GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp Announcement

January 7, 2013 | Filed Under Places We Pop Up | No Comments

Last spring a conversation sprung up on twitter about game animation not being as well represented as it could be at conferences world wide. From that discussion, a handful of us got together to do something about it. What we present here is the type of game animation conference I have always dreamed about attending, with an equal focus on both the craft of animation and it’s overlap with game design.

I proudly present the GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp taking place March 25th! This is an opportunity to grow both our craft and our involvement with all things game dev and I hope to see you there!

And spread the word!

GDC 2013 Animation Bootcamp
SanFrancisco, CA
March 25-29

Description
Game animation is a tricky beast. Balancing the want of film style visuals against gameplay constraints is a daily occurrence. While these constraints are very real, as games grow in both technology and emotional resonance, animators must break free of the excuses and help drive this industry forward with the unique skill sets they posses.
Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animators, this bootcamp will be a full day gathering to rally animators from all over the industry with a focus on deeper, more specific discussions into the needs of game animation than a conference with a more varied discipline set is capable of.

The day will start with a focus purely on the craft of animation, focusing on aspects like believability, body mechanics and facial animation. Then throughout the day we transition into how best to apply that knowledge to game development, from wrangling mocap to applying what is learned to understanding game design.

But the animation focus at GDC won’t stop after the bootcamp. Once the main conference begins, the Animation and Character Performance Roundtable run by Tim Borrelli will use the bootcamp as a jumping off point towards cross discipline discussions. This will allow animators as well as designers, programmers, writers and other artists to sync up and become active participants in the overarching topic of more believable characters and motions in games.

Intended Audience
Animators of all skill levels as well as other disciplines interested in what animation has to offer in regards to character performance, emotion, action and gameplay.

Takeaway
Attendees will leave with all manner of new ideas on what game animation is capable of. Be it tips about leveling up their animation fundamentals or how best to work with and use game design, anything that animation comes in contact with during game development will be shown in a new light.

Speakers & Topics

Welcome & Introduction
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
Nate Walpole, Senior Animator, Halo Series and Elder Scrolls Online

Making an Audience Believe
Jalil Sadool, Senior Animator, Dreamworks

The Animation Industry is moving and changing faster than we ever expected. The number of
good animators is increasing every year and finding a stable job in this competitive field is much
harder compared to just a decade ago. What therefore gives an animator this extra edge? We often misunderstand good animation for simply good motion and forget that our main focus as an animator is to fool an audience into believing. Over the course of this talk we will discuss the “Thinking Character” and the little things that we tend to forget but that is incredibly essential for a character to come to life.

It’s Alive! Developing Animal/Creature Movement, Personality and Presentation
Amy Drobeck, Senior Animator, WB Seattle

The purpose of this session is to outline the process of bringing a creature/animal to life from the skeleton up. It will begin with an overview of anatomy, continue with a breakdown of movement that includes character/personality development and end with the realization of these assets in cinematic and in-game formats.

From Stage to Screen: How to Get the Most Out of Your Mocap
Simon Unger, Animation Director, Hitman:Absolution

As commonplace in game development as overtime, motion capture is often one of the largest, most inefficient expenses on a production.The goal of this talk is to give attendees better tools and practices to squeeze more performance and value out of their mocap. We will cover all the stages; from initial planning and casting to final implementation in game. We’ll also have a look at some not-so-common uses of this often misunderstood tool.

Animating the 3rd Assassin
Jonathan Cooper, Animation Director, Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed III’s new-world organic environments presented an opportunity to update the animation throughout the game with revised systems of navigation, combat and crowdlife, as well as new additions like animal wildlife, moving ships and tree-running. This presentation covers the decision-making behind these various improvements, making Assassin’s Creed III’s new protagonist Connor even more fluid in motion than previous entries while maintaining the series trademark sense of weight and connection to the environment.

Giving Purpose to 1st Person Animation
Ryan Duffin, Senior Animator, EA/Danger Close

First person games have been around for decades and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon! Arguably, no perspective is better to immerse a player in your world but how can you make your character feel like more than a camera on a stick , immersing them in their environment without sacrificing responsive player controls or making them vomit from motion sickness? This talk will focus on the particular animation needs of hands, bodies and weapons to better immerse your player in their avatar.

Designing a Performance
Ed Hooks, Acting for Animators
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online

Character animation in games can not rely solely on the methods used in film. Creating emotionally engaging and empathetic characters in a video game doesn’t stop when you finalize the animation. If you want to fully apply the principles of animation and acting into your game, you need to be aware of how and when your animations are being used by both the game and the player. This talk will show how you can approach your animations and game design in a more holistic way.

Q&A Roundtable
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
A catch all for any questions attendees may have concerning all topics covered. Also a primer for the conversations that will continue at the Animation and Character Roundtable during the rest of GDC.

Episode 40 – Outsourced

December 6, 2012 | Filed Under Episodes | 3 Comments

TOPIC: Outsourcing
Guest: Jon Jones, Art Outsourcing Manager with smArtist

Sooooo, how have you been these last five months? Did you do something new with your hair? It looks great!

Nothing too crazy new from our side of things. A couple of us shipped some games and we all still live in the same places as the last episode. So anyone that bet Ryan would now be living in Borneo and I would be living in Alaska by the next recording, pay up!

This episode we talk about our love of smaller, downloadable games, a lack of gateway co-op experiences on consoles, organizing the Animation Bootcamp for GDC 2013, and layoffs. Then we all knife fight Jon with our words about how outsourcing is trying to take our jobs.

We have been meaning to have Jon on to talk about this for literally years as outsourcing is a topic that most devs only see from one angle and after many failed chances, we finally found the right time to record all four of us. Which for the record is late at night into early morning. On a random Wednesday.

Which means, as a bonus, you get to hear me transform from a passionate game developer into a passionate cat lover over the course of 2 hours without the use of any alcohol. So join us won’t you?!

Show Notes:
Good Guy Jon Jones Meme
Lessons on Perspective
Predicting Layoffs
Layoff Survival Guide

Sister Cat

Episode 39 – Girl Trouble

July 10, 2012 | Filed Under Episodes, Random | 5 Comments

TOPIC: Sexism in games and gamers
Guest: Caryn Vainio, UI artist at Uber Entertainment

I bet you haven’t heard enough about the Tomb Raider trailer debacle? How about Anita Sarkeesian and her “tropes vs women in videogames” kickstarter?  Well, sit down for a spell and listen to our take on it, because us and the people we agree with tend to be right about most things.

I know some people are thinking this is a dead horse topic. No one is making you listen.  But you should anyway.  I can say with certainty that I’ve learned and changed lot since this whole thing started a few weeks ago at E3 and my eyes were opened more even in the course of this podcast conversation.  Caryn explains some pretty basic but powerful things in a way that might make a lightbulb go on for you too.

I know this episode comes a little late to the conversation but it was actually recorded two weeks ago and a pretty major edit was required and the editor (me) is also crunching like crazy to ship a game.  The edit (you’ll know it when you get there) had nothing to do with the topic of sexism but rather how games portray other real-life horrors and Mike brought up the issue regarding one particularly, belligerent Gamespot reporter’s take on the game I am working on.

My (edited out) opinions on the topic aren’t particularly surprising, if you were ever to hear them.  I continue to do Reanimators because my voice is not owned by any company and I think these conversations about games can be helpful to both us and the listeners. But in exchange for that, it is very important for me to steer well clear of ever being mistaken for a mouthpiece for any company I work for or have worked for.   Companies already have people for that. Me? I get hired to make shit look good.  My opinions are my own but there is no prudent way for me to weigh in on a controversy of a game I am currently working on, especially when it’s not out yet.  So that part is gone and we resume with where that conversation segued too.

Also, sorry for the PC fan noise at parts.  I was (unsuccessfully) trying out a new mic arrangement.  My bad.

Show Notes (LOTS of show notes for this one):

Episode 38-April Fools

April 18, 2012 | Filed Under Episodes | 2 Comments

TOPIC: First words and roundtable chat
Guest: Jalil Sadool, Senior Animator at Dreamworks

As is par for the course, it’s been a while since our last episode and when we finally got together to record on April Fool’s Day, our original guest had to drop out at the last minute because his house was under siege by bears.  Luckily, we’ve been wanting to talk shop with Jalil for quite some time now and he came to the rescue at the last minute.  Not from the bears.  We don’t help people with their wild animal problems if they snub us for the podcast.  Bad luck too, since Mike’s wife is a taxidermist and probably knows a thing or two about making bears dead.  But one must have principles.

We talked about how much creative control fans should have, RPGs, Kickstarter with it’s potential ups and downs, talk comic books, gush about Journey and Mike tells us why he loves mocap so much that he wants to marry it.

Show Notes:

Hollywood’s Waning Creativity

Ryan’s Kickstarter Blog/Rant

Art Gets Better – Mike Jungbluth

March 19, 2012 | Filed Under Art Gets Better | 4 Comments

Born from twitter, we thought it would be fun to create a blog where “industry pros can post horrible old work and give some current students hope.”

A sort of “It Gets Better” for aspiring artists. So, as to never miss out on a pun, we bring you:

Art Gets Better

Mike Jungbluth
Senior Animator at Zenimax Online
Final Semester, Senior Year (2004)
Lightwave – Modeled, Rigged & Animated

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