2014 GDC Animation Bootcamp


After the resounding success of last year, I proudly present the return of GDC Animation Bootcamp on March 17th!

Taking what we learned from last year and listening to the feedback, I believe we have packed this one day event full of the practical, animation focused talks everyone loves, delivered by some of the most inspiring animators in the industry. But the animation fun won’t stop at the Bootcamp, as this year sees the return of Tim Borrelli’s Character Performance Roundtable during each day of the main conference, as well as an array of animation specific talks at the main conference throughout the week.

This is an opportunity to grow both our craft and our involvement with all things game dev, and you are not going to want to miss GDC this year!

Spread the word. Animation at GDC is becoming a big thing.

GDC 2014 Animation Bootcamp
SanFrancisco, CA
March 17th

Game animation has had a bigger and brighter spotlight placed upon it as both technology and narrative in games have allowed more fully realized characters. However, that spotlight has also revealed an industry wide gap in the sharing of game animation knowledge, the application of the craft, and its involvement in the industry at large. Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animators, across AAA and Indie, this bootcamp will be a daylong gathering to rally animators from all over the industry, with a focus on deeper discussions into the needs of game animation. The day will start with a traditional look at the craft by focusing on establishing and conveying a character’s performance. Then throughout the day we will transition into how to best apply that knowledge to game development, through different tools and disciplines, showing how the unique constraints and demands of games are creating the need for a new breed of animator.

Intended Audience
Animators and other disciplines specifically interested in what animation has to offer in regards to character performance, emotion, action and gameplay.

Attendees will leave with all manner of new ideas on what game animation is capable of. Be it tips about leveling up their animation fundamentals or how best to work with and use game design, anything that animation comes in contact with during game development will be shown in a new light.

Speakers & Topics

Welcome & Introduction
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online
Tim Borrelli, Lead Animator, 5th Cell
15 Mins

Achieving A Believable Performance
Jalil Sadool, Senior Animator, Dreamworks
60 Mins
The Animation Industry is moving and changing faster than we ever expected. The number of good animators is increasing every year and finding a stable job in this competitive field is much harder compared to just a decade ago. What therefore gives an animator this extra edge? We often misunderstand good animation for simply good motion and forget that our main focus as an animator is to fool an audience into believing. During the next 45 mins to an hour, we will talk about ‘the believable performance’ and the little things that we tend to forget but that is incredibly essential for a character to come to life.

Establishing An Ecology For NPCs
Mike Jungbluth, Senior Animator, Zenimax Online
30 Mins
A common issue encountered across many studios is how to define and convey the personality and purpose of NPCS. Unlike the main characters, often times NPCs are just a name on a page with some random abilities assigned to them. One of many. With so many characters and production time always limited, creating a sufficient yet streamlined process for finding, defining and communicating what makes a character tick can keep them from falling through the cracks. This talk will cover some of the approaches I have been a part of on different games to try and combat the problem.

Fluid and Powerful Animation Within Frame Restrictions
Mariel Cartwright, Lead Animator, Lab Zero Games
30 Mins
How do you get the clearest, most fluid animation in a 2D game and make it work with responsive gameplay? This talk will explore how Skullgirls was animated and cover the importance of strong keyframes, anticipation, and timing and how you can effectively get these principles across when your designer tells you you only have six frames to deliver a punch. The talk will also use examples from Skullgirls as well as other 2D fighting games, such as Darkstalkers and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, to show various ways of making an animation work. Lastly, the talk will cover what did and didn’t work in Skullgirls and how far the animation has come in the years the game has been in development.

Animating the Spy Fantasy In Splinter Cell Blacklist
Kristjan Zadziuk, Animation Director, Ubisoft Toronto
60 Mins

This presentation focuses on what defined Splinter Cell Blacklist animation pillars, the technical challenges faced by the animation team throughout the development and how we have overcome them.  As we move toward the transition between generations, it is tempting to search for the magic bullet solution of more data, better compression, and improved tech.  Even if this is partly true, it is important to still make smart choices. These are the choices we made.

Animation Prototyping For Games
Jay Hosfelt, Lead Animator, Epic Games
60 Mins
So you have an original game in mind, a new team, or a completely new IP.  You don’t have many art assets yet, and the game designers can’t wait for final art before finding the fun in the gameplay.  So how can animators be effective in this prototype “gray box” phase of design?   Prototyping will not only make animators more effective, but instrumental in the prototype phase. I will be discussing tools and techniques for creating quick “gray box” animation assets for the designers that allow for quick iteration cycles. I will also be breaking down what prototyping is and what a game is, which will help give clarity to what any team should be prototyping.

An Indie Approach to Procedural Animation
David Rosen, Founder, Wolfire Games
30 Mins

Find out how to use simple procedural techniques to achieve interactive and fluid animations using very few keyframes, with examples from indie games like Overgrowth, Receiver and Black Shades. What exactly is the difference between a playable character and a vehicle?

Using the Power of Layered Animation to Expand Premium Content in Battlefield 4
Ryan Duffin, Senior Animator, EA DICE
30 Mins
Complex stateflows and animation layers are changing the face of games animation, allowing for a quantity and variety that would’ve been difficult or even impossible to fit into production schedules and memory not long ago. This talk will follow along with a specific example that uses the power of stateflows and layers to expand the animation features of Battlefield 4 Premium.

Animating Cameras for Games
Simon Unger, Lead Animator, Robotoki
30 Mins

The bar for quality in games is constantly being pushed higher every year, and yet there are still areas that tend to remain afterthoughts during the production cycle. Cameras are one such area. Most game teams don’t have the luxury of a dedicated “camera guy” and as such, the ownership typically gets split up to various people on the team and rarely to anyone with any real-world camera experience. The goal of this talk is to give the audience a primer in cameras and composition, with a focus on how to apply physical camera features and limitations to both gameplay and cinematics to create more believable, appealing, and entertaining experiences.

An Animators Approach to Directing an Idea
Tasha Harris, Lead Franchise Artist, Pixar
30 Mins

In this talk I will use my experiences as Project Lead on Costume Quest to address some challenges an animator might run into when directing a project, and how these challenges might be overcome.



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