2016 GDC Animation Bootcamp Speakers and Schedule

December 7, 2015 | Filed Under Places We Pop Up | No Comments

The past three years of the animation bootcamp have been an incredible success, making GDC a place animators NEED to be each year. We have seen talks at the bootcamp rank as some of the highest rated of the conference and become industry touchstones for new approaches and advancements in the field.

And the 2016 GDC Animation Bootcamp is going to continue pushing forward as the most jam packed year yet, with more than 20 speakers presenting!

Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animation experts, across AAA and Indie, the bootcamp is a daylong gathering to rally developers from all over the industry, with a focus on deeper discussions into the needs of strong character performances and interactivity. There is no better place to learn and talk about game animation approaches, tech, and inspiration than at the bootcamp!

If you want to attend the show this March 14th, sign up before February 3rd for the best price!

And like the previous years, we hope to have an episode of the podcast with presenters about who they are and what the talks are going to be about.

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Animating Big Personalities by David Gibson (Blizzard)/ 60 minutes
Summary:
From Evolve to Overwatch, learn insights into David’s approach to creating larger than life characters.
Bio:
David Gibson has been animating professionally for 12 years. Most recently he shipped Evolve as Supervising Animator before joining Blizzard to animate on Overwatch. Prior to working in games, David animated on Feature and VFX films such as Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Enchanted, Charlotte’s Web, Arthur Christmas, Spider Wick Chronicles, oh…and Beverly Hills Chihuahua! David enjoys the challenge of adding personality to characters that can’t emote through dialogue or a complex face. For this reason animating creatures is David’s favorite as he has to rely on the personality within the motion to create a connection with the viewer. David currently lives in Long Beach California with his beautiful wife, two kids, two dogs, and a very fat cat.

Embracing Animation Complexity in EA UFC 2 Through Procedural Techniques by Geoff Harrower and Jeremy Mathiesen (EA Canada)/ 60 Minutes
Summary:
After an amazing talk last year, join the UFC team again to learn how they are procedurally generating animations, as an alternative to mocap, to fill in an exponentially larger set of move tree requirements.
Bio:
Geoff Harrower is a Senior Software Engineer at Electronic Arts and is currently the lead gameplay engineer on EA Sports UFC.  In his fourteen years at Electronic Arts, Geoff has developed an expertise in animation and gameplay working on such titles as FIFA, NHL, Tennis, NBA, SSX and UFC.  Geoff has also worked in central technology roles helping to drive and develop the animation tools used throughout the company.
Jeremy Mathiesen  is the Lead Gameplay Animator on EA Sports UFC. Jeremy, a seventeen-year veteran of the industry, joined EA in 2012. As well as EA’s UFC, Jeremy has worked on such titles as Punch Out!!, Sleeping Dogs and Prototype 2. When Jeremy’s not creating the virtual world of Mixed Martial Arts, he can be found wrestling his fellow colleagues during their lunchtime Jiu Jitsu class.

Rain World Animation Process by Joar Jakobsson and James Therrien (Video Cult)/ 30 Minutes
Summary:
Rain World’s slugcat is instantly appealing, and the process behind the creation is a unique blend of art and tech that you won’t want to miss.
Bio:
Joar Jakobsson is a Swedish programmer, illustrator and graphic designer who is obsessively interested in every art form there is. He especially enjoys game-making, believing it to be one of the most diverse creative mediums out there. He is currently utilizing all of his talents in a project called Rain World.
James Therrien is a composer for numerous game soundtracks, James Therrien is also one half of Chiptune duo Bright Primate. He can usually be found making music with hacked Gameboys and such, but recently has found himself building the remains of an ancient civilization in Rain World

Skylander’s Cinematics – Creating Narrative Driven Cinematics with a cast of 300 Plus Characters by John Paul Rhinemiller (Vicarious Visions)/ 30 Minutes
Summary:
How do you go about creating cinematics for a cast of characters that number more than 300?! Find out the process and tools used to tackle such a unique feat straight from the Lead Cinematics Animator.
Bios:
John Paul Rhinemiller is a Lead Cinematics Animator at Vicarious Visions, Activision Blizzard. He recently finished work on Skylanders:SuperChargers, where he helped create story driven cinematics from concept to final render. Before VV he was a Lead Animator at Rhythm & Hues and had the chance of working with both creature and character animation. He has previously worked on titles such as Hop, Yogi Bear, Alvin & The Chipmunks 2 and 3, Red Dead Redemption and Skylanders:SwapForce.

The ‘Animate’ Button – Mocap Automation Techniques at Ubisoft Montreal by Dan Lowe (Ubisoft Montreal)/ 30 Minutes
Summary:
We’ve all used tools and scripts to help make our jobs easier, but what if we took this to the extreme? Find out about new techniques from Ubisoft Montreal that offer potentially huge productivity benefits for motion editing.
Bios:
Dan Lowe is a Senior Technical Animator at Ubisoft Montreal with over 10 years experience in gameplay animation and motion capture. His previous titles include Far Cry 3, Watch_Dogs and Far Cry Primal. Prior to joining Ubisoft, Dan worked as a Gameplay Animator and briefly as a Game Designer at Bizarre Creations, where he helped ship Blur, James Bond: Blood Stone and The Club. As well as his day-to-day work animating system for games, Dan works with programmers and TDs at Ubisoft focusing on tools and processes to improve mocap pipeline efficiency. He has a BA in Games Design from Teesside University.

Animator’s Approach to Motion Fields by Kristjan Zadziuk(Ubisoft Toronto)/ 30 Minutes
Summary:
Motion Fields are the latest approach at creating smooth and responsive animation sets. Find out what this means for animators and how Ubisoft Toronto is approaching the technology.
Bio:
Kristjan Zadziuk has been animating games for 16 years, including lead and senior roles at Hothouse Creations, Pivotal Games, Bizarre Creations in the UK as well as Ubisoft Montreal.  His work on the original Assassins Creed helped the award winning animation team establish itself as a pinnacle of games animation in 2007. Kristjan joined the newly formed Ubisoft Toronto studio in 2011 as the Animation Director for Splinter Cell Blacklist.  He brought with him his passion for animation, a detailed approach to character creation and extensive experience working with motion capture.  He helped define the basis of the game play animation team and has begun laying the ground work for pushing the animation quality of Ubisoft Toronto in the future.

Tricks of the Trade by Alex M. Lehmann (Riot), Simon Unger (Phoenix Labs), Jay Hosfelt(Epic), Billy Harper (SucketPunch), Jean-Denis Haas (ILM), Amy Drobeck (5th Cell)/ 30 Minutes
Summary:
Six incredible animators sharing their top three tricks of the trade! Walking away from this talk you will have no shortage of new ways to tackle your next animation.
Bio:
Amy Drobeck is a Senior Character Animator with 20 years experience working successfully in both Feature Film and Game industries. She specializes in both 2D and 3D mediums with special interest in creature/animal animation, dramatic acting and dialogue.
Billy Harper is an eMOTIONalist at Sucker Punch Productions. That means that he gets to pester a bunch of different folks involved in character art, animation, and cinematics. Prior to that, he co-founded The Dreamhive where he worked with incredibly talented artists, studios, directors, and entertainers like Joe Madeuiria, Jason Rubin, David Fincher, Madonna, Ready at Dawn, SCEA, and EA to help them bring their visions to life. Over his career he’s worked on a wide range of games. He’s contributed his character art, rigging, and animation skills to action adventure titles like Mark of Kri, The Jak and Daxter Series, and the inFAMOUS series. As well as sports titles like NFL Street and Madden. Also online MMO and casual games like Warhammer:Age of Reckoning and Snood. Along the way, he’s learned the importance of working with folks you love and trust…and most of all remembering that working on games should be FUN!
Jay Hosfelt has been at Epic Games for the last ten years, and was lead animator on Gears of War 2, 3, and Gears of War Judgment.  He is currently working on an unannounced title at Epic Games.  He has been in the video game industry for over 20 years and has specialized strictly in animation for the last ten years.
Alex M. Lehmann has been working in the industry for 14 years. He started his career as an all-rounder rigging, modeling, and animating characters for commercials. Later he specialized in animation and worked first at Microsoft and then Sony Imageworks (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”). Alex found his true calling by joining the games industry when he came to Riot in 2009 to work on “League of Legends.” He helped create champions, different game modes, as well as the creatures for the game. Alex currently serves as an art director, where he focuses on team growth and individual career development for a team of 35+ artists. Alex currently lives in Valencia, CA, with his wonderful wife and three young children.
Simon Unger has been animating in games for over 15 years and is currently an animator at Phoenix Labs in Vancouver. Before that he worked on Hitman: Absolution for Square Enix in the role of Animation Director. He also spent nearly nine years at Electronic Arts, most of which in the role of Lead Cinematic Animator. Simon has previously spoken at GDC and is an instructor at iAnimate.

Animation Microtalks by Lana Bachynski (Blizzard), Mark Pullyblank(THEIA Interactive), Jake Clark(Cuphead), Gwen Frey(The Molasses Flood), Billy Harper(Sucker Punch), Jeet Shroff(Avalanche), Simon Unger(Phoenix Labs), Ryan Duffin(DICE LA), Mike Jungbluth(Volition),  Danielle Riendeau(Polygon)/ 60 Minutes
Summary:
Buckle up as ten speakers get just over five minutes to speak on the topic of “Perception”

From reflections to rants, these rapid fire talks will be the extra nudge, from a day of continued inspiration, to go out and make a difference with your animations.
Bio:
Lana Bachynski is an Animator at Blizzard Entertainment for Heroes of the Storm, co-creator of Tea Time Animation, and yoyo aficionado. Find her anywhere @Latienie.
Jake Clark is a Canadian animator that has worked on several TV series in Vancouver, before joining Studio MDHR to work on the up-and-coming indie game Cuphead as a traditional paper animator. He grew up in rural British Columbia, and has been passionate about both games and animation from a young age.
Ryan Duffin is a 14 year year veteran of the games industry, animating on such titles as BATTLEFIELD 3 and 4, MEDAL OF HONOR: WARFIGHTER, ALAN WAKE, KILLZONE 2, SPIDERMAN 2 and others, as well as the GREEN LANTERN feature film.  He is currently a Senior Animator at DICE LA.
Gwen Frey is an experienced Technical Animator with specialties in rigging, animation state set up, and character scripting. She is best known for crafting all of the background characters in BioShock Infinite and the BioShock Infinite DLC. More recently, Gwen and five other ex-Irrational developers have founded The Molasses Flood and Kickstarted the rogue-lite game “The Flame in The Flood.”
Billy Harper is an eMOTIONalist at Sucker Punch Productions. That means that he gets to pester a bunch of different folks involved in character art, animation, and cinematics. Prior to that, he co-founded The Dreamhive where he worked with incredibly talented artists, studios, directors, and entertainers like Joe Madeuiria, Jason Rubin, David Fincher, Madonna, Ready at Dawn, SCEA, and EA to help them bring their visions to life. Over his career he’s worked on a wide range of games. He’s contributed his character art, rigging, and animation skills to action adventure titles like Mark of Kri, The Jak and Daxter Series, and the inFAMOUS series. As well as sports titles like NFL Street and Madden. Also online MMO and casual games like Warhammer:Age of Reckoning and Snood. Along the way, he’s learned the importance of working with folks you love and trust…and most of all remembering that working on games should be FUN!
Mike Jungbluth is the Lead Animator at Volition and Co-Organizer of the GDC Animation Bootcamp. Past games include Shadow of Mordor, Elder Scrolls Online, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Singularity, and Wolfenstein. He has talked at various conferences and universities about advancing animation by embracing game design, has been featured on Gamasutra and is a co-host of the ReAnimators Podcast.
Mark Pullyblank began his animation career animating talking animals on the first Garfield movie. He has been an animation supervisor at Rainmaker Digital and Frantic Films, a senior animator at Sony Imageworks, and has worked in various departments at Weta Digital and a former mentor at Animation Mentor.com. His films include Avatar, The Hobbit,The Adventures of Tintin, The Smurfs, Night at the Museum, and many others. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of THEIA Interactive,  the Animation Department head of CG Spectrum, and a lecturer at California State University in Chico California.
Danielle Riendeau is an editorial video producer at Polygon, a lecturer at Northeastern University and a podcast host on the Idle Thumbs network. She’s also a hobbyist game developer, with such *hits* under her belt as “The Wonderful World of Dad Jokes” and a fitness/boxing enthusiast.
Jeet Shroff comes from a background in animation, AI  and gameplay, where he has worked as a director and engineer on game titles across multiple genres for over ten years. Currently he is a lead programmer at Avalanche Studios, where he is responsible for the development of player mechanics, AI and animation technology for Just Cause 3. His other industry experience includes working at Ubisoft Montreal and Electronic Arts where he has worked on successfully shipped titles for major franchises such as Far Cry 3 and FIFA. He is an active presenter at the Game Developer Conference and a contributing author of Game AI Pro 2: Collected Wisdom of Game AI Professionals. Jeet holds a Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.
Simon Unger has been animating in games for over 15 years and is currently an animator at Phoenix Labs in Vancouver. Before that he worked on Hitman: Absolution for Square Enix in the role of Animation Director. He also spent nearly nine years at Electronic Arts, most of which in the role of Lead Cinematic Animator. Simon has previously spoken at GDC and is an instructor at iAnimate.

Episode 45 – Talking with the 2015 GDC Bootcampers

January 20, 2015 | Filed Under Episodes | No Comments

TOPIC: GDC 2015 Animation Bootcamp
GUESTS: Oh So Many

Well hey there! It’s time for our annual meet the bootcamp speakers episode. This time I am joined by Tim Borrelli as we put some lovely voices to the equally lovely names. This is a pretty long episode, so I included time stamps below for when we start talking to each guest.

And as you listen, do swing by our brand spanking new forum to give us your thoughts and let us know if you will be at the Bootcamp on March 2nd! And then stick around and post your thoughts on other animation related things while you are at it!

Enjoy!

Mariel Cartwright 0:09 
James Benson 0:28
Elliot Grossman 0:53
Jonathan Cooper 1:09
Brianna Wu 1:43
Lee Dowsett & Geoff Harrower  2:17
Jami Jeffcoat 2:33
Mike Bithell 2:49

Show Notes
Ori and the Blind Forest
Warsoup
Dance Fortress 2
Half Life Trailer by James
Revolution 60
UFC Tech
Volume

 

2015 GDC Animation Bootcamp Schedule

November 3, 2014 | Filed Under Places We Pop Up | No Comments

Here are the speakers and talk summaries for the 2015 GDC Animation Bootcamp! I hope to have an episode of the podcast interviewing each presenter like the previous years at the beginning of the year.

As you can see, it is even more varied in content and disciplines than years past, which I believe speaks to the evolution of the skills required for game animation compared to other forms of the craft. Our goal is to enable people to share the craft of game animation in a way that hasn’t been available before the bootcamp, as well as shine a spotlight on the animators themselves, giving them a voice and connection to the industry. And this lineup definitely delivers on that goal!

If you want to attend the show this March, sign up before January 21st for the best price! We hope to see you there!

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Live 2D Demo by Mariel Cartwright (Lab Zero Games)
Summary:
Animating is tough as it is, but game animation has its own set of rules to adhere to. How do you approach and execute an animation intended for a game? Join and watch a live 2D traditional animation demo that will demonstrate the way the fighting game Skullgirls is animated, and learn not only about the thought processes behind its animation, but also watch it get animated!
Bio:
Mariel Cartwright is an illustrator and animator based in Los Angeles. She is lead animator at Lab Zero Games, working on the 2D fighting game Skullgirls, and also works regularly with Wayforward on a number of titles.

The Animation Process of Ori by James Benson (Camp Santo)
Summary:
Tasked with creating hundreds of character animations that would would blend seamlessly into a painted 2d world, but without any ability to illustrate, what technical and creative tricks could you employ to succeed? An exercise in using your constraints to your advantage, this 30 minute talk tracks the (hopefully) successful attempt to create thousands of Ghibli­style frames of animation with limited time, people and personal skillset. Focusing almost exclusively on specific technical takeaways and the pros and cons of every decision that was made.
Bio:
James Benson is an animator and game designer from the UK. He started his career at Lionhead on FABLE 3 and MILO and KATE. After leaving Lionhead he created the animation for ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST. With that project wrapped up he is now working at Campo Santo on FIREWATCH.

Locomotion of Sunset Overdrive by Elliot Grossman (Insomniac Games)
Summary:
Sunset Overdrive pushes velocity while fluidly traversing through the dangerous world of the awesomepocalypse.  But while the hero’s locomotion allows players to quickly move from point A to B, Insomniac’s development process was not always straightforward.  We’ll take a look at the many unexpected discoveries we made while searching for Sunset Overdrive’s animation style, and how diving head first into the unknown helped us create something new.
Bio:
Elliot Grossman is a senior animator at Insomniac Games currently working on the hero character for Sunset Overdrive DLC.  Past games include Sunset Overdrive (Gameplay Animator) Fuse (responsible for hero stealth takedown system), Family Guy:  Back to the Multiverse, Spongebob: Truth or Squared, Up:  The Video Game, WALL-E:  The Video Game,  and Ratatouille: The Video Game.

Women Are Not Too Hard To Animate by Brianna Wu (Giant Spacekat) Mariel Cartwright (Lab Zero Games) Jonathan Cooper (Naughty Dog) Tim Borrelli (5th Cell)
Summary:
Diversity in game characters has been a controversial subject, especially over the past year. From claims that “women are too hard to animate” to supposed limitations in tech and resources, the fact is that there are many genders, races and orientations that are sorely under-represented in games. This panel will use its expertise in game planning & tech (Brianna Wu), large-scale animation direction (Jonathan Cooper) and independent, diverse animation creation (Mariel Cartwright) to discuss how game teams can plan for diverse characters and performances from an animation standpoint. It’s time we stop relying on the age-old excuses.
Bios:
Brianna Wu is a founder of Giant Spacekat, an indie development studio in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also known as a blogger and co-host of the weekly Isometric podcast on the 5by5 network. She has also written high-profile essays and opinion pieces about issues related to feminism and antagonistic attitudes toward women in game development.
Mariel Cartwright is an illustrator and animator based in Los Angeles. She is lead animator at Lab Zero Games, working on the 2D fighting game Skullgirls, and also works regularly with Wayforward on a number of titles.
Jonathan Cooper is an animator on Uncharted 4 at Naughty Dog, previously directing the animation for Assassin’s Creed III and leading animation teams on Mass Effect 1 & 2 among others. Originally from Scotland, he has truly been spoiled working on some of the more progressive story and character-heavy games in the last decade across Canada and the US. His goal is to bring video games kicking and screaming into the public consciousness as the most formidable cultural art-form of our time.
Tim Borrelli has worked in the games industry for over 16 years, currently for 5th Cell as a Lead Animator and previously for Volition, both as a Lead Animator and as the company’s first Technical Animator. His work has included animation creation & direction, mocap direction & cleanup, and technical animation on game series such as Freespace, Summoner, Red Faction, and Saints Row, as well as the Scribblenauts franchise and Hybrid, 5th Cell’s Summer Of Arcade title in 2012. His speaking experience includes running the Technical Animation Roundtable, Animation & Character Performance Roundtable, and speaking on animation related panels and talks at GDC and PAXDev.

UFC Animation System by Lee Dowsett and Geoff Harrower (EA Canada)
Summary:
Creating the animation system for a UFC game from the ground up presented us with some unique and interesting challenges.  With a roster of over 100 fighters all with unique styles, personalities and proportions we were tasked with delivering quality and breadth of animation that surpassed that of the previous generation of consoles.  From a close quarters grappling system heavy on two man animation content to procedural animation solutions, we will present to you the technology, workflows, tricks and sleight of hand we used in developing EA Sports UFC.
Bios:
Lee Dowsett is the Animation Director for EA sports UFC and has been at the EA Canada studio for over ten years.  During his decade at EA, Lee has been the Animation Director for Fight Night series and has also worked on everything from Facebreaker to FIFA.  Previously to EAC, Lee worked at a number of games and animation studios in the UK, including Hothouse Creations and Sony.
Geoff Harrower is a Senior Software Engineer at Electronic Arts and is currently the lead gameplay engineer on EA Sports UFC.  In his thirteen years at Electronic Arts Geoff has developed an expertise in animation and gameplay working on such titles as FIFA, NHL, Tennis, NBA, SSX and UFC.  Geoff has also worked in central technology roles helping to drive and develop the animation tools used throughout the company.

The Missing Link – Technical Designers in Animation by Jami Jeffcoat (Bungie)
Summary:
The design team wants this, but the animators need that, and the engineers haven’t even heard of the feature you’re talking about! Sound like a familiar scenario? From implementing run-time code, to building tools, to rapid bug fixing – this talk overviews what Technical Designers in Animation mean to the Bungie studio, and how our position is utilized to build a bridge across the Animation, Animation Engineering, and Design teams. Listeners will walk away from this talk with information to help implement or evolve this kind of position at their own studio.
Bio:
Jami Jeffcoat has been working as a Technical Designer in Animation since her graduation from The Guildhall at SMU in 2012.  She likes to utilize her mixed education – a Bachelors in Computer Science and Masters of Interactive Technology in Art Creation – at Bungie to help bring the world of Destiny to life, and strives to create harmony between engineers, animators, and designers on the daily.

Refining A Mechanic’s Personality by Mike Bithell (Mike Bithell Games)
Summary:
Animation is often thought of as an art task, a layer of polish. In the low budget and indie sectors, it’s often one of the first areas to be cut down for financial reasons. This talk focuses on the way in which design, code, VO and mechanical context can be used in tandem with animation to create character and performance, and allow for budget to be spent where it counts – creating unique characters. Thomas Was Alone will be used as an initial case study, before moving on to the ways in which MoCap, animation and design have been combined to tell stories and convey personality in Volume.
Bio:
Mike Bithell is the creator of the award winning Thomas Was Alone, and its upcoming follow up, Volume. Having worked in industry as a designer on a number of console and social games, a hobby game spun him off into starting his own studio to make games focused on game feel and storytelling. His next game, Volume, will release shortly after GDC.

Episode 44 Part 3

October 20, 2014 | Filed Under Random | No Comments

TOPIC: GDC 2014 with
Rick Blankenship @rickblankenship
Mike Jungbluth @lightbombmike
Ryan Duffin @animationmerc
Matt Derksen @mattderksen
Simon Unger @simonunger
Jay Hosfelt @hosfross
Tim Borrelli @anim8der
Mellissa Shim @SlappaDeBass
Victor Chavez @TorVez

In Order for iTunes to get all of these, we need to break each into individual posts. If you want to hear all three in one place, go here

Part 3: The Shitshow
What we would be doing if not animating
Muse questions for the new folks
Ryan’s stupid car

Episode 44 Part 2

October 20, 2014 | Filed Under Random | 3 Comments

TOPIC: GDC 2014 with
Rick Blankenship @rickblankenship
Mike Jungbluth @lightbombmike
Ryan Duffin @animationmerc
Matt Derksen @mattderksen
Simon Unger @simonunger
Jay Hosfelt @hosfross
Tim Borrelli @anim8der
Mellissa Shim @SlappaDeBass
Victor Chavez @TorVez

In Order for iTunes to get all of these, we need to break each into individual posts. If you want to hear all three in one place, go here

Part Two: Down the rabbit hole
Thinks veer a little more off course…
Jay joins the frey
Developer and games media relations
Early internet stories
Improving GDC roundtables and Q&A, devs and students
1st party and 3rd party tools
Animation degrees
Sexy clowns

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