What It Takes

What does it take to be an Animator on our team?

Mehdi - Whether you’re a 10 year veteran or fresh out of school, if you show talent and the love of breathing life into characters through animation…if that’s you, and you’d like to help us make the best God of War yet, we’d love to have you on our team. Passionate artists will understand the vision and will want to contribute original ideas of their own, and have FUN doing it! Coming up with new moves for a boss or creature or a satisfying way for Kratos to push through a door… every animation should showcase that inability to be satisfied with "good enough". That is what we strive for in making God of War.

Bruno - Having passion for animation as a medium - games, movies, short films, or anything that drives your inspiration to bring characters to life and tell a story in your work. Our team is very open to ideas and constant collaboration amongst one another. We work extremely close with Design and understand the balance between gameplay and animation, because our medium is a game and we want people to interact and have fun with it. In movies you enjoy the movement, but in games, the movement of the characters feels natural and is responsive to you. That is a BIG thing. We really value someone who understands how gameplay and animation coalesce together, and how a designer and animator can work together best.

What is our philosophy on animation?

Bruno - For our new God of War, we’re creating many specialized techniques by employing motion capture a lot more for all of our animations. This is allowing us to be far more expressive and natural in our character work. Our team is comprised of animators from many different walks of life - feature films, straight out of school, other game companies.

We are all under the philosophy that having the eye and understanding of what makes great animation, combined with strong key frame skills, is ideal for someone to take our motion capture and really elevate it for God of War. Great animators take that motion data and make it sing. We don’t want people to just clean up files. We want people to enhance that motion data and take it beyond.

Whether you’re a 10 year veteran or fresh out of school, if you show talent and the love of breathing life into characters through animation…if that’s you, and you’d like to help us make the best God of War yet, we’d love to have you on our team. 

Mehdi – I agree with Bruno. Even in a heavy motion capture pipeline, we insist on strong key-frame skills. Knowing how to animate traditionally is paramount to taking a motion capture performance and pushing it to the level required to sell the surreal world of Gods and Monsters that is God of War. Motion capture helps us bring more realism to the performances. Key-frame animators make it other-worldly. It’s a balancing act.

What type of advance technical skills are we seeking?

Mehdi - Being familiar with a game pipeline. There are so many requirements with games;, cleanliness, staying within certain frame ranges, etc. It’s important that you understand the concepts of game making to be able to work within its constraints.

Bruno - Having experience with motion capture data - cleaning it, manipulating it, enhancing it, key frame skills. This is very important because,even though our project requires motion capture a lot, there are many creative ideas we employ that are not possible with mo-cap. For example, we need key frame skills for creatures. Now that we’ve shown at E3 what we’re working on, we have to maintain that high, epic pedigree at our studio.

It’s also beneficial to have worked on a game engine before. Though it’s not a prerequisite, understanding how things are structured, the process of breaking down assets, getting your animation in the engine, sending and baking it out to Designers, is extremely helpful to this position.

In film production, you have a lot of people who setup the entire scene and then hand it off to the animator to execute the animation. In games, the whole construction of a scene, the assembly, is often done by an animator. If it breaks, the animator has to go debug it, talk to the Programmer, dig into the rigging, and resolve the code. Having said all that, our primary goal is to animate as much as possible. Sometimes the nature of game development requires us all to wear multiple hats. You probably know that.

What type of person are we looking for in the culture of the studio/animation group

Mehdi – Someone very open to collaborating, accepting other people’s ideas and offering theirs to make this an incredible project. Someone not afraid to work hard (within reason). People with talent and skill have no problem being generous with their ideas, their experience and sharing that with others. Ultimately we look for a newcomer to help us not only grow as a team, but also as individual artists.

Bruno - A strong animation demo reel. We are not looking for replication of our own work. You don’t have to be as exact with combo moves. If they are a good animator, they will adjust into all situations. One of our great former animators, Leo Larinov, animated a guy sitting by a tree and a butterfly simply entered the frame and interacted around him. It was a beautiful storytelling moment, and one that easily convinced us at the time. I’ll never forget his reel.

Mehdi - Animating on your own time shows an incredible passion, it’s how many people are getting in, that’s very valuable to us, and it’s just fun. With our interview animation test, we really approach it as an audience hoping to be entertained. Then during a 2nd viewing, we put our recruiter hats on and scrutinize a bit more. This sample personal story reel below is one of our all-time favorites from former Santa Monica Studio Animator, Michael Biancalana (hey Mike!).

We encourage animators to own their tasks, and want them to express themselves within the rules of the God of War universe and its esthetic. Animators own a character start to finish. They collaborate with a designer to bring it to life looking its best. This is why we need creative and motivated artists, not someone who wants to be told what to do and go home.

Bruno - Your reel, your response to our animation test...these are all windows into how the animator thinks, how they approach it, their creativity, how they are going to bring it to the table when working on God of War.

Bruno and Mehdi with an old pal

How does our new God of War relate to the type of animator we’re looking for?

Mehdi - We are not looking specifically for God of War style animators, just a good animator with ideas willing to adopt our style and help us evolve it. Part of our franchise being so successful is that it keeps growing and remains fresh without losing its way. We don’t want to just churn out another God of War like the old ones. This project especially, proves it.

Bruno - We are reinterpreting Norse mythology with our own spin. Why wouldn’t we want an animator to come in with their original spin on it? We have a lot of veterans on our animation team. We’ve created a pretty nice haven for animators here at Santa Monica Studio, and we really have a lot of history together. We’d love to make you part of it.

topics: Internal
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