Tianyu Wu becomes wrestling fan after animating ‘WWE 2K19’

Growing up in Lanzhou, a city in North West China, Tianyu Wu loved to draw. Her teachers would often tease her for covering her desk in doodles, often inspired by watching cartoons and reading Japanese Manga. She loved recreating vivid and colorful characters from comics and anime shows. As she grew, she started adopting all these styles and rather than recreating characters, she created her own, finding immense joy in bringing something to life from her mind. Now that she is a sought-after Animator in her home country and abroad, she has the opportunity to do just that each and every day.

Millions around the world have seen Wu’s work, although they may not even know it. Anyone who tuned into the first season of DC’s Stargirl, watched the award-winning film Sonder, or played the innovative AR game Wonder X may have been left marveling at Wu’s talent.

“Just having the opportunity to work on these amazing projects has been a dream come true. I feel very fortunate to work with awesome studios. It’s very encouraging to know that my creative outlet is considered a valued profession,” says Wu.

Wu loves seeing her name roll by in the credits, and still fondly remembers doing so after working tirelessly on the acclaimed video game WWE 2K19. WWE 2K19 is a professional wrestling video game developed by Yuke's and published by 2K Sports. It was released worldwide on October 9, 2018 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It is the twentieth game made in the WWE game series and the successor to WWE 2K18.

Wu started a job at the studio 2K Games in 2018 and was immediately put to work on the WWE team. She would be assigned a shot, which was usually a wrestler and the environment, and follow several steps. First, she would animate the camera, with the goal to make it seem like a cameraperson was controlling it. Second, she would do motion-capture clean up and animate the hands to make sure they made good contact. Third, she would work on the faces, ensuring they expressed passionately and realistically; this was an important step to create convincing gameplay. The fourth step was to test all the animation in the game engine, to ensure all the interactions worked well in-game.

Wu’s favorite part of working on the game was working on the entrances, a major part of the performance in the world of wrestling. Each wrestler has a unique entrance that they are famous for, and Wu was given the vital task of recreating these for the game. She made sure they captured the bombastic nature of their real-life counterparts. Along with these entrances, she handled some of their famous signature moves, and spent hours watching videos to learn exactly how each wrestler moved.

“I was never a fan of wrestling, but after working on this I realized how many people enjoy the sportsmanship and performance. WWE has a super strong and passionate fanbase. The great thing about the game is that anyone can play and enjoy it; it’s fun and entertaining so it can be appreciated by fans and newcomers alike. WWE 2K19 offers lots of variety for the player,” says Wu.

After WWE 2K19 was released, it sold over 360,000 copies in the first week. The game went on to sell over a million copies internationally. It received very positive reviews, and gamers loved it. It was even nominated for “Fan Favorite Sports/Racing Game" at the Gamers’ Choice Awards and "Sports, Racing or Fighting Title of the Year" at the Australian Games Awards.

“It made me feel great to be a part of such a big success. When the game was completed, I received a copy and got to see my name in the credits, that feeling of pride is icing-on-the-cake compared to the fulfillment I had creating it,” says Wu.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to play WWE 2K19 to experience a great gaming experience and witness some of Wu’s stunning animation.