By Liu Hongzuo
Although the traditionally accepted notion is that the pen is mightier than the sword, Ngee Ann Polytechnic final-year Multimedia Animation (MMA) student Cai Weiliang, 24, will tell you that the power of a pixel tops it all.
A pixel alone is nothing more than a miniscule capsule of information. But when it is put together with millions of its kind and programmed to a razor-sharp precision, the little squares transform into an array of visual delight, restrained only by the limits of imagination.
“I can make things beyond the wildest imagination and be part of it,” describes Weiliang, who is currently specialising in Interactive Media.
“My passion is in creating computer games. I would say it’s because I’m given an ability to create things I can’t normally do in real life,” he adds.
They say with great power comes great responsibility. In the case of Weiliang, the onus is on him to master drawing techniques in 2D and 3D, understand complex programming codes that animate the pixels and finally bring their characters to life by imbuing them with a voice and a narrative.
Despite the seemingly rigorous technicalities required, the difference between those who are good at it and those who are great boils down to the amount of fervour for the craft. When hype visited Weiliang at his workspace, the walls were lined with countless sketches of characters, from anime to popular video and computer games that act as wallpaper for him.
But what is success without the gallons of blood and sweat poured into the project? Weiliang recounts, “Once for a 3D modeling and animation assignment, I stayed up for two days to get my character properly animated without errors. To make a character fully animated, there are plenty of details to pay attention to, right down to the joints in their limbs.”
He adds, “For many of the techniques, we need to learn by ourselves. Once I couldn’t get the interactive process to happen in one of my previous games, it took me a day or two to get it right after searching for solutions online.”
Since Weiliang is currently doing his final-year project, a day’s work starts with a meeting, where teammates discuss standing issues and plans for the day. Due to the scale of the project, the team consists of 10 members, ranging from the project manager, sound engineer, programmers, game designer, concept artists and the rigger, who is in charge of creating skeletons for animated characters.
As a student team, they are often required to take up multiple roles. In Weiliang’s case, he is a level designer, and will be designing collaterals such as box art for his team’s action game in the later half of the year.
So what is the dream? The down-to-earth student wants to have his own design studio in Singapore.
“I want to create a game that will rival the big games in the market,” he says enthusiastically. He tells hype that the dream is not too far away.
To a person who wields the power of the pixel, although ridiculously small but potentially limitless, we say dream big. Because if you can imagine it, you can definitely create it.