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.


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.

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.’

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Events Round-Up: Spring 2016


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:

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British Animation Awards Return


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.

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Missing In Action – Why Women Aren’t Animated About Games

Saint John Walker

It’s frequently highlighted that women are leaving the media industries in their droves, and animation and games are shown to particularly lack female talent. So what’s it like for that rarest of species, the female games animator?

Previously I’ve discussed the curious dissonance between the increasingly familiar imagery of the casual female and an industry that remains remorselessly male.

Considering the shift in how we consume games, and the rise in female gamers, why aren’t we seeing young women being attracted into the industry. Seemingly, despite being welcome to play games, they aren’t being welcomed to work on games.

The gender imbalance is a normal fact of working in games. A number of social and economic factors could be at play here. It’s true for instance that other high-tech laden media sectors like Interactive Media also suffer such an imbalance (5%) and that the increasing proportion of coding and programming roles within modern games companies (and proportionately less growth in art roles) doesn’t particularly favour women’s entry into the industry since less women study those subjects at school or college.

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The British Animation Awards (BAA) covers all aspects of the UK animation scene, from student work to commercials, children’s entertainment, short and experimental art films, music videos, new technologies.

Email them: for entry info or visit the BAA website for entry information.

New! The BAA Sting competition. Once again we’ll have some of the top animation talent in the UK and around the world creating our unique prizes. See Awards Gallery for previous ‘baa artists’.

For BAA 2012 running a competition to animate the brief the ‘baa artists’ are given: to create a short sting featuring (one, or more) sheep, with extra points for weaving in references to animation and/or the UK. A selection will be posted online for public voting, and a distinguished jury will judge the best, to be shown on the Awards night to the cream of the British animation industry. BAA Stings Competition

Best Student Film This is being organised differently for BAA 2012: we’re currently considering student films made in 2010 and 2011, and once the short-list has been decided, we will contact colleges/entrants directly. Deadline is September 30th, and if you’re a recent graduate, just to let you know we’ve already viewed work from Anglia Ruskin; Bournemouth; Central St Martins; Edinburgh College of Art; Farnham; Glamorgan; Hertfordshire; Kingston; LCC; Newport; NFTS; Norwich; Ravensbourne; RCA; UCLAN and Wolverhampton.

Skillset Animation & VFX Showcase

The Skillset Animation & VFX Showcase takes place on 14th July at The Vinyl Factory @ Phonica Records, 51 Poland Street, Soho, London W1F 7LZ.

The Animation and VFX Showcase is an event designed to highlight the best talent coming out of the UK’s accredited Animation courses. It combines a recruitment fair of the best from Skillset’s accredited Animation courses and a selection of courses within the Skillset Media Academies. It’s a one stop shop for the industry to see the best of the best – each University displays the work of only their top ten students. We do this as a service for the animation industry: whether recruiting or not, this is a great way to see what top animation schools are up to.

It’s the highlights of around a dozen degree shows brought together under one roof, on the industry’s doorstep. Who’s showing? Names lined up are Bournemouth University, Ravensbourne, National Film and Television School, Teesside, Hertfordshire, Newport, Glamorgan, Swansea Metropolitan, Arts University College Bournemouth, Falmouth, Bradford, and Demontfort University.

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