A day in the life of a Lead Artist/Animator

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A day in the life of a Lead Artist/Animator

Lead Artist

We’re currently hiring artists and animators including a Lead Artist to join our games development team. Employees at Fuzzy Logic get to work on some really cool augmented reality development projects so to give you some insight into what we do. Our Lead Artist/Animator is going to share some insights into what a typical day behind a desk at Fuzzy Logic looks like… and we think you’ll be surprised to know that we don’t just sit around playing games all day 😉

Please note, as we’re currently working on a super-secret AR development project, the images used in the post are not taken from our current project but from previously released projects.

Dylan – Lead Artist/Animator

Hi, I’m Dylan and I have the interesting and fun role of being the Lead Artist/Animator for Fuzzy Logic.

Let me first tell you a bit about my background and my role and responsibilities. This will help set the scene and explain how I came to work in, what we modestly believe in Fuzzy Logic is, the best, most awesome industry.

My Background

I studied Graphic Design at TWR and from there I studied 3D animation at Autodesk. My roles before Fuzzy Logic were as animator/designer artist at a range of different companies with my last role being a 3D Animator at a well known ad agency, where I was often Lead on various tv commercials.

I joined Fuzzy Logic in 2012, having decided that not only did I want a better life for my family (who doesn’t want their kids to grow up by the beach?!), but I also wanted to be part of the fascinating and extremely fun industry that Fuzzy Logic is helping to grow in South Africa. I was tired of the TV industry and wanted to try something new and expand on my knowledge and current skills. You’d think that to work in this type of industry, you would need to be in America, the UK or Europe. So to be able to be part of a games and AR team in South Africa is absolutely amazing! I have had the privilege to work on some cutting edge games and apps as well as Fuzzy Logic’s chart topping mobile game, Soccer Moves, which achieved over 2.5 millions downloads and reached #1 in 53 countries!

Role and Responsibilities

As the AR Lead Artist/Animator, not only do I have my own animation and technical artist tasks within the project, but I also oversee the concept art all the way through to the modeling and animation. It is my responsibility to ensure that everyone has the information they need to complete their tasks, whether that’s briefs and subsequent feedback from clients, instructions from management or research information. This means that I have to be able to convey what the client wants to the team and help break up the project goals into smaller tasks for everyone. I oversee all work as it progresses in order to make sure that we are all on the right track as well as feedback to management on current work.

It’s a varied role which I enjoy, but we are now hiring a Lead Artist to work alongside me as we are working on our major, super-secret AR project that requires another head and shoulders to carry the load. And no, I’m not telling you what the super-secret project is!

So, let’s get on with my typical day.

Daily Meeting

At 9am every morning, the whole team huddles to give each other updates on what we were working on yesterday and what we’re going to concentrate on today. This is a great forum to make sure that everyone is aware of what each person is currently working on and how it may impact their own tasks. The team prides itself on collaboration and I think it’s something we excel at. Jason, our MD, and Etienne, our Lead Programmer, oversee the projects and deal with the clients on a daily basis so need to be informed and up-to-date with current work at all times. They also then feedback to us anything that the clients have shared with them that is relevant to what we’re doing. A couple of members of the team work remotely, so we they use Skype to join the meeting.

Today, I filled the team in on what the art team were working on yesterday – generic body suits for our characters – I feel a bit like a fashion designer! We all took on a different role within this part of the project. I have been problem solving with one of our modellers, Grant – he’s been working on different character suits, and we’re trying to find a shape that could be adapted to all of them.

I let the team know that today, I’m working on the rigging system and will be working closely with the programmers to test some of the research that I’ve been carrying out. I’ve also got a new character to animate so need to get onto that later this afternoon.

 

RiggingProcess

Note, this image is not from our current project

Task Breakdown

Today is Monday, so after the meeting, as happens most Mondays, Jason and Etienne, sit down with all the individual teams to go through the team and individual tasks.

Jason asks me to carry on with the rigging system that I’ve been working on the last few days. Basically, we are trying to automate the system to make it much more simple for the animators to use. We are currently dealing with a lot of characters and so to individually rig each one is extremely time consuming and complex. We will hopefully be able to apply the new automated system into the workflow throughout the whole project, giving the animators full control and lot more fun when animating our characters. I truly believe that this ‘fun’ will show in the quality and lifelikeness of the end characters.

To achieve the rigging system, I’m carrying out technical research and investigating technology and methods that we can use within the system. We’ll either use what is available in the software or if we can’t then we’ll write our own. Whichever solution we choose, we have to be able to use the software in all our 3D packages as well as Unity….and also be stable on mobile platforms…not an easy task!

Once I’ve completed the research and am happy that I have found the answers, I will brief our programmers so that they can apply that information and create the system for us, ensuring that it works across all our tools. I particularly enjoy this part of the role, because it means I get to break away from my regular routine of animation and overseeing the rest of the team. This type of research also helps me to constantly learn and keep-up-to date with new methods and technology that I can apply in my every day role.

Oversight

After spending a couple of hours on the rigging system, Grant requests some help on an issue he has come across. It’s important that the models are as close to the concept art as possible as this is what the client has agreed to. Grant has found that the box that is required on one of the character suits is just too big and will cause skinning issues later in the process. We discuss the problem, try a couple of solutions and decide that we can scale the box, remove some detail, while still preserving the integrity of the original concept.

Next, I take some time out with one of our concept artists, Pappy Yesterday I provided him some images of underwater transportation that give him an idea of the shapes, colour and style, that the client wants and he then spent the day mocking up different variations. We review the concept art, and discuss maybe breaking away from the norm and create a more fish like vehicle. We agree that he has enough time to finish the changes by this afternoon. Jason and Ettiene have a meeting at 4pm with our American client to feedback on the super-secret project so far, including the concept art, so we need to make sure it’s up to scratch!

 

Concept Art

Note, this image is not from our current project

Time for a bite to eat

And finally, it’s time for lunch. My wife and I tend to eat lunch together. We don’t have to get in our car to grab a bite to eat, we are in the centre of a number of eateries with options from sandwiches and soup to full meals as well as some freshly made sushi, all within walking distance of the office. If I bring lunch from home, this gives me the chance to bang some buttons on the Fuzzy Logic arcade machine…I know, cool right?!…..shhhh, don’t tell my wife! It’s all in the name of research, honestly….We have over 400 games on the machine and have a league going for some of the more popular games. I won’t mention how I rank :-(….but even so, how cool is it that we’re actually encouraged to play video games in the office?! As long as our work is done on time and up to scratch obviously.

I sometimes find that when I’ve had a problem nagging away in my mind for hours, taking a quick 5 minute time-out playing a game can really help clear my head and more often than not, the answer pops into my head within seconds.

Slack

After lunch I ask the art team to upload their current work onto Slack so that Jason and ET can see where we’re at – we have a few hours before the meeting so I want some feedback from them to ensure that everything is how it should be.

Slack has been a brilliant tool for us. As collaboration is so key to the team, Slack has proven instrumental in helping everyone stay abreast of what is going on. Our client in America also has access and so this speeds up direct feedback from them too.

Feedback

I have a quick half hour meeting with Jason and Etienne around some of the work that we uploaded onto Slack. They both provide fresh sets of eyes on something that we’ve had tunnel vision on for a few days, so their input is really valuable. It’s great to bounce ideas of someone that is not in the team listening to the discussions and decisions that we’ve made, but has a deep understanding and insight into the project as well as what the client wants. It’s a really productive meeting.

I feedback to the art team and then it’s back to my creative tasks – animating the new character.

Completion of tasks

It’s 3.30pm so I do a check to make sure that everyone has finished their tasks and uploaded everything onto Slack in good time for the meeting. Hoodie has done a great job with the character suits and Pappy’s concept art is very cool, exactly what we were looking for. I check in with Jason and Etienne to let them know that everything is ready and waiting for them.

 

ModelAndTexturing

Note, this image is not from our current project

Client Meeting

I don’t always attend the client meetings, it depends on what’s being discussed, but today I’ve been asked to attend because we’ll be discussing the animations from last week. We also need to chat about possible short cuts for flowing hair and I need to update them on the rigging system research. As our clients are in America, we once again use trusty old Skype.

We often use Skype for our client meetings – in fact, we have clients all over the world and we’ve probably met less than a quarter of them to date – face-to-face meetings just aren’t necessary when we have Skype at our fingertips.

And relax…..

The day is done and it’s time to go home. My wife and I meet at the car and go to pick the little ones up from their nursery school. The ‘rush hour’ traffic here is nothing like Johannesburg or Cape Town, which means less stress in our lives! The kids absolutely love their school and this gives my wife and me such peace of mind to know that while we’re both working full time, our children are being well looked after. We head to the bowling alley for a couple of games and some pizza. In the summer, it gets dark much later than Johannesburg, so we can usually get an hour on the beach in before it’s time to head home for dinner….living the life! :-)

Fuzzy Logic

I’m not just being paid to say this – I really think the team at Fuzzy Logic are top notch. We have a great, funky work environment to work in complete with the aforementioned arcade machine as well as an Xbox, and while it’s quite a quiet office as everyone knuckles down and gets on with their work, the camaraderie is great. As I mentioned before, collaboration is key to what we do, and you’ll always find someone perching next to someone else’s desk discussing an issue or problem…. or sometimes just to show them a hilarious Youtube video that they’ve just shared with everyone! Fridays are gaming day, or braai day if it’s month end and the weather permits, so as long as we’ve all completed our tasks for the week, to the required quality of course, we finish up a bit early, crack open some drinks, order some pizzas and play Streetfighter on the PS3…old school, I know! A fantastic way to end the week.

If you’re interested in working for Fuzzy Logic, take a look at our jobs page and get in touch!

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