar with 3D modeling and painting.
Soft skills are extremely important to us too. Our ideal candidate is a great team player and effective communicator who is able to work efficiently with both artists and programmers. Having great flexibility, an open mind, time management skills and passion for your craft are all vital characteristics of an outstanding game developer.
"Having great flexibility, an open mind, time management skills and passion for your craft are all vital characteristics of an outstanding game developer."
Why is Ubisoft Singapore a great place to be for a VFX artist? What excites you about coming to work every day?
Ubisoft Singapore is a great place to learn and grow because we work on impactful AAA games with incredibly talented teams. It’s very satisfying to know that your work will be enjoyed by millions of players all over the world! If you're into VFX, you'll really benefit from exchanging your knowledge with all the artists from Ubisoft's large global network of studios.
We’ve also got a lot of nationalities here! This company truly embraces and celebrates diversity because diverse teams make more creative and robust games.
"If you're into VFX, you'll really benefit from exchanging your knowledge with all the artists from Ubisoft's large global network of studios."
Any final words of advice for people hoping to join a VFX role in Ubisoft Singapore?
I’d encourage everyone to always be curious and never stop learning. Invest time in both mastering the basics and building new skills in VFX. Actively learn from those around you to know what good looks like and keep working towards that goal.
Does this sound like your dream job? Want to make your mark in the AAA video game industry in the leading AAA studio in Southeast Asia? Check out our latest opportunities here!