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Interview with iAnimate Games

Who are iAnimate Games?

iAnimate Games consists of a group of talented artists currently leading the video game industry as Animation Directors and Lead Animators. All our instructors have worked and are still working on award-winning AAA cinematics and video games such as Uncharted, Halo, God of War, Splinter Cell, Dante's Inferno and Dead Space just to name a few. We are passionate about animation, and our goal is to share our experience and give all the tools needed to help the next generation of artist succeed as we did.

What makes iAnimate Games different to other online training schools and sites?

I believe that our philosophy and unique approach towards education helps us stand out. All of our lectures and reviews are live, giving students the chance to ask questions and interact with their instructors at all times. This direct connection with their instructor not only gives a more personal experience to online education, it also prepares the students for the industry where they'll have to interact, on the spot, with their peers and supervisors. Education should not only be about knowledge, but inspiration and motivation as well. This is something no tutorials in the world will ever bring you.

All our sessions are recorded and available for all students; we're talking about hundreds of hours of lectures and critics available at all times. Our instructors are all leaders of this industry, and therefore we teach what is needed and being applied today. Also, if a student is struggling with an assignment, we take the time to do a one-on-one session with them or we will do a supplement class focused on that subject to make sure the student(s) are on the right path to success. We believe it's important to push our students on a weekly basis and help them strive to be the very best.

Why do you feel working in the games industry is a worthwhile pursuit?

Let me say that we are in constant contact with major studios and have a good idea of the industry needs and who is hiring when. The industry is still young and growing really fast. AAA games continue to get bigger and require more artists than ever before. Mobile games, Facebook and other social media platforms, Kickstarter and Indie Games have also appeared in the gaming landscape these past few years and are all in need of specialized animators too.

The gaming industry surpassed the US movie and music industry in 2005 and 2007 respectively (it is actually expected to double those two combined in 2012). The profits generated by this industry are growing a staggering 10% a year, making it the fastest-growing component of the international media sector. And this industry is still young - far from having reached its full potential - and there's so much we have yet to explore. It is the perfect combination of art and technology, and studios are desperately looking for more and more talented artists.

Could you explain why you have chosen to focus your workshops specifically on video games?

With the quality and complexity that animation for video games has reached in recent years, there was an obvious educational need that iAnimate and certain studios felt weren't fulfilled by the online and traditional schools. The development process is so distinct and often overlooked by film students and artists. Studios have a specific need for game designers/animators that are creative and technical. The game iteration process is very different from the traditional pipeline of feature animation. We also deal with real-time applications and engines that let us put in new content, change it or remove it very rapidly. Therefore, gaming animators come with extra/different knowledge and experience that other kind of animators don't necessarily possess or haven't yet acquired. If you want to succeed at


games, it would be wise to study it, have the right tool set and understand how to work with programmers, designers, scripters, riggers, TDs, supervisors and game directors.

Does this not limit the skill set of your students?

Absolutely not, it is actually complementary to all the other workshops iAnimate already offers. Not only will it give invaluable knowledge for anyone aspiring to work in gaming, these workshops can be really beneficial for animators in commercials, films or any other relative field. We heavily focus on body mechanics and different workflows that are often overlooked by feature animators. For instance, rather than following the usual workflow (pose-to-pose blocking, splining and refining) we bring new ways of approaching an action shot. These techniques have been developed over the years by this industry that has different tools, technical needs and deadlines than feature animation. We might use much more layering, blend animations, use motion capture, separate body parts for procedural animation, animate from a 360 degrees perspective, etc. All these skills are typical for game animators but can benefits animators of any other field and media.

What workshops can people enroll on and what can they expect to achieve?

iAnimate offers rigging, feature animation and game animation workshops. Our gaming workshops focus on basic and advanced physical actions, and also deal with multiple characters battling, grappling or vaulting like you would see in action games such as Assassin's Creed, God of War and Uncharted. We break down games and their gameplay, and teach the students how you would create and implement those types of animations into a game engine. Graduate students should consider themselves as more than just typical animators, but as animators with design and game development capabilities. This new breed of animators will become increasingly in demand in the next few years.

Can you describe to our readers what you feel are the strengths of online education over other, more traditional, options?

Personally, I would say that traditional schools cannot compete with the talented staff we have or possess the kind of experience or "know-how" our instructors have to offer. Online schools have no limitations and can have the best instructors from any country and any studio. Unlike many others, iAnimate instructors are true veterans and continue working at top studios on AAA projects. We are focused and connected directly to the industry, giving our students every advantage and opportunity to start their career as animators.

What do your students feel they gain from their experience with iAnimate Games?

We sent a survey just a few weeks ago to all our students, asking them to objectively tell us everything they liked and disliked about their experience, and the feedback was spectacular. Amongst other things, many of them were surprised by how much their animation skills evolved week after week. Our game workshops are pretty aggressive; we're talking one assignment a week and each time our instructors are brutally honest about the students' results and what they need to do exactly to make it better. This feeling of constantly being on the edge made them realize the potential they have. They were also surprised with the different techniques and workflow shown; some of our students even called them "crazy" at time, but they realized that it actually helped them to be much more effective in their work.

We received some very constructive criticism as well and we are making all the adjustments needed to address the issues raised. This is another advantage of not being accredited as a traditional school. We can fix and update our workshops on the spot without all the bureaucratic pain usually involved with those changes.

Students acquire true experience that game studios are looking for and they get the chance to animate in front of those who are decision makers. The thing that is very important to us is to create that personal bond between students and instructors. We make our students work hard, but we want to make sure that everyone is having a great time, because we deeply believe that the journey is as important as the destination!

Can anyone study with iAnimate Games?

Our animation workshops are advanced, so our students require basic knowledge of Maya and character animation. They also need to be able to communicate in English. But other than that, anyone from any country can study with us. As long as you're motivated, driven and willing to put that motivation and love for animation into the program, you will definitely have much to gain. There's no age requirement, yet we do encourage students to be 16 and older.

Do you have any new workshops either currently available or coming soon?

Answering a growing demand, we have announced our new rigging program that begins this September. Daniel Belair, our specialized instructor, will be teaching how to build a rig from scratch and have them integrate this rig into the Unreal engine.

We have also received many requests to run 3ds Max and Motion Builder classes and we are

currently figuring out how we will incorporate these extra workshops to our existing Maya classes. In addition, we have other specialized workshops in development, but it's a little too early to publicly announce them.

Are there any partnerships you have that benefit the students?

We have studios that we are working with here on the west coast of the US and in Canada. Their influence could have a major factor on where our students might end up or receive their first job offer from. Those relationships will most likely influence our programs to better adapt to their needs. I would also like to add that even if some headhunters have offered their services, we have decided to work directly with the studios due to the needs of the partnerships we are building.

What are iAnimate Games's future plans for both the company and its students?

All our efforts and everything we do are for the benefit of our students. We are the bridge between talented artists and the industry, so we are listening to both of them to adapt our existing workshops and create new ones to cover specific needs. We have also established privileged relations with many great artists including the very talented Cédric Séaut. One of his creations, Brick, is the latest additions to the iAnimate character family and our students can expect many more top quality characters and rigs to work with in the near future.

Our team has been brainstorming on our very own IP, which students will have the chance to participate in. We have also been approached to help in the production of other games. These are all at a very early stage, but we are very inspired by the opportunities they could bring our students. In addition, we have a great lineup of guest speakers for special lecture sessions exclusive to iAnimate Games students. That's something we have been working on for a while and we'll start to announce those special events during the next semester.

As you can see, we are not resting on the success of our first workshop, and there are many great announcements and surprises coming up for our students and followers so stay tuned!

Finally, why should people choose to study at iAnimate?

We've got some fantastic connections with major studios, amazing instructors, a dynamic community

of artists that inspire each other and a very dedicated team that wants to see all our students thrive and succeed. Our gaming workshops have been created for anyone who wants to bring their animation knowledge and quality to the next level, strengthen their body mechanics skills, learn new workflows and techniques that might not be taught by other online schools or simply get a chance to demonstrate their talents to those who are in leadership positions.

We'll give you all the tools needed to succeed, put you in contact with studios looking for capable animators and do everything we can to make that journey enjoyable. What else can you ask for?

For more information please visit our website: ianimate.net/iAnimate-games

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