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Academy Graduate David Luong Makes a Career Out of Playing Video Games

David Luong has never regretted the amount of time he spent watching movies and playing video games growing up.  While some see these activities as a waste of time, the Academy of Art University graduate has turned his interests into an exciting career with Blizzard, one of the biggest video game companies in the world.

David knew Academy of Art University was the ideal school for him. The impressive career preparation, the proximity to video game and movie studios and the faculty of working professionals drew him to the Academy’s Visual Effects program within the School of Animation. David concentrated in compositing and matte painting.

“I had a great time there, from dorm life, to the smaller intensive classes for art foundation, to the progression of computer classes that used software the professional industry was using,” he said.

"Temple of Knowledge"  - Winner of Best Matte Painting, AAU Spring Show 2005

His instructors from Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), a division of Lucasfilm, were particularly influential. These professionals offered valuable insight into the inner workings of the visual effects (VFX) industry. Much of the advice and tools they gave him still apply to his work today.

“Come to think of it, all of my major influences were employees at ILM, and I hope they continue to teach other students their great knowledge,” David said.

After graduating from the Academy in 2005, David did some background painting work for Disney Toon Studios and then went on to work as a junior compositor at Luma Pictures. He then landed a job at Rhythm & Hues where worked on films such as Garfield 2, Superman Returns, and Night at the Museum.

He snagged his current job with the help of a former coworker who was working at Blizzard. He brought David’s demo reel to the attention of the company and next thing he knew, he was working for a studio he had always admired.

"Neverending Story Renewal" - Finalist  Visual Effects category

David has gotten to work on a number of exciting projects with Blizzard, but the Starcraft 2 teaser has been his favorite. The teaser is a fully CG three and a half minute long reintroduction to Starcraft, which was originally released in 1997.  They released it in Korea first and David got to attend this enthralling event.

“It was an unbelievable experience being at the event when they first premiered it in front of thousands of fans in Seoul,” he recalled. “There were about 35 shots in the trailer and it took us about six months to model, animate, light and finish.”

A still from "Starcraft 2"

Presently, David is working on Blizzard’s upcoming World of Warcraft: Wrath of Lich King cinematics, which will be released soon. 

“Playing too many video games isn’t always as bad as some may say, especially when it helps you land a job working in a world class studio such as Blizzard!” he said. “Love what you do, and be good at doing it.  You just might get paid for having fun.”


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