Animators from Naughty Dog, Ubisoft, Blizzard, Epic and More Will Share their Secrets Next Month

on January 17, 2017 6:03 PM

Animation is one of the most important elements of game development. It’s pretty much what gives characters life and believably, and can easily mark the difference between crossing the uncanny valley or falling face-first into it.

If you’re interested about how it’s done, a veritable army of animators of all ranks will assemble on February 28th for Animation Exchange, an event that will be accessible to everyone thanks to a livestream on the official Twitch channel on February 28th.

They’ll go behind the scenes of the animation of games lile Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Heroes of the Storm, Paragon, League of Legends and more.

Below you can read the full schedule, and boy, it’s a rich one.

Live Q&A
We start the day with a panel of animators taking questions live from the Twitch chat. If you have a question about game animation, these are the people and this is the time to ask.
Speakers:
Tim Borrelli Animation Director at First Strike Games
Gwen Frey Co-Founder of The Molasses Flood
Mariel Cartwright Art Director, Lead Animator and Head of Story at Lab Zero Games
Matt Boehm Animator at Blizzard


What Schools Aren’t Teaching You
Schools are great for teaching the fundamentals of animation theory and workflow, but what about the stuff they DON’T teach?

Working in the industry takes much more than just animation chops. Get some insider info from two unique perspectives on the skills you can only pick up from spending time in the highly-competitive and fast-paced world of game development.
Speakers:
Lana Bachynski Animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Simon Unger Senior Animator at Phoenix Labs


Grim and Whimsy – Animating World to the West
This talk covers our effort to animate characters and creatures with contrasting moods and emotions, working within the tight constraints of a top down action game.
Speaker:
Aslak Helgesen Animator at Rain Games


Animation Flashback: Spider-Man 2
Spider-man 2 The Movie Game was the first in the franchise to emphasis the web-slinger’s unique methods of locomotion as well as one of the earlier open world superhero games. After it’s release in 2004, Spider-man 2 went on to become one of Playstation 2 Magazines “Top 100 PS2 Games of all time”, one of ScrewAttacks “Top 10 Movie Based Games” and one of the titles in the book “1001 Video Games to Play Before You Die”. During this Animation Flash Back Session, two of the animators from the team, James Zachary (Animation Lead) and Ryan Duffin (Animator) will reunite to dust off an old PS2, boot up the game and discuss the time they spent developing Spider-man and give a behinds the scenes look at what was needed to bring to life our beloved web-slinger.
Speakers:
James Zachary Animation Director at Zynga
Ryan Duffin Senior Animator at DICE LA


An Intro to Animation in Unreal Engine 4

Have you ever wondered how animators get their animations in game and make them part of an interactive character?  Have you heard about “state machines” or “blend spaces” but aren’t quite sure what it all means?   Watch Jay and Laurent setup an animated character in Unreal where they will cover these topics and more.
Speakers:
Jay Hosfelt Lead Animator at Epic Games
Laurent Delayen Senior Gameplay/Animation Programmer at Epic Games


Animation Flashback: Assassin’s Creed Combat
Assassin’s Creed has become one of the best known franchises in video game history since it’s original release in 2007, but very little is known how it became that. 10 years on, this flashback sheds light on a particular part of that development. As the Lead Combat Animator on the Original Assassins Creed, I will offer a unique insight into how the Combat System was developed.  By sharing the thought process, inspiration, conception, challenges and goals of the system that will appeal to fans of AC and developers alike.
Speaker:
Kristjan Zadziuk Animation Director at Ubisoft Reflections


MOBA Animation: LoL, HotS & Paragon

Do you like MOBAs? So do these three animators working on “Heroes of the Storm” (Blizzard, Lana Bachynski), “Paragon” (Epic Games, Jay Hosfelt), and “League of Legends” (Riot Games, Alex M. Lehmann). In this talk the three of them will chat about animating a few of the iconic characters in these popular games. Expect to hear some the behind-the-scenes “war-stories” from a couple of years of development on these titles. Oh, did we mention they’ll play their games while chatting about it? Grab a drink, prepare a question or two, and join us for an hour with your favorite MOBAs.
Speakers:
Alex M. Lehmann
Art Director at Riot Games
Lana Bachynski Animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Jay Hosfelt Lead Animator at Epic Games


Back to Basics: 2D Animation for Games
For both new and experienced animators, it’s always helpful to revisit the basics. This talk covers the founding principles of animation and in what ways they apply and work in games.
Speaker:
Mariel Cartwright Art Director, Lead Animator and Head of Story at Lab Zero Games


Animation Programming in 2017
This panel of animation programmers will discuss their relationship to animation and design, their impact on the responsive vs realistic debate and what their thoughts are on the newest animation technology making a buzz in the industry.
Speakers:
Laurent Delayen Senior Gameplay/Animation Programmer at Epic Games
Bobby Anguelov Animation Technical Lead at WB Games Montreal
Geoff Harrower Senior Gameplay/Animation Engineer at EA Vancouver
Dan Lowe Senior Technical Animator at Visceral Games


Making Uncharted 4’s Interactive Cinematic Sequences
From initial idea to final polish, animation and design at Naughty Dog work in lockstep to pre-vis, prototype then assemble memorable and cinematic story sequences with the aim to keep the action as “on-the-stick” interactive and exciting as possible.
Speaker:
Jonathan Cooper Animator at Naughty Dog


Fine, God-Dammit! We’ll Review it Live!

Gwen and three other unfortunate animators are strapped to a couch. They are forced to drink cold beverages and chat about animation in games while watching a series of curated animation clips. Some clips will be from high profile games that have recently released, and some clips will be damning examples of game animation gone wrong. Gwen will be curating, and she will be the only animator with prior knowledge of what is being shown. The other animators are going in blind. Towards the end of the show we will invite the audience to link other clips for us to respond to. You can link us your demo reel (god help you), a clip of your favorite moment in a video game, or whatever else you would like us to talk about.
Speakers:
Gwen Frey Co-Founder of The Molasses Flood
Dan Lowe
 Senior Technical Animator at Visceral Games
Kristjan Zadziuk Animation Director at Ubisoft Reflections
Jalil Sadool CEO/Co-Founder at Steamroller Studios and Co-Founder of CGTarian Online Animation School


Final Thoughts
Thank you and parting words.
Speakers:
Mike Jungbluth Lead Animator at Volition
Lana Bachynski Animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Tim Borrelli Animation Director of First Strike Games

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Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.