Above is a profile of Ray Lei, a Beijing-based graduate of Tsinghua University, Academy of Arts & Design. I was first introduced to his work when I was on the jury in Ottawa last year and saw three of his student films. As I recall, all of us on the jury had a similar (and curious) reaction in that we admired his work and thought it was creative, but didn’t particularly like the films. Nevertheless, Lei has plenty of ideas and creativity and I’m looking forward to following his professional career.
In the video interview, Lei says something that I hear often about animation schools in Asia, India and other developing animation regions of the world: that the schools treat animation too much as a trade and overemphasize technical skills at the expense of individual expression and thinking. That will be a big hurdle for those regions to overcome if they want to compete creatively with Western animation. Lei puts it best in the interview:
“It seems to me that too many people are too focused on the technical side of their work. Because I know After Effects, or Maya, I’m an animator. But that’s only one component in this big production. The technical skill that you’re proud of now will eventually become outdated and useless.”
More of Ray Lei’s illustration work can be seen on The Creators Project. Here’s a new eye candy-filled short by Lei:
And here’s a video of him rapping in Chinese accompanied by Simpsons director David Silverman on the tuba: