Interview with Ke Jyun Wu
GH: We're so curious to find out: who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
Ke: Hi, I'm Ke Jyun Wu, a generative artist based in Taiwan.
I worked as a technical artist in Ultra Combos, a digital interactive design company. Since I have the capabilities of programming and visual creation, I can produce generative visual design and multimedia installations. I'm also a bridge between the programming department and the visual department, helping them understand each other's working methods and communicate well. That's most of my job. However, I worked as a freelance generative artist in my off-hours. I engaged in generative visual design and cross-field creation from the main force. I am focusing more on visuals when I do my personal side project.
"I really understood that what I wanted to pursue was not a particular style or technique, but anything that can break the barrier between virtual and reality"
GH: What is the underlying philosophy behind your work?
Ke: There's a slogan on my website's landing page, "Redefine the boundary between reality and virtuality." This is also the core value of my creative work. About 7 years ago, I had been asking myself "What am I looking for while creating?", and "what is the thing that I really love?" You can see the style and concept of my works are changing during that period. it wasn’t until I watched the movie "Ready Player One" that I really understood what I wanted to pursue was not a particular style or technique, but anything that can break the barrier between virtual and reality. I began to pay more attention to anything that can enhance the immersion of the work, whatever it is the quality of rendering, the smoothness of interaction, the choice of music, and so on.
GH: Can you pick an artwork and describe your workflow?
Ke: At the beginning of 2021, I activated a new series project called DigiScape. The purpose of this series is to take the digital landscape with high rendering quality as the main axis and match various types of interactive techniques. While constantly challenging the boundary between reality and virtuality, I expect to build my own interactive encyclopedia with the themes of the digital landscape that go with different interactive intermediums, letting anyone with similar taste get some insight or reference from my projects. Now, I'm going to introduce my latest work from the series—Forest (I completed three for now, others are Lava and Seabed)
I used the forest as the theme because I accidentally saw the work of LGU+ BloomingRoom on Vimeo a while ago. I was deeply moved by the meticulous transitions and the changes of day and night, so I decided to make an interactive work that was full of flowers. After several technical tests, I found that the massive amount of flowers was too difficult for model making or subsequent technical processing in real-time, so I temporarily decided to change the theme to the forest. Looking back, that was really casual. 😆
Forest is a typical scene that is usually used in game engine demonstrations, which makes the corresponding resources very abundant. This time, most of the vegetation in this work uses free resources from Quixel Megascans, and the trees are made by myself with Speed Tree 8 for Unity. The swing effect of vegetation in Unity is controlled by The Vegetation Engine, a popular plugin in Unity. The particle effects in the second half of Forest are made with Unity’s Visual Effect Graph while some calculations were processed by an additional Compute Shader I wrote. Compared with the GPU Particle System developed by pure coding in the past, the Visual Effect Graph with node based as the core is more flexible, I highly recommend it.
When making this project, I spend the most time managing reasonable visuals and innovative ideas for the picture instead of researching the technical issues. I wanted to take care of every detail such as the atmosphere, the dynamics of vegetation, the gradual change of sun, shadow and the transition out and back into the forest. It cost me almost half a month on lighting, color adjustment and composition. In addition, I took music seriously in this project. I worked with a composer and made countless adjustments and discussions on music and VFX sound. We are very satisfied with the results!
GH: Tell us about your setup. Where do you create? What tools do you use?
Ke: I have a lot of enthusiasm for buying computers equipment. I will update my computer to the latest specifications every one to two years. I really don’t like sacrificing any visual details in my creation due to hardware limitations. This habit also made my insufficiency in optimizing performance. My colleagues always make fun of me that I'm the destroyer of computer performance.
Most of the time, Unity3D is the main tool of my creation and I use HDRP as the render pipeline.
In my past experience, the most difficult part of creation is not how to build the environment or operate the software but to ideate the innovative concept. Owing to technological advances, the technical threshold will become lower and lower. We should focus more on the ideation of concepts. It doesn't matter how those massive videos or articles suggest the best tool, the most important is simply to choose the one that you like most. There's no need to be too swayed.
GH: What are you working on next? Ke: I am used to taking a short break after I complete a project. During this period, I usually watch other creator's work frantically and try to find out what I like and record it. This is a very crucial period for me. Most of my inspiration is accumulated in this way. By the beginning of 2022, I will reorganise my website and make the 2022 showreel( the video below is my 2019 showreel ), maybe spend some time on NFT, and learn new software, such as Unreal or Houdini. No matter what, I will continue to explore any new possibilities with the attitude of Redefine the boundary between reality and virtuality in the future. I should challenge AR on my next project. Stay tuned!
– KeJyinWu, Taiwan
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