At the heart of every AAA video game is an animation team working magic. Like everything else in entertainment, animation has evolved rapidly over the past decades, casting us into a new era of interactivity, possibility and exciting challenges. What does this mean for animators in video games and how can you build a spectacular career as one? We go behind the scenes with Lead Animator Alessandro Camporota to find out what goes into creating animated awesomeness for some of the most acclaimed AAA games in the world.
Hey Alessandro, tell us more about yourself!
I’m a Lead Animator in Ubisoft Singapore on an unannounced project. I was originally from Rome, Italy, and I’ve worked in every major entertainment industry from games and VFX to feature films and TV series. I joined Ubisoft Singapore 8 months ago and I’m having the time of my life working with incredibly passionate teams.
Which are the major areas animation is used in a video game?
Gameplay animation makes the bulk of it. For our fans to have an immersive experience, we make sure that animations are reactive and convey a great sense of weight and dynamism. We’ve also got animated cinematics to help us tell a compelling story. So realistic acting and quality camera work makes a world of difference in that AAA experience.
How is animation for games different from animation for film or other media?
With VFX and feature films, you’ll usually get to work on a few sequences and polish the animation from a certain camera angle. In gameplay however, you’ll have to pay attention to how everything looks in 360° as the player could be viewing it at any angle. It can get more challenging when you add speed and interactivity into the mix, but you will feel super proud and accomplished when everything works out!
"With VFX and feature films, you’ll usually get to work on a few sequences and polish the animation from a certain camera angle. In gameplay however, you’ll have to pay attention to how everything looks in 360° as the player could be viewing it at any angle."
What inspired you to become an animator? And how did you turn that passion into a career?
I’ve been a huge fan of hand-drawn 2D animated films since I was a kid. I was amazed at how they were able to convey so much emotion while retaining incredible realism and artistic sense. They gave me the inspiration and energy to go out there and start creating. I’m excited to see that with the improvement of game engines over the years, we’ve got more control over animations than ever before and we’re really starting to push the limits of quality and realism.
What does an animator do day to day?
Our typical day usually starts with a bit of brainstorming, where we try to explore different ways to improve on our work. Sometimes we’ll jump in front of the camera and record ourselves to study movements from actual body mechanics. When we’re happy with what we’ve got, we’ll start working in our 3D software. There can also be some animation tests, feedback sessions and coffee breaks with the team!
Alessandro creates animation tutorials on Youtube in his free time.
What are some of your biggest & most exciting challenges at work?
As an animator, one of the biggest challenges is to ensure the physicality of movements. This refers to the impression of weight and correct timing of the moving objects. It’s easy to forget the details of physicality when you’re working on an animation for an extended period of time. We’ve also got to be open-minded and adaptable as even really good animations may not turn out the way we’ve imagined during the testing phase.
I’m also a lead, which means I’m managing and mentoring a team of animators. As we work with many other studios on each project, it’s part of my job to make sure we’re all on the same page to make the magic happen. I really enjoy brainstorming and exchanging knowledge with animators all over the world and am fortunate to work with such a talented and international team of experts!
"I really enjoy brainstorming and exchanging knowledge with animators all over the world and am fortunate to work with such a talented and international team of experts!"
What are the skills needed to get & do well in a job in animation?
I’d say - master your Body Mechanics and be able to apply the twelve principles of animation. If you’re a junior animator, take some time to understand how the human body works. You should always push the limits of your own creativity, have great passion for what you do and challenge yourself to think out of the box!
If you’re new to animation, stick to the basics and take it step by step. I’ve seen beginners try too hard to animate sequences above their current skill level. In their eagerness to do a cool action or combat sequence, they end up taking more than they can handle. Embrace the fundamentals of animation before moving on to something more complex.
Why is Ubisoft Singapore a great place to be for an animator? What excites you about coming to work every day?
My two favourite things are the projects and the people. Ubisoft is an absolute treasure cove of creative products and some Ubisoft games are my all-time favourites. Working on something you’re a big fan of makes all the difference. And on top of that, you’re surrounded by passionate individuals and talented developers from all over the world. This diversity and vibrancy is crucial for producing great AAA games.
Ubisoft is an absolute treasure cove of creative products and some Ubisoft games are my all-time favourites. Working on something you’re a big fan of makes all the difference.
Any final words of advice for people hoping to join the animation team in Ubisoft Singapore?
If you want to join our team, pick your best and proudest work for your portfolio. Show us your amazing pet projects and wow us with your passion and knowledge. Don’t just send us your generic animations, we want to challenge you to be creative and bold. Dare to stand out from the rest!
If you are an animator dreaming of a career like Alessandro’s, it’s time to take charge of your destiny and create the unknown with us! Check out our latest job opportunities here.