Next up in our Live Story series is an introduction to our 3d Animator & Artist, Matt Graham. Matt brings our characters and environments to life with his modeling, texturing, and rigging skills. His talents also include foam sword fighting and puppy wrangling.
Matt Graham: I started at Outhouse on October 21st, 2015.
OG: Can you tell us about the experience of getting this job and what it is like to see the company grow?
MG: It was very rewarding to finally be hired by Outhouse. It took about 5 years from the time that I first started working and learning 3D to when I landed my first job. It took a lot of hard work so finally getting hired was very validating and exciting. It’s also very cool to see how the projects we are working on and the focus of the company has evolved over the last year. Being part of a company diving head first into a new field such as VR is great.
OG: What made you want to work in gaming?
MG: It was after I graduated college, I realized I had a degree in a field I was not so passionate about. I ended up working some jobs I hated, and some jobs that were just ok. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people that can say I love my job, I’m excited to go in, and I am NOT just working for the weekend. I have always played video games and like most people I had no idea what actually went into creating them. It was during this time period that I was asked if I could do anything, what would it be. Making games was the answer. So I took that first step and started pursuing 3D at a small school up in New York. It’s all about taking that first step and now a couple years later I’m making a living creating games.
OG: Can you tell us what a day in the life of a Animator/3D Artist is like?
MG: Being a generalist, I have a lot of different jobs when it comes to production and it all depends on what the project is. One day I could be modeling and texturing characters, environments or props. The next day I could be rigging up characters to they can be animated. Or I might be animating and bringing the characters we make to life. It’s fun to switch it up.
OG: What programs and tools do you use every day?
MG: I use MODO for modeling, rigging and animation, Photoshop for texturing, and ZBrush for digital sculpting.
OG: Can you tell us about your desk setup?
MG: Well my desk on any given day is a mess. But I have the basics. Dual monitors, mouse and keyboard, and a drawing tablet. I also have a small fan, very exciting stuff. And I sit on a big exercise ball so bouncing around throughout the day only adds to the excitement. I am also penned in with my dog so he doesn’t tear the office to the ground.
OG: That is right! We hear you have an assistant around the office, care to share about that?
MG: Yes he isn’t very helpful though. He ends up just sleeping all day in the office or trying to sneak away to eat garbage. I think he might be let go soon… He’s a Welsh Corgi pupper named Bronson. He’s almost 3 months old. Some of his hobbies include chewing on furniture, chewing on hands and feet, and generally anything chewing related. I’ve always loved that breed. I have been saying I was going to get a corgi since I was in college, so I finally did it.
OG: What inspires you? Your job is very creative, how do you keep motivated and where do you find your inspiration?
MG: As an aspiring animator you can really find inspiration anywhere. A cool thing about getting into animation is you really start to be more observant of everything around you. You start to break down what the body does when it moves, how people and animals of different shapes and sizes move. Sometimes finding inspiration is as easy as seeing a really cool pose and wanting to build an animation around it. It’s also fun seeing how different poses or facial expressions convey so much information and character. What keeps me motivated is one day being able to work on the types of games that I like to play. I will be playing a game like Dark Souls 3 and I’ll see an awesome attack move from some badass enemy and it just adds so much to the experience. Even after graduating school I’ve continued to take classes like iAnimate, and right now I’m doing private tutoring. Plus, animation is just fun to do so it’s definitely not a chore to sit down and work on something new.
OG: What are you working on right now for our latest VR title?
MG: Right now we are working on getting a lot of the modeling and texturing for the games environment done. So right now I am working on finalizing room structures, making pillars and different structural props, and working on some of the more unique hero props.
OG: Can you tell us anything really fun or unique about our upcoming title?
MG: Without giving too much away, I am really excited about some of the characters we have in the works. I think we’ve come up with some really cool and twisted takes on some of the creatures of lore that a lot of people are already familiar with, but may not have seen like this. I think people are really going to dig what they see.
OG: What has been the most challenging part of your job now that you are creating things for a VR game?
MG: Too be honest, my part hasn’t changed much. Still pretty much the same workflow, just making it as efficient as possible. Reducing texture sizes and draw calls and making sure the geo isn’t crazy dense.
OG: What is something that you have learned from working with VR?
MG: I’ve learned just how much putting yourself into a VR environment can really affect your sense of reality. It’s pretty crazy. For example, there is a VR experience on Oculus where a T-Rex comes walking down the hall and gets face to face with you. Of course I’m standing here and I’m telling myself, “of course there isn’t a T-Rex walking up on me”. But as he gets closer your brain starts to have a real reaction and a little bit of panic sets in. On a weird level your brain truly thinks you’re there, even when you consciously know you aren’t. It’s so weird but very cool.
OG: What do you like about working with VR?
MG: It is very cool knowing that all the stuff we are creating is going to end up being a world that people can experience. They are going to be standing and looking around in a structure that we made. And they are going to come face to face with monsters and creatures that we have brought to life. Not just seeing them on a screen, but stuck in a room with them.
OG: Any advice for someone wanting to get into the gaming industry and do a job like yours?
MG: I have two pieces of advice:
- If you are interested in 3D or games, it’s all about taking that first step and starting to pursue it. Whether that be downloading a student version of Maya and just getting into the program, watching tutorials online, or going back to school. Once you get into it, keep working and keep improving. Don’t get to a level that you think is what will get you a job. Be constantly striving to improve your work, get feedback on your work from people better than you, and continually develop your artistic eye.
- When trying to get that first job it is really helpful to know people in the industry. That doesn’t mean going to an event and right off the bat telling people you want a job and start handing out cards. Being able to approach someone, even in the industry, and just having a conversation is a great way to leave an impression. Being the person who came up and had a memorable and fun conversation about games you like or any other similar interests, will leave a better impression than the person who walked up, handed a card and basically asked for a job. Getting that first job takes time. Getting to know the people you potentially want to work with and showing you’re someone that they would want to work with goes a long way.
Connect with Matt