About ten years ago, Wang Wei said in an interview that when he visited Pixar, he felt that there was a huge gap in technology between Chinese animation and American animation. There is only a lack of software but no lack of hardware. This is a “taken for granted” that will appear in various fields after my country has experienced rapid economic development and rapid technological progress two decades later.
At that time, Wang Wei had just left Tudou, and decided to set up an animation company with the acquisition money from Youku. This news was disclosed by him in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Later, when the domestic media reprinted it, I don’t know if it was because it was quoted from the American media, and they all added a sentence: Wang Wei wants to be “China’s Pixar.” This appellation with expectation and praise has been widely used up to now and is deeply loved by investors. In recent years, Chasing Light has corrected this title several times. They said that they never said they want to become an American company in China. They just want to be China’s Chasing Light and tell Chinese stories.
Frankly speaking, running an animation company with Pixar is a good thing. Pixar is the first company in the world to make a full-length CG animated feature film, which combines the beauty of technology and art. They have created many original movie characters, and the stories are full of rich and meaningful emotions, and the audience spans children and adults. In 2006, Pixar was acquired by Disney, which failed to transform into 3D. Ten years later, Disney came out with Zootopia, an animation that showed that Disney’s technology was not only world-leading, but also knocked off No. 2 (whoever that No. 2 was) by at least a decade. There are 64 different species in “Zootopia”, including rabbits and foxes with 2.5 million hairs, and giraffes with 9 million hairs. Hair is the most test of CG technology and the most time-consuming, so Warner dressed all the animals in “Kung Fu Panda”. Disney, on the other hand, developed new software for hair rendering to achieve the desired thickness and different lighting effects. Another example is that in order to realize the difference between shallow water and deep water ripples in “Moana”, Disney specially upgraded the fluid engine Splash. In order to become top animation producers, Disney and Pixar have also become top animation industry software developers, and they have multiple self-developed patented software.
At about the same time as “Zootopia”, the first feature film “Little Door God” of Chasing Light Animation was released. Although the CG technology of chasing light has made considerable achievements, the gap with Disney is still very obvious. A specific comparison is that in the disco scene that “Little Door God” is most proud of, it took a lot of effort to change the lights of the ballroom. A similar concert scene appeared in “Zootopia”, and Disney only It is placed at the end of the film as a sideshow, and the complexity of the scenes, characters, and lighting changes is far superior to “Little Door God”, and there is a multiple-level gap between the two.
What is little known is that the technology of CG animation must be accumulated one by one, and upgraded and iterated through time and money. There may be geniuses in artistic creativity, but it is difficult for technology to overtake in a corner. Disney has a huge material library, including models and renderings of rain, ice and snow, ocean forests, urban deserts, animals and humans, etc. Chasing light also needs to build its own material library and iterate its own technology. Therefore, although the first three animations of chasing light were all at a loss, they have gained a lot in technology: they developed a rendering system that can make the round characters on hard surfaces stretch naturally when doing movements, and master the animation of animals. Hair production technology – can make a cat’s hair 6 million.
“New God List: Yang Jian”
From a technical point of view, the future of top-notch animated features does not belong to beginners, but rather to a growing stable of production teams with a strong tradition. This can be seen from many animation companies in Japan and the United States. The popularity of CG technology seems to give everyone the opportunity to make animation, but once everyone can participate in this industry, it means that the threshold of competition will continue to be raised.
Today, thanks to Wang Wei’s emphasis on technology, Chasing Light is recognized as the company with the best CG technology and industrial standards in China, and Caitiaowu is the same as two Chinese head animation companies. Unlike Color Bar House, the biggest difficulty in chasing light lies in creative ability. Except for “White Snake: Origin”, which was delegated to professional screenwriters, the stories of the rest of the works are full of flaws, and they are jokingly called “animating with your heart and writing the script with your feet”. The most obvious problem is that, except for “White Snake: Origin”, the screenwriters of the other works of Chasing Light are Wang Wei. He lacks the ability to write animation stories, but he is strong and stubborn. Although “White Snake: Origin” received good reviews, the professional screenwriting team at that time also left Chasing Light before the film was completed because of disagreements with Wang Wei. In this regard, Caijing magazine made a detailed report in 2019, and the introduction said that Wang Wei has a huge and stubborn ego.
In a sense, how far chasing light can go depends on how much power Wang Wei can delegate.
In my recent interview, there are two details that are quite intriguing. One is that the interview with the director and producer of “Yang Jian” was canceled before the interview on the grounds that they cannot speak on behalf of Chasing Light; the other is Yes, when I asked how Chasing Light can tell a good story, the co-founder made it clear that he didn’t think Chasing Light had any problems in story creation, and the reason why stories were repeatedly criticized was because everyone can tell a story, so everyone can tell a story. If you can evaluate a story, you don’t have to care about criticism.
Not being able to tell a good story is the biggest weakness of commercial films, or industrial films. In my opinion, any aesthetic has a basic score, above which there will be aesthetic differences, and below this basic score, it is indeed recognized as bad. Just like in the first class of “History of Foreign Literature” in college, the professor told us after finishing the book list, don’t keep thinking that there are some leftover pearls waiting for you to discover because of different aesthetics, scholars, critics and readers of all ages The level of the book is about the same, and the classics have been found out for you, so you can read it quickly.