Xiaolin Zeng – “I was influenced by my childhood games”

February, 2017
Reading Time
4.5 mins
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Image © The Interviewee

Digital artist Xiaolin Zeng (aka Zaoeyo) talks motion design

This week Creative Chair is in Beijing, China talking to Xiaolin Zeng about his animated CGI work.

One of Zaoeyo’s recent projects was opening titles for Pause Fest 2017. We caught up with him to find out more about this exceptional project and the ideas behind it.

You can see a lot more work from Xiaolin Zeng on his Behance page.

Firstly, could you tell us a little more about yourself and what you do?

Raised in Xiangtan, China, I studied at an exam-orientated Chinese high school. After finishing, I dropped out from an economics major to become a communications auditor at the University of Chine.

The 55th 366 Award goes to Xiaolin Zeng for his outstanding creative work.


It was at that time that I developed my knowledge of digital art and became interested in disciplines such as 3D visuals and motion/title design. Currently, I primarily use Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D for my creative projects, and I am now immersed in the world of computer-generated images. I am also very interested in motion pictures.

“The games and films from my childhood were very influential and definitely contributed to my visual style”

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What are the inspirations/influences for your visual style?

The games and films from my childhood were very influential and definitely contributed to my visual style. Epic titles such as Blade Runner, Halo, Alien, Mass Effect, Terminator and Ghost in Shell were all strong influences when I was young, and they piqued my interest in dark, glowing moods.

Star Atlas

Another inspiration was my mum. She was a very talented computer programmer. From a young age, I would watch her program on an Appl II. The things that she did really inspired me and led me towards a fandom of computer and digital culture.


Tell us more about the Pause 2017 titles and the idea behind it.

I began with four completely different concepts. Having discussed them with my friends, I chose the ‘City’ theme which, to me, was more executable. There’s an anime about a group of kids and their digital monsters who battle dark forces called ‘Digimon Adventure’, which was the inspiration for the idea.

The opening of the film was inspirational. It used Ravel’s Bolero and shows a different side to a city at night, combined with digital elements. The film is about 20 years old now, and it’s pretty hard to find, but that music continues to remind me of what a masterpiece it was.

The most inspiring part to me is its opening film which uses Ravel’s Bolero and shows a different angle of a night city combined with digital elements. This opening film is from 20 years ago, and it’s really hard to find now, but the music still reminds me of that masterpiece.

To begin with, there was no cat in the film. I imagined a deserted city with digital features as I thought that would create a feeling of loneliness. However, after I had already created several shots, I happened across an incredible independent game called ‘HK’. The game features this cat walking around the futuristic streets of Kowloon city, and this gave me the idea of using a cat in the Pause titles.

Pause Xiaolin Zeng

I have two cats, and I decided to use one of them in the film as the little spirit that guides the viewer through the and this became the cornerstone of the opening titles.

And finally, if you died and got reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?

That’s a very interesting question; I think it would be a soundtrack from game “Halo 3”, named “Never Forget”. I came across this music from very young age, and it influenced me so much as a Halo gamer. When I hear this song, it will remind me of my childhood and my beloved things.

Never Forget"
Never Forget (2007)
Martin O'Donnell
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What began as a fun question to end an interview, has now become a wonderfully eclectic collaborative playlist by 161 people (and counting).
Xiaolin Zeng
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