Animation Engineering to Art Directing…. What?

Jennifer's AvatarAfter my previous introduction you may have noticed something. You probably sat back for a moment and then said to yourself, “But you can’t pay your bills with curiousity!” And you were right, of course. If all I ever did was dream about the questions of the world and their elusive answers, then I would be a lot skinnier than I am. Maybe I would wear a robe, a jedi robe, even. But I don’t. So what do I do?

My professional expertise lies in the intersection of physics and body mechanics, psychology and posture and facial expression, computers and graph editors. In other words, I am an animator.

I have a particularly strong curiousity about and love for the way things move. What structures are hiding beneath our skin and behind our eyes, and what do they mean for the way we move and express ourselves? For the eternally curious like me, these questions are a treasure trove. No matter how deep you dig you will find there is more waiting to be learned.

On top of this, my inclination for the technical has lead me to the strange lovechild of art and engineering that is “rigging,” which is the preparation of 3D characters so that they can be moved around by animators.  If you think of 3D characters as puppets, then I act as the master string-attacher.  Because while you would think things like “I want the hand to go here” or “lift the foot onto its toes” should be straight forward, in computers things are only simple if someone else went before you and engineered them to be understandable. That’s my day job.

So how on earth did I find myself as art director for an indie studio?  It’s not the most logical of leaps. My core skill-set isn’t particularly required in the production of most indie games; they’re just too small to need the detailed work that goes into bigger budget projects. Also, the programming languages I’m fluent in seem to live in different circles than indie projects like Swift.

But knowledge is cumulative. The more you learn the more you become capable of learning. I have sampled so many disciplines on my journey to picking a career, that I just so happened to cover a lot of what Phanatix needed when it needed it. I’m somewhat passable in the painting department and can string sentences together into something coherent.  I can navigate a mess of PHP and HTML and CSS to tame a wild website.  I understand how to put together some frames to give the illusion of movement.  But more importantly I’m adaptable and know how to identify and solve problems.  That’s what an indie studio needs above all else.

And yet, no matter what skills I learn as I move through life, none of it would be possible without curiousity.

Live. Play. Love.

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