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Xieboli's Attack on Titan Fan Art Film: CG Generalist Masterpiece

INTERVIEW
June 24, 2024
Interviewed by:
Mearg Taddese

Xieboli's Attack on Titan Fan Art Film: CG Generalist Masterpiece

Discover the story behind Xieboli's viral Attack on Titan fan art short film that got over 3million views on YouTube!

Thank you Xie, Can you briefly introduce yourself? Share your name, your profession, the studio you're currently working at, and if there's a special name the internet knows you by.

Hello everyone, my name is Xieboli. I am an illustrator and modeler, and I currently work at 3QSTUDIO.

Can you tell us about your childhood? What inspired you growing up, and how did those early experiences lead you to your current career?

I have loved animation since I was a child. I started drawing around the age of 8 or 9, hoping to create animation someday. In middle school, I tried drawing manga. During those early stages, everyone told me I was too naive and couldn't achieve my dreams, but I firmly believed I could. I was very confident early on, but as I started working, I gradually realized I didn't have the talent, and my confidence began to collapse. Eventually, I gave up drawing, which was the biggest challenge I've faced.

Moving into your creative mind, Where do you find the most inspiration when you're into a project?

After giving up drawing, I transitioned to becoming a 3D modeler. However, unlike before, I tried to avoid overexposure to work, not wanting my passion to fade. So I started by working on things I liked, such as Marvel. I spent about 3 to 4 years creating Marvel fan models.

Starting from October 2022, I decided to pursue my dream of making an animation. I chose "Attack on Titan" because I know it well and love it. I believe that only with passion and a deep understanding of the subject can there be a spark, unlike working just to showcase technical skills.

What's the most challenging or unexpected task you've encountered, and how did you navigate through it?

The biggest challenge throughout the project was integrating a series of skills into a single workflow and ensuring each skill was at the same level, without too many weaknesses.

During the release of the short film, some people often said that achieving so little in a year and a half was an exaggeration of the workload. I personally think that each part of the short film, when broken down, is indeed not difficult, but if you want to complete it independently and do it well, the difficulty increases exponentially. Every skill needs to be up to par; if any skill falls behind, it will show. It takes immense determination to finish. Overcoming this was difficult, requiring a lot of time to digest negative emotions. There's no shortcut, just time and effort.

How do you manage your time, especially with Family? How do you handle stress and keep your energy levels up?

I haven't started a family, nor do I work a regular job. I dedicate all my time to this project. Seeing great works fills me with energy, preventing me from feeling depressed. When faced with pressure, I always reassure myself that I can overcome difficulties. Maintaining my love for the project has kept me going.

As you’ve pushed yourself to level up your skillset in every aspect of 3D, what's your secret?  Any tips for those aspiring to grow into creating similar projects solo? Are there any gotchas or obvious statements that you wish you had known earlier?

I am very good at learning and thinking. I habitually analyze each VFX company's breakdowns, summarizing and refining workflows that suit me.

If you want to go further:

Maintaining a strong desire to create is important; it affects your career. If one day your creative desire disappears, it might be time to consider changing jobs.Step out of your comfort zone. Many in the industry prioritize efficiency, but I believe stepping out of your comfort zone and doing things you are not good at inherently lacks efficiency. Continuously doing the same type of work can trap you in a state where you cannot improve.

What are the things you wish you had known or learned earlier that would have made a significant impact on your current situation?

I think I should have reduced the scale of the entire short film. If I hadn't created so many assets, I would have had more time to work on the shots, which is something I regret.

Who in the industry do you look up to as an inspiration or guide?

My ArtStation follows are all artists I admire! I like to find strengths in works, regardless of their overall level compared to mine. I believe my inspiration comes from the various works I enjoy.

Let’s shine a light on your Attack on Titan Fan movie again. Walk us through the creative process How were you able to handle the complexity and scale of each 3D aspect? and How were you able to handle everything all by yourself?

As I mentioned earlier, I am particularly good at learning. So, when I am unsure about a step, I ask friends and then proceed. 3D aspects are indeed complex, but as a modeler, being the foundation of the process, I have an understanding of other workflows. The more I understand, the more flexibly I can adjust the entire workflow. When problems arise, I know which step to modify for the most effective results.

Can you share the inspiration behind your short film? What motivated you to create it?

I have always loved animation since I was a child. I especially love "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Attack on Titan." Creating this short film is simply because I love it, with no particular reason. Compared to "Fullmetal Alchemist," "Attack on Titan" is relatively simpler, so I chose it.

What were the biggest challenges you faced during the production of your short film, and in general when you tried to do Fan Art?

I think the biggest challenge is controlling the overall style, including visual effects exploration, model styles, and atmosphere references. These should be determined early on. In this short film, I didn't think enough in the early stages and was eager to proceed to the next step, leading to some rework. In future short films, I will focus more on early design.

Should we expect a full or extended Attack on Titan fanart movie :)

No, I've given up. Initially, I planned to create more than 40 shots, but I overestimated my speed. The reason I couldn't continue wasn't that I needed more time but that I was constantly improving. The fast pace of improvement led to varying levels of completion in the shots, which was very frustrating. I had to keep redoing completed shots, wasting a lot of time. In the future, I need to determine a short film scale that I can complete.

What's your favorite part of your job? Is there a particular feature or tool that you love and couldn't imagine working without?

I like everything except rigging. Maybe Axiom? I use it so much that I often forget the Pyro workflow in Houdini. I only use Houdini for Pyro when Axiom doesn't meet my requirements.

What Software and render engine do you use? and how was your workflow?

I sculpt in ZBrush, topology, rigging, and animation in Maya, then import into Houdini for groom and VFX, and finally use Nuke for comp, with Arnold as the render.

On the path of personal development, how do you continue to challenge yourself and grow as an artist?

As long as I'm not working, I have 16 hours a day to spend honing my skills.

For artists who want to check out your work and learn more about you, where should they go? Feel free to share your website and social media links.

Artstation xieboli.artstation.com

YouTube www.youtube.com/@xieboli

Instagram instagram.com/xieboli

twitter/X x.com/Xie_BoLi

TikTok tiktok.com/@xieboli

Lastly, what do you have for the community? Whether it's a personal project file, a tool, or a website you find helpful, this is your chance to give back and contribute to the community.

I believe ArtStation is a treasure trove, with all kinds of visual references.

As we wrap up, what final words do you have for your fellow artists?

You must have something you love. Don't work just for the sake of working. Maintain your creative passion.

Are you a studio who is hiring?

Send us your job opening to hello@doublejumpacademy.com and you will be added to the next job openings list.

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