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Chiang studied film at UCLA and industrial design at the College for Creative Studies. During the late 1980s he worked at various production studios including Rhythm and Hues. Chiang eventually joined Industrial Light and Magic as a creative director where he worked on films such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Forrest Gump. During the late 1990s Chiang served as design director for Lucasfilm on Star Wars Episode I and Star Wars Episode II. Afterwards, he was a production designer on Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express. Outside of film, he collaborated with author Orson Scott Card on an illustrated science fiction book called Robota.
In 2004, Chiang co-founded Ice Blink Studios and worked for Zemeckis on Beowulf. Ice Blink closed in 2007, becoming the core of the facility for Image Movers Digital, a pioneering performance capture animation studio.
Chiang has won numerous awards throughout his career, including an Academy Award and a British Academy Award for Death Becomes Her, a British Academy Award for Forrest Gump, a FOCUS Award for his independent film Mental Block, a Clio Award for his work on a Malaysian Airlines commercial and The BrandLaureate Award.
- Ghost (1990) (visual effects art director: ILM)
- The Doors (1991) (visual effects art director: ILM)
- Switch (1991) (visual effects art director)
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992) (visual effects art director: ILM)
- Death Becomes Her (1992) (visual effects art director: ILM)
- Forrest Gump (1994) (visual effects art director: ILM)
- The Mask (1994) (visual effects art direction supervisor)
- Jumanji (1995) (visual effects art director: ILM)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) (design director, visual effects production designer: ILM)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) (concept design supervisor)
- The Polar Express (2004) (production designer)
- War of the Worlds (2005) (concept artist)
- Monster House (2006) (concept design supervisor)
- Beowulf (2007) (production designer)
- A Christmas Carol (2009) (production designer)
- Mars Needs Moms (2011) (production designer)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) (concept artist)
- Christopher, James (12 April 2000). "Greetings, Earthlings; Arts". The Times. p. 16.