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The Rapport Report

November 17th, 2021

Veteran Technical Art Director Joins the Team: Welcome Zhi!

by Madeline Ostrander, Content Marketing Manager

In early October we welcomed video game industry veteran, Zhi Chen, to the Rapport team. Zhi has an extensive background working in the industry for the past two decades, including working on the Halo series at 343 Industries/Microsoft. He was first introduced to Rapport during his time at Linden Lab working on their virtual platform (what we'd call the metaverse today) that utilized Rapport’s real-time facial animation technology for avatars.

“At Linden Lab, I had the opportunity to work directly with Michael Berger, Gregor Hofer, and the rest of Rapport’s team. I found them to be extremely intelligent, driven, and passionate about their company’s tech and product.  Many years later when they asked if I would be interested in joining them in the next evolution of Rapport's journey, it was a no-brainer for me,” said Zhi.

Today, he joins our team as the Technical Art Director, leading our Creative Team and helping bring Rapport’s technology to life, enabling our customers’ creations. 

“Whether it’s working directly with external teams on their AAA games or doing research and development on our internal projects, my team is responsible for marrying the tech with the content and to make sure it is represented at the highest graphics fidelity possible,” Zhi said of the Creative Team. “While I can’t go into specifics...I can say that we are involved in many of the biggest upcoming game releases.”

Zhi and the Creative Team took time at the end of October to meet in person to align on team goals. He said it was a valuable opportunity to get to know his teammates on a personal level, and the way they work, so he can create the most effective team possible.

“No amount of fuzzy webcam video and lossy audio is going to replace the experience of seeing the dynamics of my team planning, talking, and laughing together in the same room,” said Zhi. “In a world of remote work, it is easy to forget that a job is more than just tasks, spreadsheets, and emails on a screen. It’s also about the people. And sometimes all it takes is a little in-person face-to-face time to remember that.”

When asked about what excites him most about the world of Artificial Intelligence, Zhi said he always dreamed of the worlds in his favorite science fiction shows, books, and movies becoming reality. “What can be more amazing than reliving the past and interacting with AI like those shown in Star Trek’s holodeck? Or being able to dive into the fun world of Ready Player One?” 

He added that the more practical applications of AI are also just as exciting. “Autonomous vehicles, fully AI assistants, universal translators, and just about anything else that will make our lives easier and give back the one thing that is most precious to us all: time.”

“Zhi’s reputation precedes him,” said Gregor Hofer, CEO. “He is one of the most experienced technical artists in the industry and will help support our clients to achieve the best possible results.”

We are looking forward to the great work Zhi and the Creative Team will be working on together. Welcome to the team, Zhi! 

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