Rodney was still at a loss when he arrived on the 50th floor the next day. He wasn't sure if he'd made the right call in deciding to transfer. He'd had many questions he wanted to ask when he visited the 50th floor yesterday, but for some reason, none of them had come out. He'd signed his contract in a daze and left in the elevator.
After tidying up in the office Fang Zhao had assigned to him, Rodney entered Zu Wen's studio.
"How are you, senior colleague? I'm Rodney, the new hire." Rodney wanted to introduce himself first.
"Cut the bullshit and start helping out." Zu Wen didn't bother to lift his head and pointed to an empty work space beside him. A desktop and other equipment were already in place.
Besides Zu Wen and Zeng Huang, the studio also housed the three other new recruits and Rodney, for a total of six people. The technicians loaned from other departments had left. From now on, the project was an in-house job.
Even though the department had expanded, the workload was still very heavy. They hadn't completed the day's tasks yet, so there was no time to welcome the newbies.
Rodney stopped talking, headed to his work space, and turned on his equipment. He scanned the list of tasks assigned to him. He was surprised. No wonder the department had to expand. Large scenes involved so many elements. Fang Zhao was also a demanding producer who paid close attention to detail. There was no room for fudging. It was time to get serious.
Fang Zhao was recording the second song with Pang Pusong. He still wasn't happy after two straight days of recording, so they had to continue today. Around noon, Zu Wen's staff had completed their assignments for the morning and Rodney still saw no sign of Fang Zhao.
"We've finally finished before lunch for once." Zu Wen rubbed his eyes.
"I'll buy lunch," Zeng Huang said. It was his turn to buy lunch. He left for the cafeteria after asking Rodney if he had any dietary restrictions.
Only then did Zu Wen turn his attention to Rodney.
"You're a new hire? I heard you also graduated from the Yanzhou University of Science and Technology," Zu Wen said.
"Yes. I've heard about you, senior alum. Your graduation project is still on display in the exhibition hall for outstanding student projects," Rodney responded.
"Work hard. The future of our department is bright. You've bet on the right boss." Zu Wen shifted to morale-boosting mode.
"Our boss being?"
"Fang Zhao, of course. He's the head of our department."
"Oh." Rodney nodded and pondered briefly. He followed up with another question. "Say, senior alum, don't you think that Manager Fang looks like Old Shen?"
The "Old Shen" Rodney referred to was a veteran Reg Dimension instructor at the Yanzhou University of Science and Technology. He was well-regarded within the industry. The only thing was that he was too serious and spooked people wherever he went.
One particular scene stayed with every single class of Shen's students: the sight of the entire class paying him their undivided attention. Even if their minds were wandering, they would pretend to be listening to put the old man in a better mood, because if he was in a bad mood he could easily flunk a higher percentage of students.
When the class ahead of Rodney's had gotten on Old Shen's bad side, he dropped the pass rate for the final exam to 50 percent, flunking half of the class. He also refused to give a make-up exam, so the students who flunked ended up having to retake the course with Rodney's class. This time they learned their lesson and managed a bare pass.
Zu Wen graduated three years ago, so he did remember Old Shen, but he misinterpreted Rodney's comment.
"How dare you say that boss looks like an old man?"
"Hush, hush—I'm referring to his aura, not his appearance." Rodney gesticulated wildly.
"You said what you said. I'll remember this transgression."
"No, I just think Manager Fang is a bit... different?" Rodney explained frantically. He just felt that even though Fang Zhao was younger than they were, he had the nerve-inducing presence of a senior professor.
Zu Wen didn't think it mattered. "Artistic types are different from us technical types. There's usually something different about them. As long as he treats us well and lets us game during office hours, I don't care if he's a monster."
"True." Rodney forgot about the weird vibe Fang Zhao had given him yesterday. Zu Wen was right. As long as they were well-paid and could game during office hours, who cared about anything else? They just had to do a good job on their assignments. Whatever else was going on, there was a producer to cover for them.
"Oh, I wanted to ask you something. Senior alum, why is there a lower urinal in the bathroom? Does someone in our department bring their kid to work?"
Zu Wen glared at Rodney like he was an idiot. "It isn't for you and it isn't for a kid. It's for a dog."
While Fang Zhao was tweaking with Pang Pusong's vocal style and articulation and Zu Wen was hard at work with his junior colleagues in the studio, the demo for the second chapter had been delivered to Duan Qianji.
This was something Duan Qianji had demanded of Fang Zhao. Once the demo was ready, he had to send her a copy for vetting.
Listening to the demo ended up taking half a day.
Duan Qianji ended up looping the crude, incomplete demo all afternoon.
She took a long sigh and pressed a few buttons on her desk, commanding her assistant: "Send He Hao and Wayne up. We can move on to the next step already."
Zhu Zhen flashed a look of surprise. "Got it."
'It's about time we let the world know that Silver Wing can produce a decent virtual idol, a real idol!" Duan Qianji said, looking into the distant sunset.
Zhu Zhen relayed the latest gossip. "Boss, it seems that Master Glifetz has been asking around about the Polar Light project."
Glifetz was the former head of the virtual idol department at Silver Wing, the producer in charge, the master virtual idol producer that Silver Wing wooed with a hefty salary. He had produced a few relatively successful virtual idols in his day. He later retired from producing and, as a master of his craft, became a visiting professor at various universities. He taught the occasional class, accepted the rare apprentice, and invested in some projects.
Silver Wing's lucrative offer had lured this long-retired master producer. Before the project kicked off, he confidently vowed that he would jump-start Silver Wing's long-struggling virtual projects. But reality delivered a slap in the face instead.
Glifetz had fallen ill after last year's virtual idol project had fizzled. The official word was that he was still recovering in the hospital, still remaining there after more than a year.
When Duan Qianji had purged last year's project team, Glifetz was naturally upset. Quite a few staffers were students he had handpicked. They were all forced out by Duan Qianji.
When she heard her assistant mention Glifetz, Duan Qianji laughed sarcastically. "That old geezer. I'm sure he's panicking."
Of course Glifetz was panicking—the virtual idol department he had failed to reform was making waves this year. And it had generated heated discussion right off the bat. That was good news for Silver Wing, but not for Glifetz. If the Polar Light project took off, the reputation he had worked for years to build would be in jeopardy.
"Ignore him. Let him keep playing ill at the hospital." Duan Qianji couldn't help another snicker. "I wonder if his condition will 'deteriorate' again."