Fang Zhao could handle the overall artistic vision and manage his staff, but the other members of the team weren't as mentally strong as he was. They were still affected by the pressure, both internally and externally. Even Zu Wen was making careless mistakes.
Thus Fang Zhao pronounced at their meeting every three days after surveying everyone's progress.
"My apologies. My focus hasn't been great. But we are indeed short-handed. The music video for the second chapter is even more complicated than the first. It's a tall order to maintain production quality and meet the advanced deadline next month." After starting on the video for the second chapter, Zu Wen had realized it was more challenging than the one for the first chapter. He also wasn't good at managing large scenes. He made mistakes frequently, but he didn't feel comfortable delegating to technicians from other departments.
"I agree. It's best that we recruit a few more Reg Dimension technicians, ones that excel at staging scenes with many characters." Zeng Huang agreed with Zu Wen. Even though they had a few loaned technicians from other departments, they weren't on the same page, leading to occasional disputes. They didn't follow instructions.
"Let's recruit a few more people," Song Miao suggested. She wasn't assigned to the virtual idol department initially. She applied for a formal transfer after the first movement was released and became an official member of the team. Only their own staffers would go all out and dedicate themselves to the project.
Fang Zhao shifted his gaze to Zu Wen. "Zu Wen, any recommendations?"
"Internal candidates or external?" Zu Wen asked.
"Internal." The Polar Light project had received a lot of attention. Outsiders might not be trustworthy. It was best to hire internally.
"Got it. Let me ask around." Technicians like Zu Wen had their own chat groups. He was friendly with a few of his colleagues. The department ended up being overstaffed during last year's expansion and a few technicians were crowded out. Now the department had been revamped and was recruiting. He could ask if they wanted back in.
Fang Zhao also posted a notice on the label's internal chat forum: "Virtual Idol Department on the 50th Floor Seeking Reg Dimension Technicians."
The notice didn't generate many responses. Quite a few staffers saw the notice but adopted a wait-and-see attitude. There was too much press coverage of the project. The praise was over the top. If the second movement failed, the backlash would be just as intense. They were reluctant to make a move when the project's fate was still unclear.
"Can I switch fields?" Bei Zhi asked his manager after seeing the notice.
His agent vetoed the idea without hesitation. "Considering your IQ, you better keep singing."
"There are quite a few smart singers."
"And you think you're one of them?"
"..." Bei Zhi went silent.
"Don't think too much. Go practice the new song you got yesterday. I won't say anything if you want to help out on the 50th floor when you're free, but don't think about switching careers. Reg Dimension technology is too difficult." Bei Zhi's agent recalled his greenhorn days when he also aspired to become a Reg Dimension technician. Unfortunately, he didn't have the talent. Just seeing the lines of code gave him a headache.
Ji Polun wasn't contemplating a career change, but he had cleared his schedule for the next 10 days. He left a message for his agent saying he was going to hang out at the virtual idol department on the 50th floor.
His agent didn't disagree this time. The "epic" release boosted Ji Polun's popularity somewhat. More importantly, Ji Polun's acting improved slightly. He didn't know whether it was the acting courses he'd signed Ji Polun up for or if Ji Polun had actually learned a thing or two on the 50th floor. In any case, Ji Polun said he learned a lot over there, so his agent signed off.
The next day, three of Zu Wen's candidates showed up—two men and a woman. They had all spent time in the virtual projects department but were let go. They never thought about coming back. Even though Polar Light was a success so far, they were unclear about the dynamics within the new project team, so they didn't act even when they saw Fang Zhao's notice. They only turned up after being approached by Zu Wen.
Apart from the trio, a fourth candidate responded to Fang Zhao's ad.
"I'm Rodney. I graduated from the Yanzhou University of Science and Technology and joined Silver Wing last year. This is my diploma and my transcript for all six years. I've also included the certificates for awards I've won."
Rodney lined up his certificates in front of Fang Zhao. He wanted to join Silver Wing's virtual projects department after graduating last year, but the department was undergoing a massive expansion then and competition was fierce. A fresh graduate without any connections like him was no match for veteran technicians. So he bided his time in the film production department. He was tempted when he'd heard that the virtual idol department was recruiting a while ago, but he hadn't acted because he hadn't seen an official recruitment notice. When he saw Fang Zhao's notice yesterday, he decided to try his luck.
Frankly speaking, Rodney was a strong candidate. The Yanzhou University of Science and Technology was one of Yanzhou's top schools. Its Reg Dimension department ranked well in the continent. The transcripts and certificates Rodney brandished were impressive. Without a doubt, he was a stellar graduate, maybe even a nerd.
But in a company like Silver Wing, nerds were everywhere. Every department had a few geniuses. Even the unimpressive Zu Wen had an impeccable resume. That was why he was kept on while others were crowded out during the virtual projects department's expansion last year. The reason was simple—his technical skills were superior.
Speaking of which, Zu Wen had also graduated from the Yanzhou University of Science and Technology. He was only a few years ahead of Rodney.
Fang Zhao sent Zu Wen a text message. "Have you heard of Rodney?"
Zu Wen, who was working on something with Zeng Huang and company, responded immediately. "No."
Fang Zhao didn't follow up, turning his attention instead to Rodney's graduation project, a video he had made. It was a video of army ants attacking their prey during the Period of Destruction.
Army ants mutated during the Period of Destruction. They became quicker and larger and proliferated in numbers. They were awfully deadly.
Rodney's video probably drew from documentary footage and films about army ants. There were quite a few flaws in the details, but overall, he had successfully conveyed the invincible aura of the species. Otherwise the video would not have been deemed prize-worthy.
Fang Zhao didn't speak and Rodney couldn't read his face. He kept rubbing his palms on his knees. For some reason, even though the project head before him was younger than he was, he felt like he was dealing with a professor at school. He was too scared to take a deep breath and his palms were sweaty.
"Do you game?" Fang Zhao asked.
"Huh?" Rodney was caught off guard by the abrupt question.
How many Reg Dimension technicians could resist the temptation of computer games?
But given the circumstances, Rodney had to consider his answer. What if he came off as a slacker? Being caught lying was worse.
Rodney hemmed and hawed before whispering, "I do, but actually, I—"
"Actually, I'm a decent gamer." He was going to say he didn't game often but switched gears. Thank God he had a quick wit and quick reflexes.
"Fill out your transfer application before 10 a.m. I'll pull your file."
"Got it. I'll get on it right away." Rodney answered gingerly.
"I'll give you a day to rest. Start tomorrow."
"Sounds good. I'll head back and get ready."
"Speak up. Can you live at the office?"
"Pack your things and live out of the office."
"Get ready for some major overtime."
"Any more questions?"
Rodney turned around and ducked into the elevator. He wiped the sweat on his forehead. He was suddenly at a loss.
Something didn't feel right.