You inspire us. You come to the Animation Mentor community with your own story, experiences, and that is exactly what makes our campus so engaging. Today, we want to highlight alumni, Vincent Bonefass who developed and produced a game that got picked up by Playstation. We chatted with Vincent to learn more about how he grew as a game animator and the process of producing a successful game like Kick & Fennick. We applaud Vincent, and invite you to learn more about him.
-The Animation Mentor Crew
What was your experience prior to coming to Animation Mentor?
Vincent: I’ve always been fascinated by animation, but it took a while for me to figure out I could actually do something with it professionally. I’m a big gamer and early on I knew this was the industry I wanted to work in, but only after IT school and a couple of weeks of computer science I realized my primary interest is in the visuals side of things. That’s when I enrolled at an academy of fine arts and got my first real taste of animation. During that time I did an internship at a game company where they offered me a job. Animation Mentor came up during my time at the academy and it looked amazing, but when I started working in the industry I wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth the investment. The company I worked at went bankrupt and I got hired at another game company, all the while eyeing Animation Mentor from the sidelines and seeing the great stuff coming from it. After another amazing student showcase, I just had to enroll.
What skills did you learn at Animation Mentor that have helped with you in game animation?
Vincent: I still have tons and tons to learn and miles to go to become a better animator. Looking back though, prior to Animation Mentor I was just completely in the dark, stumbling around and being very inconsistent in my work. There are tons of things I can point to that really helped me become a better animator, such as the deep love I now have for arcs and learning how to look for the endlessly unique ways people move to add texture to an animation, but I think what stands out most is workflow. The framework that Animation Mentor supplies allows you to really see what needs work and build on your skills. If I’d never enrolled in Animation Mentor, I’d probably gotten better over time, but nowhere near as quickly and efficiently.
What inspired you and your team to create this game?
Vincent: The idea for Kick & Fennick came from the memories we have of us as kids playing superheroes. Dressed in cardboard armor, armed with sticks and pinecone grenades, fighting evil all day long. As a kid you’re not thinking about the logistics of the imaginary weapon you’re wielding, but if a kid would fire such a super weapon, he would launch himself into the air just from the weapons recoil! This started the idea for the main mechanic of our game.
Can you talk about the process of having Playstation Vita pick up your game?
Vincent: We’re a two man team, but we love big cinematic game experiences. On the one hand this really gets us into trouble as we don’t have any real income and making big setpieces will not make the development time of our game any shorter. On the other hand, when we did finally show the game to a couple of people the reactions were very good. One party we showed the game to was Greenhill Studios, who thought the game would be a be perfect fit for PlayStation Vita. They brought us in contact with Sony who agreed with their assessment and here we are!
What tips would you give to animators trying to get into game animation?
Vincent: Generally, you should be able to deliver consistent, high quality animation. If you’re applying for an animation position, that will naturally be a very big factor. However, in a lot of small companies, there may not be a place for someone who only knows his way around Maya. If you’re interested in working in games, learn how to get your animation into a game engine. Better yet, get to grips with the technical side of animation in games. Learn about rigging and skinning for a realtime environment, animation trees, state machines and how animations actually work with the game code. Unreal and Unity are popular game engines, download the free versions they offer and start from there. Both have tons of documentation and big communities that can help. In games, animation is part of a much bigger whole. It needs to work visually as well as technically. Understanding all this will enable you to anticipate the technical needs for the animation and create a much better end result, which will make you a much more attractive hire for game companies.
Learn more about Kick and Fennick and other projects produced by Jaywalkers Interactive.