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Yuxuan Han

Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology

Position Title
This has been such an eye and mind-opening journey for me. From improving technical skills to forming a solid understanding of an actual production pipeline, and all the way to teamwork. This Co-op opportunity really enhanced my ability from all sides.
Experience Details
Application and Interview Tips
Introduction + Preparation

During my initial Co-op term at IGG Canada, my focus was to utilize Unreal Engine to create user-attraction content. This hands-on experience provided a good understanding of the platform's capabilities and allowed me to contribute creatively in a  professional and commercial environment. It also allowed me to get a basic understanding of how pipeline functions in a video game company.

Previous Experience

Exploration within 3D environments like Maya and Unreal Engine has been a focal point of my studies. Specifically, I've been focused on interactive arts, including various aspects of media arts, game design and cinematography.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

For this role, knowledge of Cinematics and skills in using 3D software such as Maya and Real-time Game Engines like Unreal Engine is essential. Applicants are expected to present a portfolio that exemplifies their expertise, featuring a diverse array of digital renders, animations, and other 3D and Cinematic Projects. Prior exposure to a commercial environment is a significant advantage for this position. Applicants with previous work experience will find that to be a huge help in securing a position like this.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

The orientation surpassed my expectations in every aspect. EA went above and beyond by organizing a comprehensive one-week orientation during the summer, flying all Canada interns to Vancouver where the home of EA Canada headquarters is. The week kicked off with an impressive opening ceremony dinner, followed by engaging social events like group activities one-on-one coffee walks and an insightful studio tour.

There are also forums arranged for us, where we had the opportunity to engage in discussions with industry veterans, student leaders, high-ranking executives, and even the CEO himself. Everyone was very open to this discussion and it all felt natural and casual. This unique interaction provided invaluable insights into the industry's inner workings and offered a glimpse into the minds shaping its future.

The week concluded with a wrapping-up party and a treasure hunt across the expansive campus, designed to familiarize us with the studio’s layout and facilities.

Transitioning into the first actual work week, the focus was more on settling in rather than going straight into intensive tasks. It involved a few small assignments, getting to know and work with different team members, and learning the workflow, pipeline, atmosphere, paces and processes of the team. It was an excellent opportunity to get into the working mindset.

Day to Day

This role offers a hybrid schedule from 9 AM to 5 PM, with the flexibility of working three days from home and spending two days on-site. This schedule provides an excellent balance between remote work and in-person collaboration.

My responsibilities in this position included utilizing Maya and the Frostbite Engine. I've had the chance to engage with various aspects of our pipeline, gaining exposure to a wide array of tasks and skills. The team has allowed me to explore and participate in diverse aspects of assignments like facilitating animations, creating captivating shots and cameras, set dressing and environment design, previz design and assets cataloging, it was really a wide range of different roles I've explored during this coop term.

Our workweek typically involved meetings on three of the five days, to allow us to sync up with team members.

Learning and Adaptation

Being part of this team marked my first real-world experience in a comprehensive cinematic production pipeline at this level. The work of cinematography within video game engines and assets created a uniquely working pipeline and goals. Our team is composed of all kinds of different disciplines. Each member brings a distinct skill set to the team, and there is a lot to learn from each one of them.

Adaptability and the ability to change and flow between different tasks is a key skill to have on this team. The experience of navigating these varied roles within such a collaborative team was a great opportunity to improve my adaption skills and explore all possible career directions.

Accomplishments and Challenges

During my Co-op Terms, my team and I accomplished a significant milestone by delivering the EA Sports FC24 Gameplay Trailer.

Currently, we're deeply engaged in the development of an upcoming RPG title, in which I was participating in Priviz design, set dressing, shot creation and technical tasks within our pipelines.

Working within a real-time game engine, especially a proprietary one, naturally presented its technical challenges, yet the team has always been there to support and answer whenever questions or issues arise for me. This collaborative environment has been valuable for my growth within the team, allowing me to explore and learn across various disciplines within the production pipeline. Each challenge further enhanced my understanding of how to apply technical skills in a real production environment and pipeline.

The real treat and the moment that I felt my work's impact, such as the FC24 Gameplay Trailer being unveiled and viewed by millions worldwide, is very rewarding. It was proud to see your and your team's work being finally put out and being watched by tens of millions of people around the world.

Despite the challenges, each obstacle has proven to be a stepping stone, offering valuable learning opportunities that continuously improve my 3D-related skill sets.

Reflection & Tips

This has been such an eye and mind-opening journey for me. From improving technical skills to forming a solid understanding of an actual production pipeline, and all the way to teamwork. This Co-op opportunity really enhanced my ability from all sides.

Engaging in creative work that holds significant meaning has provided a sense of being part of something greater in scale and importance, a feeling that's truly remarkable to have for my works.

The team is composed of experts from many disciplines and all are very helpful, heartwarming, and everything I could ask for.

From learning from industry veterans to putting out content in front of the whole worldwide gaming community.

This is an experience that went well beyond a mere and simple work experience or a Co-op term, but a chance to experience, grow and determine what I want to do for my career and how can I further improve my skills to be better at it.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

For a Co-op student, the priority of a Co-op term is gaining a comprehensive understanding of their desired industry after graduation and continuing to improve the associated skill sets in a real-world setting. This experience offers invaluable insights into the workings of the industry while allowing for skill development.

The opportunity to learn and get familiar with a proprietary engine like Frostbite is particularly an advantage. It not only enhances one's technical proficiency with real-time game engines but also facilitates the transfer of existing skill sets from Unreal Engine and can be applied to other game engines as well, which is a key skill to have within the gaming industry.

Ultimately, this Co-op experience offers a wide range of exposure to the industry and pipelines as a whole while letting you actually feel the impact and be proud of your work and milestones.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

Ever since setting my sights on the Video Game Industry as my ultimate career destination, the first reason I choose to have an SIAT Major, the SIAT courses let me touch on many disciplines including media arts, game design, and development, gaining invaluable insights and foundational knowledge that ultimately lead me to this position.

This Co-op opportunity definitely steered me towards the discipline of video game cinematics and storytelling.

Many skills and knowledge from my favourite courses, particularly in animation and cinematography, really paid off during this coop and the interview.

The experience I gained during this co-op term may have determined what I want to aim for for my future career after graduation. I felt motivated, and proud of my and my team's work while gaining and improving knowledge and skills every day.

Because of this position and what I experienced from it, I have made plans on my academic studies to better facilitate this career goal, by focusing more on media arts studies and the plan to do a graduation project. The project will be a cinematic storytelling piece created in Unreal Engine that will really push all that I have learned to the next level in the next few terms.

Advice for Future Students

Future Students who want to pursue a career in Video Game-related Cinematics should definitely look into Unreal Engine, which is not being offered as course content yet at SFU, as this is a very valuable skill to have while looking for opportunities like this and is rapidly being adopted as an industry-wide standard, and the many skill sets developed can be transferred into other engines like Frostbite and Unity ultimately.

While SFU might not currently provide formal courses in Unreal Engine, students can explore online resources, tutorials, and self-study to gain proficiency. Most of my knowledge and skills came from online courses and videos and they helped greatly.

Also focus on software including Maya which is also an industrial standard. Furthermore, studying film, cinematography and multimedia storytelling courses will be a great base knowledge for this position and the gaming industry.

Co-op is really a great way for a student to gain exposure to their desired industry. Think of it as a preview while you are still at school, you can explore, trial and error, and learn to prepare yourself for a real career. This is a valuable opportunity that I recommend all students to participate if they can.