Friday, February 10, 2017

As a refugee escaping from Vietnam, Van's childhood dream job was to become a comic book artist because he loves to tell stories.   However, his parents wanted him to pursue a more stable career, so off he went to study psychology and business economics at UCLA. Upon graduating with cum laude honors from UCLA, he went to work for Ernst and Young.   As he was crunching numbers as an accountant, Van yearned to doodle instead.  Fortunately,  a chance screening of the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater changed his life.   After seeing a fantastic short film created by just one individual, Van was inspired and transformed.   That aha moment was transformative as it motivated him to learn this emerging technology to tell his stories.

Upon passing the CPA exam and receiving a full scholarship to attend USC for his first year. Van took the leap and enrolled in USC's cinematic arts program to get his MFA.   While in school, he completed two animated shorts, "Wild Card" and "Values," which went on to screen at over sixty film festivals.   "Wild Card" and "Values"  were screened at the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater and won numerous awards, including two Student Emmys.    "Values" also won Best of Show at SIGGRAPH, qualifying for the Academy Awards in the best animated short division.

Van has worked as a director, animator, previs artist, technical director, and designer for films and games produced by Dreamworks, Sony Imageworks, Paramount, Digital Domain, Activision,  2K, Naughty Dog ILM, EEP, The Mill, Blue Sky Studios.  His credits include working on such franchises as Harry Potter, Shrek, Madagascar, Ice Age, Uncharted, How to Train Your Dragon, Captain America,  NBA2K, Aqua Man, Sonic and Thor.   In addition, he has also worked as a director or animator on award-winning XR projects screened at the Tribeca, Cannes, and Venice Film Festivals.

Van's breadth of experience in XR, emerging technology, pipeline development, real-time game engine, animation films, broadcast, interactive media, academia, and psychology has given him a unique perspective and teaching philosophy. At these intersections, he can be creative and leverage his knowledge to create Aha and WOW moments.  He loves solving problems, pushing the boundaries of new mediums, and solving creative and technical problems.  

In addition to production work, Van enjoys teaching as it allows him to help students achieve their own aha moments.  He also volunteers at various high schools and organizations in the area as he loves to help students create their own "WOW" moments. 

Recently Van has had the opportunity to work on multiple metaverse projects.  These include improving processes and workflows for animation, previz, XR, and virtual concerts. As well as creating content for award-winning VR and learning and testing cutting-edge tools in AI and the metaverse.