While Xi Wang is most typically referred to with the titles of animator or digital artist, he’s actually a world builder. He’s contributed his skill to globally recognized names like Warner Bros (It Chapter Two Experience), Intel, and others but his personal film creations expose the massively creative vision of this Chinese born talent who works on a global scale. There’s a through-line with the tone of Xi’s films like Metamorphosis and Butterfly, both in terms of aesthetics and characters. It’s clearly evident that Xi is the sort of artist who immerses himself deeply in the creation of the layered environments displayed in his productions. They communicate more than what is simply displayed on screen to prompt the question of what led to the events featured in them. The complexity of Xi’s films are notable in how shockingly real the animation seems but also extends to the subtext of what led to the events that transpire in them. Every era of art is known for its medium and tools; the films of Xi Wang establish that he is one of the most gifted in the field today. 

Xi Wang
Xi Wang creating Metamorphosis

  It seems serendipitous that Xi’s film Metamorphosis was released in 2020, less than half a year into the global pandemic. Combining advanced Real-Time CG animation and motion captures, Metamorphosis is a tale of rebirth that follows destruction. This sobering notion is presented with such a sublime visual tone that the creator’s dark inference was tempered and attractive, proven by its receptions of such awards as Director’s Choice Award at the 40th Annual Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival and Best Animated Short at the One-Reeler Short Film Competition. An Official Selection of such prestigious events as the Telluride Film Festival, Montreal International Animation Film Festival, and others as well as a nominee at the Encounters Film Festival, Metamorphosis presents a post-apocalyptic and fantasy world which blends elements of surrealism, classical Chinese art, Contemporary art, and other influences. The international connectivity of this warning can be found in characters like the two-headed mutant deer inspired by radiation animals from Chernobyl and sculptures of deer in the Tang Dynasty of China. Though humans are absent in the film, the resurrection of a humanoid main character who is composed of many butterflies hints to a peaceful future. These imaginative concepts by themselves warrant praise but it’s Mr. Wang’s masterful use of his skill as an animator that makes them appear visually based in reality. The end result is the sense that the viewer has been pulled inside a dream. Xi communicates, “It is gratifying to combine various artistic styles and research fields that I am interested in into a unique creation. I am a visual artist. Although I have worked in different fields of art, from traditional oil painting, making toys, digital art, Motion Graphic, VFX, and real-time animation, they seem to be different professional fields with their own techniques but are in fact all about making beautiful images. In my artistic creative life, I have always been interested in learning and exploring new visual art forms. You can see that these areas have a complex impact on the story, the character, the environment, and the music of this film.” Even amidst the technical requirements of manifesting a film which looks so realistic, the personal connection for Xi is evident. 

Xi Wang

One of the most impressive moments of Metamorphosis is the appearance of the humanoid butterfly which is connected to the story “Zhuangzi dreamt of being a butterfly”, a Chinese tragic legend called “Butterfly Lovers”, and the BBC’s “I fixed a Butterfly’s broken wing to remember my mother.” These three different tales of cultures that featured butterflies inspired Mr. Wang to insert his own interpretation as a sign of the change and hope that could accompany tragedy. A similar butterfly character appears in Mr. Wang’s aptly titled motion graphic and animated CG film Butterfly which garnered wins at the New York Animation Film Awards and Los Angeles Animation Festival. This dark fantasy features butterflies gathering to take on the semblance of a human spirit dancing in a mysterious underground garden. Skulls in the foreground hint that a mortal demise may have led to this transformation. 

Xi Wang
From Xi Wang’s film Butterfly

  The industry has taken note of Xi’s talent and abilities. He was recently contacted by (Head of Visualization and Virtual Production at Digital Domains) Scott Meadows (known for his work on the triple Oscar Winning Film Black Panther and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One) to lend his skills to a high profile sequel film for Marvel Studios. Xi has been at work since August of 2020 as a member of the Previsualization team for this yet to be disclosed major film. Marvel has been at the apex of expanding the visuals possible in modern filmmaking; Xi’s inclusion to this prestigious family cements his status as one of the leaders in this highly innovative direction. 

Writer: Arlen Gann