Behance Creative Q&A: Yongsub Song

Yongsub Song is a motion graphic artist from Los Angeles by way of South Korea who focuses mostly on animation and compositing. You’ve seen his work for major TV shows American Gods, WestWorld, and Luke Cage as well as films Prometheus, Iron Man III, and Oblivion.

When did you first find the creative spark? When you were young? Maybe later?

When I was young I was very into computer games; I knew I always wanted to make one eventually. Then as an adult, I went back to college after discharging from the military (in Korea, it’s mandatory for men to go to military service after high school), I had no idea what I needed/wanted to learn. One day, a friend told me ‘You can make everything with After Effects’ So I started learning and working with AE. Then eventually, I realized that I also needed to learn 3d tools.

Who or what nurtured that initial spark? Did you have any early mentors?

After I had decided to study motion-graphics, I started watching Quicktime files… as many as I can. Back then (10–15years ago), most studios uploaded their work on their websites as Quicktime format, not Vimeo or Youtube. So I downloaded them and saved them on my hard drive. The folder where I saved all those Quicktime files was my first personal collection and eventually became my source of inspiration. Then I came upon a DVD called ‘Directors Label,’ which included Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, and Michel Gondry’s works. That was another moment of impact.

As you’ve developed your style over the years, who are some of your influences?

Of course, Danny Yount. I watched his reel (It was also another Quicktime file at the time), and I got another big impact. Fast forward, I started working at Prologue Films. The first day I started working there we had a short meeting with Danny for a project in his room, and I just said that I am a big fan of him. He just laughed.

When you start a new project, what’s your process? How do you gather your ideas, how do you execute them, etc?

Almost all of the work on my portfolio are team collaborations. There is a process, but my role is animation. As an animator, I try my best to understand the concept, design boards, and reference images. Then I start to build a story in my head reminiscent of a film (or animation, game) I watched with its original soundtrack playing in my head. Ultimately, I try to embody and interpret the design using the feelings I felt when viewing a scene from a film.

What is your normal workspace like? Do you have any favorite places to go to do certain types of work?

Well, I know this is a stupid answer: I sit and work where the producers put me.

What have you been working on recently?

My daughter, Joie, was born in April. That is the latest and best of the best project I’ve worked on — still working on. Before that, I finished the main title for American Gods with the best director Patrick Clair with the design dream team Paul Kim, Jeff Han, Felix Šoletić as well as the best of the best motion graphic artist/animator, Raoul Marks, in March.

What’s something the art/design world is too focused on or What is the art/design world not focused enough on?

That is a complicated question. Things have been changing so fast and efficiently. This world focuses on efficiency; using faster CPU&GPU, quicker and easier tools, more powerful search engines, more presets and more designers who can use multiple software programs. But I feel like artificial intelligence will end up replacing us. So we need to focus on studying AI software, haha.

What’s a skill you used to use all the time but don’t use anymore? Or, conversely, what’s a skill you never thought you’d need to use but can’t work without?

Renderer. This market is changing so fast. I often think that an international standard renderer will help. Then I don’t need to re-learn a renderer after a renderer. But it’s ok; AI will eventually take over.

Where does Behance fit in your creative life? Has anything noteworthy come from you being a member?

I chose Behance in the beginning because I can make my portfolio website with it. But now I enjoy it more to see other artist’s great works. I found this platform very useful because of its multi-functionality — I can update my website quickly and share my work with worldwide designers/artists too.