Recently our students got a great guest lecture in Game animation. We welcomed Johan that works as a technical animator and Joakim that works as a 3D animator at Starbreeze studios. The lecture was very informative and we were shown different ways of animating and different programs that can be used. After the lecture they also answered our students’ questions.
After the lecture I got the chance to ask them a few more questions and they went as follows.
Why is it important for students to see different kinds of animators work at lectures?
Johan: A general piece of advice I got a long time ago is to listen to a lot of different teachers because they will explain things in different ways. Even if its a topic you know about its highly likely that you pick up on new details.
Joakim: It enhances their knowledge about different roles in the company and can help them find the role that suits them the best.
How did you choose your focus?
Johan: I became a Technical Animator because after getting an education as a game artist but didn’t get a job, later I got an offer to further educate myself to a Tech Artist since it is very good for someone at that position to know both the graphic and the technical and since I already knew how to work as a game artist and what can go wrong when you create a game it was a very good base for Tech Art. Then I chose to focus on animation since I already had a knack for it and a general interest. I have continued as a Tech Animator because it is a fun and varied role where you need knowledge and move between different areas. Sometimes you work with characters, other times with animation or write code for new tools for the artists.
Joakim: I liked to draw, and was interested in animation from my studies in film science which made me choose that direction. My focus was Motion Capture which is commonly used now.
What is your best advice for students on their way in to work?
Johan: Don’t give up! As I said I didn’t get a job directly after my first education and that stings but making games is the only job I ever wanted so I put my mind to it happening in some way and finally it did, but it took a lot of hard work on the road to getting there.
If you want to focus on Tech Art specifically I would say a broad knowledge in game development and knowledge in scripting is a must. Every Tech Artist worth anything needs to know scripting, but luckily there are a lot of sources to learn from online and programs like Maya and Blender gives you the code being run from their Scripting window.
You don’t need to be the best at anything but if you understand what happens when you model, animate or program you have a solid foundation to start from.
So, keep working in whatever program you are using now and try to understand what the tools do, think about how you work and if there is any way to make it more effective.
Joakim: Make sure you get an internship, thats where you learn the most and get a foot in the door. A part from that it is important to like what you do and to constantly challenge yourself to learn new things in your field.