How to be a Roto Artist

In order to convincingly overlap 3D effects to live action footage, the Roto Artist needs to trace the live action areas where the animation will take place, and create clear areas to make sure that elements of the scene are layered correctly.

What is the Job?

The main purpose of a Roto Artist’s task is to prepare the footage for the Compositors to combine the layers of CGI and special effects in a way that makes them blend with the live action.

This process starts with rotoscoping, which consists in tracing the camera movement and creating a 3D space from a 2D footage, where the computer generated images will be placed and interact with the surrounding scene.

Afterwards, Roto Artists have to identify and tracing mattes, which are “clear areas” in which the animation interacts with the live action.

In addition, Roto Artists carry out basic VFX tasks to assist the compositor, such as painting out wires and rigs, doing green and blue screening etc…

Key Skills

An understanding of photography, colour and composition are necessary in order to correctly interpret and imagine the interaction of CGI with live action.

Drawing skills and experience with the relevant software are also necessary.

Precision, eye for detail and patience are the most important skills for this job, as working on a single scene may require long hours and the optimal result will only be reached if the Artist is patient and thorough enough.

Communication and team-work are essential to have a functional relationships with the other members of the VFX department. Especially with the Compositor.

How to get to work as a Roto Artist

A position as Roto Artist can be considered an entry-level job, you can land it straight after university or after some experience and skills working as a Runner in the VFX department.

It is important though, that during your academic or professional experience you keep your portfolio updated, so that you have some sample of your work to share with your future employer.

Education and training

A degree in an art-related subject, such as design, illustration or computer animation, is usually helpful to be hired as a Roto Artist.

Otherwise, gaining experience and network as a Runner, while keep working on your portfolio, can also be a good way in.

Training or attending a course in at least one of the industry standard software is obviously a requirement, while having some basic knowledge of all of them is undeniably beneficial.

Where can it take you?

Experience as a Roto Artist, usually leads directly to a Compositor position, after a few years of experience. Clearly, as all other jobs in the VFX department, Compositors can also aspire to becoming VFX supervisors.

 

How to be a Game Designer

Any new game being released, either as a smartphone app or as a console major production, has its own storyline, rules, gameplay and objectives.

It’s the Game Designer’s job to define all of these variables in order to develop the whole “game experience” before the production theme starts working on the actual playable version of the game.

What is the Job?

Games designers may work on an original idea or develop on an existing project with already determined elements.

They have to come up with:

  • The rules of the game
  • The storyline and its developments
  • The setting of the game
  • The characters, if there are any, including deciding on which are playable and which are just external elements
  • The vehicles, weapons, tools or objects that characters can use
  • The gameplay, including possible multiplayer modes, online versions etc…

Once the designer has put all of these elements together, he/she presents them to the rest of the team in a “concept document” in order to get approval for development.

A prototype is developed upon approval, to test if the original idea will actually work. Meanwhile, the designer starts working one the “full game design document”, describing in detail every element of the game. This document is likely to change in further stages of development.

The designer is also responsible for training testers to play the game, and making sure that the final results meets the original concept it was developed upon.

Key Skills

Being quite a creative job, the required skillset is various, and includes creativity, imagination, storytelling abilities, but also technical knowledge of software packages, console hardware, basic 2D and 3D design, problem solving skills.

An essential trait of a successful Game Designer is a clear vision of what gamers like and what are the latest trends in the gaming industry, in order to be able to come up with original yet appealing ideas.

How to get to work as a Game Designer

There are no specific requirements for this job, but most Game Designers have a degree.

Some experience in the gaming industry is necessary for this role, previous jobs as tester in the quality assurance department are common, as well as apprenticeships and work experiences in the field.

It is advisable to build a portfolio of completed game projects or game design documents, as it is often required by employers.

Education and training

Most degree subjects are acceptable with the right background, however a degree in a Gaming-related subject (Game Development, Digital Arts, etc…) as well as one in the Marketing field seem to be more appropriate to start a career in Game Design.

Most of the training eventually takes place on-the-job, with mentoring from more experienced colleagues and direct experience. It is fundamental, though, to constantly keep up to date on the latest trends in the industry.

Where can it take you?

There is no formal promotion route for this kind of role, obviously it is possible to progress from Junior Designer to Designer and subsequently to Lead Designer. Demonstrating talent and skills can make your work valuable to high-profile employers like big production studios, or you can start working as a freelance on a contract basis, which can be more profitable if demand for your work is high enough.

Optionally, it is also possible to transition into management or marketing positions.

 

The Importance of Networking

Top-Tips-blog-Image

Whether you are a recent graduate looking for your first runner position, or a broadcasting veteran looking for a way back into the industry, don’t underestimate the importance of networking in a job hunt. Creating a network of professional contacts can help you to find unadvertised jobs, build your professional skills to make yourself more employable and help you get your career on the right track.

No one works in isolation so knowing people who work within the industry is the key to both your professional success and your job search success. Networking is the perfect way to meet the professionals in animation and gaming land, who can offer you new perspectives and assistance in seeking that all important new gig.

Attend conferences, discussion groups, workshops and trade shows, and make an effort to meet and exchange contact information with industry folk there – you can find out very quickly who the key people are to seek out.

For many years now, we have been helping to run the animation networking event, Festivus, and its proved to be very popular with the industry. These events are very relaxed (held in a West End pub) have a great mix of age ranges with a good sprinkling of employer and guest speaker. So, if you haven’t been – check out the Events section on the AB site for the next one. You are very much missing out!

Crowd Shot
Festivus Animation Networking Event

Many animation and gaming roles are often unadvertised so if you network with people in the industry, you are in a perfect position to hear about a job via word of mouth and thereby putting you front of the queue for getting it.

Never network solely for the purpose of finding a job as your efforts will be very transparent, and no one wants to be a constant shoulder to lean on; try to be genuinely interested in your professional contacts, and most importantly, learn from them.

Until something permanent or better paying is available, use your networking skills to get in some volunteer work – it’s the experience that may lead to bigger and better things.

Here are my top 10 golden rules:
1) Establish a strong relationship so that contacts recognise you from a face in the crowd.
2) Maintain first name one-on-one recognition.
3) Invite the person out for a coffee or a drink and exchange industry information.
4) Establish a mutual point of interest – search for something you have in common.
5) Send informal notes to confirm meetings.
6) Follow up with a breakfast/coffee meeting to stay in touch.
7) Express interest in finding out more about the person’s talent and knowledge.
8) Forward industry articles of interest.
9) Invite contacts to social events attended by other friends and associates.
10) Make ongoing contact every four to six weeks with the people you meet.

As a general rule people tend to feel most comfortable with others in their age group and this is typically a range of around seven years on either side of a person’s age; it helps create an atmosphere of compatibility but the industry is full of young minded people and there are plenty of industry dudes that are 55 going on 25 so this doesn’t always apply.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that people are attracted to others who are most like them, or to those who offer a different perspective on things; people appreciate and remember when you show personal interest in them (listen out for their charity interests for example).

I’ll leave you with this – networking works! Good relationships take time to build so you must put the effort in, they cannot be maintained without regular communication. But it will pay off in the end so get out there!

Maybe see you at the next one then!

If want further information on our forthcoming events, please get in touch with the AB team at info@animationbase.com    

 

 

 

How to Make Your Way into the Gaming Industry as a Sound Designer

Sound Designer

The video games sector has been undergoing a solid expansion for the past few years. This economic growth, combined with technological advancement making games more and more immersive to the smallest detail, is opening up the market to a much more differentiated set of career paths.

Video games sound design is a particularly rising sector. This kind of career can be the dream of anyone who is passionate about the field, but it also requires many different skills, extensive practice and detailed knowledge.

The job itself consists in recording, producing and editing sounds for gameplay and cutscenes. These sounds then need to be implemented into the game through a middleware, which can be commercial or proprietary of the videogame producer the sound designer works for.

If you are interested in this career path, a specific education is necessary. Sound Design courses and degrees are now widely diffused in the UK, with some very good BAs offered by Music Academies and Universities. However, after learning the theory of sound design, a lot of practice and hands-on experience is essential to make your CV more valuable to employers.

When applying to a job as a sound designer, your portfolio is an asset of irreplaceable value. For this reason you should focus of working on as many projects as you can. There is a number of internships available in the sector and they can provide you with good experience with specific tools and within a real work environment, while also giving you the chance to work on actual projects you can include in your portfolio.

If you can’t manage to land an internship, keep working on any project: gain some practice replacing sounds of existing games or take part in independent projects. Training your ear and developing a personal technique is essential to succeed in this career.

Soft skills should never be overseen, especially for a position which requires constant teamwork within the sound engineering team as well as with different departments. Being able to understand the producers’ and the editors’ needs and requests and delivering them on time is key to perform well in such a fast paced environment. Patience is a must-have requirement for a job that you may have to keep doing for many hours per session in order to reach the desired result.

It would also be a mistake to underestimate the importance of networking: all of your work has to stand out and get to the right people. It’s advisable to attend meetings, conventions, talk to professionals, friends, colleagues and make sure to make them listen to your work. This way you can get feedback, constantly improve and, if you are lucky enough, even be hired by some industry professional who liked your portfolio.

Any experienced sound designer will tell you the same: starting is hard, takes a lot of hard work and practice and even once you get a good position you often feel stressed by long hours and approaching deadlines, but it’s all worth it when you listen to the finished work sounding exactly like you imagined.

How to be an Animator

animator

While most of an Animator’s job today consists in working with design or 3D software which requires specific technical expertise, producing animation remains mainly a creative job, involving talent, inspiration and creativity.

What is the Job?

Depending on the individual’s field of specialisation (whether it is 3D modelling, stop-motion animation, classic 2D animation etc…) the specific tasks required for the job may vary.

Generally, however, an animator’s job is to bring images to life on screen.

Big production company usually employ animators working normal office hours. However, animators often work as freelance professionals, their hours are therefore variable depending on the project they are working on.

Key Skills

Artistic talent and extensive practice is the main skill required to work in animation. Despite most of the work is done using software and digital tools, the ability to reproduce fantasy or reality is still an essential part of animating a movie or a video.

Knowledge and expertise of specific software is however mandatory. There is no specific software animators should focus on, as the tools being used on the job vary depending on their specialisation (3D modelling, vector design, photography etc…). Some big employers such as Pixar or Dreamworks, additionally, often employ proprietary software.

One of the main abilities that this job requires is to concentrate for long times. Patience is essential to stay focused for the whole working day sitting in front of a screen slowly proceeding towards the final result.

Quite surprisingly, acting is also fundamental, especially for character animation, where the artist has to express emotions and communicate through designs.

How to get to work as an Animator

In order to be hired or obtain recognition as a freelance artist, an Animator’s portfolio is the most important asset. Being able to showcase previous work is the key to progress in the industry.

Working on short projects, either personal or related to an animation course, can be an excellent starting point to begin building a good portfolio.

However, being able to advertise the aforementioned portfolio is just as important as building it. Submitting short animated movies to festivals in order to obtain screenings and show them to the public has proven to be a successful strategy for emerging artists.

Sometimes, even offering to help out animation companies for free as a work experience can lead to an actual paid job if the Animator is talented enough and matches the company’s needs.

Education and training

Being more of a creative sector, an animation degree is not mandatory in order to work in the industry. However, a really good course can offer not just the chance of learning a variety of techniques and choosing a specialisation, but also creates lots of opportunities to start building a portfolio. Additionally, working alongside fellow students who are passionate about animation can encourage the development of different skills and help create connections within the industry.

Some very reputable degrees also offer a good qualification which can make an Animator’s CV significantly more valuable to employers.

Where it can take you

The career path of an Animator is highly variable, for a freelance artist it hugely depends on the success of his/her productions.

For animators working for big employers career progression is typically quite slow, although it usually leads to very high ranked positions like Art Director or Supervisor roles.

BAFTA Games Awards Winners In Focus

BAFTA Games Awards

The winners of the 2016 BAFTA Games Awards were announced in London earlier this month, with prizes in nineteen different categories, honouring the best games of the last 12 months. We take a look at some this years big winners!

Fallout 4 (Winner, Best Game)

Fallout 4, from Bethesda Game Studios, is set in a post-apocalyptic Boston in the year 2287, 210 years after a devastating nuclear war. The player completes various quests and acquires experience points to improve their character’s attributes. With first-person and third-person perspectives available, players can explore Fallout 4’s open world setting at will, allowing non-linear gameplay. The Best Game winner has received positive reviews from critics, notably for the world depth, player freedom, overall amount of content, story, crafting, characters, and soundtrack. Gamespot said, ‘Fallout 4 rewards your curiosity with excellent storytelling and hearty doses of tense combat in a wasteland full of possibilities.’

Read More

Events Round-Up: Spring 2016

AnimationBase-Events-Round-Up

Attention animators! Want to know about the latest events in the industry, but want someone else to do the hard work? Well we’ve obliged, as we look ahead to a few great animation and gaming events, big and small, coming up over the next few months.

The Animation Grill 2016
Taking place in Cardiff on 14th April at KIN+ILK, 1 Capital Quarter Tyndall Street, Cardiff.

The Animation Grill takes place on a monthly basis, and allows animators to meet to review personal animation work and network. It’s a great opportunity for animators looking to get feedback on their work, and meet other animators in a relaxed environment.

It’s free to attend, but you can register here: http://bit.ly/1RqBRhF

Read More

British Animation Awards Return

hdr

Tonight at the BFI Southbank, the British Animation Awards return for their 20th anniversary, to once again bring us the very best of British animation!

The categories this year were slightly modified and entries were accepted for Best Student Film: Undergraduate, Best Student Film: Postgraduate, Best Children’s Series, Best Pre-School Series, Best Film/TV Graphics, Best Use of Sound, Best Commissioned Animation: Promotional, Best Commissioned Animation: Documentary, Best Voice Performance, Best Music Video, Best Animation in a Commercial, Best Short Film and Best Long Form.

The public also has a chance to award their favourites from the Favourite Short Film and Music Video categories with the Public Choice Award.

BAA Director, Jayne Pilling says: “It’s 20 years since the British Animation Awards began and this is the first awards ceremony to take place since the industry reaped the benefit of the changes to the tax-break arrangements.  With the animation industry in rude health, there has never been a better time to celebrate this wonderful, thriving, creative force and we hope to make this the best awards ceremony yet.”

In anticipation of tonight’s ceremony, let’s have a closer look at some of the best animation work this year.

Read More

Situation Vacant

Ruth Fielding

As hopeful graduates flood the recruitment market, Ruth Fielding, of Lupus Films reflects on the new talent entering the animation industry.

It’s the beginning of the summer and those CVs from eager graduates are flooding in daily. We try to respond to everyone giving some sort of constructive advice but it’s frustrating when we either don’t actually have positions to fill, or secondly, 99% of the applicants don’t have what we’re looking for. Most of the CVs are from animators who want to make their break into the world of work. As Lupus Films is not an animation studio, but a production company that outsources the majority of our animation work to animation studios at home and abroad, we rarely have suitable opportunities.

However, what I’ve never received in many years of running a company is a CV and covering letter saying; Dear Sir/Madam, what I’d really like to be is an animation producer. Please will you invest in me and train me up so that I can take your job one day? (No doubt I will get lots of letters like that as soon as this article is published!)

Read More