Every working day this month, as part of our New Year, New Job 2014 special, Develop brings you a game industry professional to explain what their job involves and key advice to help you follow in their footsteps.
Gary Welch, studio animation director at Climax Studios, explains what it takes to join and lead an animation team working on big-budget console games.
What is your job role?
As the animation director I am responsible for the quality of the animation across all games within the studio. As part of the senior creative team here, it is my job to give my advice on the animation requirements and impacts on high-level creative design choices.
I then interpret those decisions to the animation teams on each project.
It’s my job to make sure the style of animation is what the design team are looking for and that the animators on each project have the skills to keep the style and quality consistent.
I also have to develop the schedule and budget requirements for each game and work with the production team to decide on the time and number of animators needed to hit our required deadlines.
What’s more, I also have responsibility of hiring all animators for the studio and then guiding and helping them develop their careers here.
How would someone become an animation director?
Usually an animator would work there way up from a staff role, show a good eye and strong understanding of animation principles.
Then through their own experience in producing good work, start to guide and supervise other less experience animators. After developing these skills on projects they may become a lead animator and start to review the rest of the teams work and be responsible for its quality sign off in production.
Once they have proved themselves in a lead role on several productions they would be able to take the next step up and become an animation director.
What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
Most animation directors have proved themselves as strong animators and are respected among their piers. They would show strong leadership and be confident in their judgment. Be open to suggestions and take on board opinions before making your final decisions. You would need to handle pressure and have the ability to keep calm during heated creative discussions that can happen when working in such a fast-paced artistic environment.
What do you look for when recruiting a new animator?
An understanding of weight, timing and performance in their animations. Also to be passionate about their craft, this is key but also just as important is the ability to take criticism constructively and use this to improve their skills.
What opportunities are there for career progression?
As an animation director, you really have reached the top of your chosen profession.
Why choose to follow a career in your field?
Animation is certainly a challenge, you have to be strong artistically and also be willing to adapt your work to game play requirements such as speed of player input. The game is king not your animation but when is all is said and done and you see your work in game and can say ‘I did that’ there is no greater feeling.
This feature is part of New Year, New Job 2014, Develop’s month-long guide to games recruitment. You can read more at www.develop-online.net/jobs2014.