for Greg’s modules Design Presentation & Reporting, he’s asked us to talk and interview industry professionals in order for us to make connections and help us develop a clearer and more informed pathway for ourselves into the work place after we graduate
because I want to work as an asset artist the first person I decided to contact was James Brady, a successful artist who gave a talk at the Ulster University last year, he worked for creative assembly for a few years and has recently went on to work in Scotland for the triple A game developers Rockstar north, who are responsible for the development of famous game titles such as the “Grand Theft Auto” series, the “Red dead redemption” series, the “max payne” series, “bully”, and “L.A.noire”.
James Brady’s assets are of a very high quality, I’m quite envious of his skill
all of these images can be founds on his Facebook page = James Brady
I contacted James through Facebook asking him for a few minutes of his time for a quick interview, which he very kindly agreed to take time out of his busy do so.
Interview with James Brady
ME: Hello James, Sorry to bother you, I’m a final year student from Ulster University, you talked to us for a bit last year, would it be possible if I could talk to you for about 5 minutes?
James Brady: Hey man! yeah sure thing shoot I’m in the studio so it might be this evening when I reply, but sure feel free to ask, anything you need I’ll help with!
ME: awesome! thank you very much, I really appreciate it 😊
ME: part of one of our module this year is to try to prepare a plan for after university, trying figure out what our next steps should be. I remember that you are an asset modeller and that is what I’m aiming for. could you tell me what path you took to get to where you are now
ME: so, what did you do after uni? did you go to uni? what was your first job? etc
James Brady: Ok I promise IL give you a lengthy response later 🙂
James Brady: Hey dude, sorry for the late reply, got swamped last night with stuff!. Ok so I never went to university, I am pretty much self-taught, My first job well in the industry was the QA role at Creative Assembly but now an artist at Rockstar Games, regarding outside of that, my first job was at Concentrix in Belfast as a call agent lol not fun!. So if I am totally honest the best advice I can offer you is, you won’t know or be able to figure out what it is you really want to do during your years at university due to a number of modules etc you need to do. I’d focus on getting your degree out of the way (If you feel you need it) and then start to hone in on a specific area if you have any kind of idea of what that may be then its best to even start having a shot at it now. Don’t get caught up in the ‘I’ve a degree now so why don’t I have the job’, companies don’t really care about formal education and they most certainly dont care about your assignment work, you have to really push yourself outside of university hours and show initiative and self-drive because the work you do in your own time and the skills you can show off go a hell of a longer way than any education ever will. If your wanting to get into the games industry, id recommend starting now even if your doing an animation degree, you guys use mudbox/maya but I would whole heartedly recommend you start checking out Zbrush instead or 3ds max if you can, industry uses both max and maya but more companies like Rockstar etc only use max’. I would start learning PBR theory and how to texture and setup PBR shaders ‘no point showing a portfolio texturing the old way, it’s zero points in your folio!’ and most importantly i would either start a group project if you can trust several peers or look online at MODDB for example and join a mod group. That for sure counts as experience!. If the games industry is the way for you I would also hon your craft and really get stuck into a specific area, let it be characters, environment, props, weapons. No studio wants to see a portfolio of all because 9/10 its always, always pretty shitty.. I would learn how to make a nice highpoly, how to do nice topology, effectively unwrap that topology and then after you bake your normal and AO maps, learning to texture clean with PBR. Get to grips with either Quixel suite or Substance painter. Dont be worrying too much on industry workflow as every studio is different and use different tools. Showing your good enough as an artist and you have a good enough understanding of what your role entails is enough. Is there is a specific studio that you want to break into, joining as a games tester is never a bad idea, it gets you experience and you get to learn about their tools/workflow and most importantly make contact’s with their artists. When applying for your first job, make as much contacts as you can, a good portfolio is all well and good but if your not in touch with the right people then you don’t have a shot, joined LinkedIn, add all of the talent specialists or recruiters within the studios you want to join and email them 1 by 1 about the role you want to break into. I’ve managed to land myself an interview with Ubisoft in doing this. Most importantly have fun 🙂 just try not to get caught up in the whole uni side of things, if anything, in reality, it will only help with visa’s for overseas but even enough experience can be more efficient for that. This is all I got dude 🙂 Best of luck!
James Brady: Oh and be willing to sacrifice everything if you want this and make it your number 1 priority over everything if it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life, at least until you get your foot in the door 😉
ME: Heya James thanks for this reply, this really helpful, a lot of useful information, honestly I’ve been really thinking a lot about whether I really want to be doing this, honestly I am really trying and it this is really stressful, hence why I’ve been thinking about it so much. I really can’t see myself as anything else, drawing and modeling have become my favorite pass time, and most nights I stay in university until 12:00pm, other nights I stay until 10:00pm, so I guess I really do want this
James Brady: well time will tell 🙂 best of luck with it all!
ME: You too, hope everything is going well for you in Rockstar over in Scotland
ME: Oh, one more question, there are a lot of conflicting information on how much artists get paid, I know artists aren’t rich people but always figured that they get an okay amount of money (the ones that have there foot in the door anyway), so roughly how much do people get pet paid in this industry? 10,000 per year? 15’000 per year?
ME: It’s okay if you don’t want to answer that
James Brady: Ok so I won’t go into my personal earnings lol but il give you a pretty good breakdown, lets say you decided to be a game tester to start out, you would be expecting 15,000 a year but company won’t offer relocation as they don’t see you as a necessary need and QA are replaceable in their eyes.. Depending on the studio, if you land a job as an environment artist you would be expecting anything between 18 – 20K a year + most likely a relocation package of 500-600 pounds. When a studio hires an artist, they don’t have a set wage/relocation costs etc. its usually down to the discretion of the company and the person they are hiring to come to an agreement on wage etc. Companies often review salary either every 6 months or a year so your wage will go up depending on how hard you work/how much overtime you put in *be aware you will never ever get paid for overtime hours* and this also effects your bonus if the game does well when released!. Thats pretty much the reality of it lol
ME: Okay thanks for answering that, honestly, I’m not looking for a lot of money, I was just looking for a solid answer and you gave me just that, Yeah, I wasn’t looking to know your earnings ^^;
Alright, I’m probably keeping you back, I wish you all the best, it was great talking to you You’ve been a really big help, good luck with everything thing
James Brady: Good luck man
Because James specialises in the same area of work that I want to specialise in, for me, his advice hold a lot of weight to it, I have been wanting to learn Zbrush for a while so I’m definitely going to do that, I managed to get a hold of Zbrush and used it during my major project (link to evidence)
I’ve also looked in to Physical based rendering and although I didn’t get a chance to use it during the major project like I did with Zbrush, I think I still know enough about it to be able to use it, though putting what one learns into practice can be tricky, just because I know how PBR works and what the work flow behind it is doesn’t necessarily mean it will work exactly as planned, I need to do some testing, to ensure that I can use it
The fact that James is self- taught gives me a bit of hope, but also a bit of a wakeup call, he’s really explaining that as an artist you really must be self-driven and focus on what you want to do every day, this is something I’ve really come to learn from my time at university, having been introduced to so many talented artist, artist that are maybe 5 year younger than I am and yet have much more talent I can’t help but feel as though I’ve wasted much of my life, I feel like I should have been working towards my goals everyday but I foolishly believed that an education in art would give me tools and experience that I would need to progress and prosper within my art career, that why we go to school isn’t it?
I’m going to look into creative assembly, do a bit of research, perhaps they may have some job opening and I can see what a QA role requires
I think James has a point about not being able to figure out what it is I really want to do during university due to the number of modules, because there is a lot of work that I need to be doing for my university modules, I’m spending all of my time in university trying to focus on work and get everything done, yet despite this I find it hard to keep focused and usually feel as though I’m not doing enough.
because of how many hours I’m having to spend university it’s very hard for me to push outside of those hours, I could spend less time focusing on university but then I won’t pass and I even though it seems as though I do not need a degree, I’d rather have one than not have one, especially considering all the dept I’m in now considering it.
James suggested starting a group project or looking online at MODDB and joining a mod group. because I’m repeating this year, I don’t really know anyone well enough to start a group project with, however, looking online at MODDB and joining a mod group is something I could try to do, I’ve looked at the Skyrim mod community and I’ve wondered about making some of my own mod for the game.
I’m aware of this that I need to focus on a specific area thanks to past research, I think I really want to focus on asset creation, specifically weapon’s and armour, but I would really need to work on focusing in and making a portfolio tailored to that specific area
I’m trying to learn how to make a nice highpoly, good topology is important to me and is something that I’ve been working on over the years in university, I know how to unwrap an object but I feel like I need to be more effective at it, not quite sure what he means by texture clean but I’ve researched into PBR
I’ve downloaded Substance painter but I haven’t got a chance to use it
there isn’t much I can with this information besides continue trying to improve become a better artist
making connection…this! this is the most worrying thing about this line of work for me, as person with asperger’s syndrome, connecting and socializing with people is something that is difficult for me
I already have a linkedin account but, I’ve gone back and fixed it up, improving on it by adding more information about me and also adding, connecting, and fallowing more people, companies, groups, and organizations via linkedin
I think I’ve lost either lost sight of or haven’t ever really understood what other artist mean by “have fun”, fun for me mean video games, watching a movie or something animated, however, over the years, during time off, during the time of waiting for my repeat, while there hasn’t been any stress of deadlines I’ve found myself practicing my art and enjoying myself while doing so. I think really what other artist mean by “have fun” is fine out what you specifically enjoy doing when you are making art and focus on that, if you having to do something that isn’t something you enjoy, then try to make it more enjoyable for yourself.
Interview with Mario Furmanczyk.
A fellow class mate Tyrone kindly set up a Skype call to Disney animator Mario Furmanczyk. He spoke about how he went through a lot of different jobs and rolls, originally starting off as a web designer, eventually deciding he wanted to be a character animator. Once he landed on that idea he applied to CalArts in order to get the training and qualifications for his desired job. He strongly recommended looking for a mentor who was right for you and could help you find experience with professional production, for Mario, his mentor was Burt clyne. One of the best ways Mario spoke of for finding a like-minded mentor was to show your passion and learn about things in an obvious way in order to share your passion with others. he also recommended we should also be trying things outside of their passion and comfort zones in order to build your skill base.
Mario discussed how discovering one’s own animation flow is an ongoing process. Always trying to improve quality and efficiency is something all artists should keep in minds especially animators who must work to strict scheduling and deadlines. Meeting and working closely with directors and supervisors will help you as an animator to better communicate their vision into the final work. In the end, good animation is all about capturing the audience.
As an animator going through a creative process Mario spoke to us about how he uses thumbnails to figure out his key poses and acting choices for characters. His main advice on this was get to know you posing and acting process so well that it becomes second nature. He explained that the poses and silhouettes should be as clean as possible in the thumbnails and that you should rough out every aspect of the animation first, you should never go in to the specifics. Every acting choice has to mean something when it comes to good character animations. Constantly revising your work and having it reviewed by others is also important to the process and will help an animation improve. However, it is best not to spend too much time on the skeletal structure of the shot and move onto the bulk poses and animation as soon as you can.
good idea is to know how to sort of how to do everything else in the pipeline
He explained that there’s lots riding on the animator, they have to be the idea person, that mean always being able to think through a shot and see what makes it work, they’re given the sound/recorded lines and they have to think of loads of different ways to animate those recordings continuously thinking up new ideas to improve the animation with interesting ideas. The timing and posing of your animations can be altered and played with infinitely and will give the animation a feeling of believability.
Everything in your animation should be clearly referenced and the acting should be so clear that even with dialogue taken out the scene will still make sense. You should check-in often, it will save you time and prevent you from spending too much time on something people didn’t want. as an animator, you should find a way to make a shot interesting in its nuances. Complicated shots with a lot of action will always take longer, one of the longest shots that Mario animated took 2 months, the shot was very difficult, it involved 2 main character holding hands while singing and dancing with multiple other characters, however Mario explains that shots like this can still be finished within a reasonable amount of time with a good process that work for you.
When I talked to Mario I asked him about managing stress working towards deadlines.
he explained that something that really helps him keep on top of things is work flow, looking at a shot, looking at how it much time is available and how your work flow plugs into that really helps
there are some really difficult scenes to animate, where then it’s more about managing stress because stress cuts you off from creativity, best way to deal with that is to sit down clear everything from your schedule and just hammer it, try to really focus on it, even limiting your bathroom breaks.
Interview with Sandra Ní Chonaola
– My first paid job in animation was with Banjax (now Strandlooper) on a show called Lifeboat Luke. I was doing an internship with One Productions before that, and if I remember correctly I was only getting my expenses paid (50 bucks a week). After the internship they kept me on – on the same wage! But for me, at the time, it was just important to get experience. While I was there, I applied to Banjax, and got a reply from Mike asking if I knew Flash… I did, and so we set up an interview. He later emailed me, to give me a heads up that they where changing software and that now the production would be done in After Effects, also to say that he was off the interviewing/hiring team, but liked me and wanted to help me however he could. He said that I should learn After Effects, if I didn’t know it already as they might ask me to do a test. This was a couple of days before the interview, I’d never used AE before, but I ran out to a book store after work one evening, got a book on AE and started to study it. I went up for my interview, and while I was there… as Mike has said, they asked me to do a test. It turned out that I had studied all the wrong things in AE and had no clue how to actually animate in the program. The book didn’t tell me what I needed to know. But somehow, I managed to pass it and got the job. I think they were just desperate. They needed someone and I was willing to move to Belfast.
Business Cards =