Earlier this month, Cathy spoke on a panel at TAAFI called ‘Press A to Jump: Animation, Art and Interactivity.’ Being a new intern at Rocket 5 (and the panelist’s niece), I was really excited to hear what Toronto’s indie game developers had to say about animating. Cathy was representing not only Rocket 5 but women in indie gaming, being the only female panelist, though the event was hosted by animator Sagan Yee. The other panelists were Jay Edry, Matt Hammill, Miguel Sternberg and Ryan Henson Creighton.
As the panelists explained their background and played demo reels to display their previous work, I recognized a few of the games mentioned and found myself making note of a few I’d want to play in the future. These introductions gave way to a discussion about the differences between animating for features and animating for indie video games.
Cathy’s experience in animating for features came into play here, and she talked about how audience interaction in feature films differs from video games. The character’s believability as a living thing is more important in a film, where the audience is passive. In a video game, the player is the main character. Complex character animation is less important than appropriate reaction times and believable movement. Miguel Sternberg expanded on this by talking about anticipation time before a jump. Certain trade-offs need to be made in order to achieve the right sort of realism; animation may be simpler, but the character moves in a convincing way with a realistic reaction time. Jay Edry pointed out that these limitations (as well as a limited budget) force you to be creative and devise innovative ways to produce your desired games, which is why we see so many unique games in the indie community.
The panelists talked about the multidisciplinary nature of video games; how the very technical aspects mesh together with the artistic. Matt Hammill’s game ‘Gesundheit,’ for example, incorporates his hand-drawn art. His artwork adds a unique texture and atmosphere to the game. The panelists each had different preferences for artistic or technical work, and Ryan Creighton explained the process of using Flash to animate (though most panelists agreed that using Flash can be frustrating, to put it mildly).
My technical understanding is limited, but I found myself engaged by the discussions. Most inspiring, though, was the encouragement the panelists gave to all the aspiring animators, programmers and game designers in the audience. They talked about the rewarding experience of creating your own games and the growing indie game community in Toronto. Cathy pointed out that there’s no real hierarchy when it comes to game design and animation work; it depends on what you’re happy doing.
And we’re happy at Rocket 5!
The panel was a great experience. The audience seemed engaged and the panelists had great advice to share. And, of course, it was awesome to see Cathy talking about her experience and her love for her work. Plus, after the panel, Cathy and I got to go watch short films (“Straight Up Toons”) and eat popcorn. Nom.
About the Author
Christine Feraday is a new addition to Rocket 5. She is attending University of Toronto St. George, studying psychology and English, and is super excited to be a part of the Rocket 5 team!