Tangentlemen Stories

Ricardo didn’t vacate Colombia because the available animation jobs in South America weren’t up to snuff. It was the complete dearth of opportunities that made his cultural uprooting appealing, if not necessary, if he ever hoped to be a major player in the art of motion.

“When I left Colombia, there just weren’t opportunities to do this sort of work. You couldn’t do video games, visual effects-driven films, animation… anything that I wanted to do. As an industry, the US has been the center of production for this type of thing,” Ricardo explains. “There’s a lot of talent and artistic sensibilities, but back when I lived there, they were manifested more through literature and the traditional arts. So in order to be able to do something like I’m doing now, I had to do it here in the US.”

Schooling in film and TV, along with the opportunity to direct commercials, laid the foundation for something bigger down the road. But it wasn’t until Ricardo accepted an internship with Nickelodeon in Orlando — his first big move to the US — that the ball he started rolling in South America picked up significant speed. This internship grew into a fresh animation opportunity just north in Savannah, and this led to a Masters in computer arts, a swath of new computer animation skills, and a professorial role at Full Sail University.

From there, authorship and various animation/motion capture gigs came Ricardo’s way. His first book, The Mocap Book: A Practical Guide to the Art of Motion Capturewas soon followed by a move out west to California for a stint at Sony San Diego Visual Arts Service Group. Here, he helped bring to life characters for blockbusters like Oz the Great and Powerful, Men in Black 3, and The Amazing Spiderman, as well as established game series like God of War, Infamous, and Uncharted.

“Games can be interactive in terms of the pacing, especially if they’re linear, narrative-based projects where the auteur determines the parts of the story you, the player, choose to experience,” Ricardo outlines. “This ever-evolving medium forces animators to think of the player as a part of the process: Pacing, point of view, and composition. Depending where you look, the elements will be arranged in a different way. You have to create more content for games, since you’re not concentrating on a square, but an actual populated world.”

His shift from working on major AAA titles to crafting a more focused independent project like Here They Lie at Tangentlemen has been a creative adjustment. Although Ricardo admits there’s a greater weight on his work due to the size of the team, he’s never shied away from the challenge.

“You have to take on way more than you ever dreamed of,” Ricardo details. “There’s a lot of support in the company, but as long as the responsibility for providing animation is all you… it’s almost like a driver fixing his own car while he’s racing it.

“In a big studio, you might see something that you strongly believe could be done in a better way — whether it can look cleaner or you can just save some time. But it takes a long time for those concerns to get implemented. They have a certain pipeline to integrate new things. Here, you can think of something and if you’re able to implement it, it’s in. As soon as you can make it happen, it happens. That sort of freedom is super rewarding.”

Even though his work both on movie sets and in development studios has mostly taken place somewhere in the US, it’s his years spent in Colombia that most shaped Ricardo’s love for artistic media. Much of it actually started with his attraction to comic books, which led to him establishing the first comic store in his city of Medellin. Supplying comics to his peers was so important to Ricardo that he worked with a company to sell Spanish translations so that anyone who walked into his store could indulge in the near endless colorful panels he housed.

“Games can be interactive in terms of the pacing, especially if they’re linear, narrative-based projects where the auteur determines the parts of the story you, the player, choose to experience,” Ricardo outlines. “This ever-evolving medium forces animators to think of the player as a part of the process: Pacing, point of view, and composition. Depending where you look, the elements will be arranged in a different way. You have to create more content for games, since you’re not concentrating on a square, but an actual populated world.”

And it’s that desire to share what he loves with those around him that still burns strong, whether it be movies, video games, comic books, or the art of motion in general. Ricardo’s passion and culture pervades each of his creative endeavors, and his upbringing is something he hopes to continue to express through his work.

“People are very interested in experiencing other cultures through audio-visual media. I am who I am because of Colombia, as well as the US, and that shows in my work. I cannot be who I am without Colombia, and I cannot be where I am without the US,” Ricardo expresses.

“In the future, I want to share what I learned. There’s no reason to learn so much if I’m not going to share it at some point. I’d also like to make information more available to other cultures. It enriches everyone.”

Check out the rest of the Tangentlemen Stories by clicking the links below:

To learn more about Here They Lie and the Daedalus Project, please visit http://www.heretheylie.com.

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