Published: 20 January 2002
This interview with Splice doesn’t appear to be online any longer, and we can’t find it using the Internet Archive. If you manage to find a copy online, please contact us. The date of publication quoted is the date Xavier first archived the interview.
Splice recently caught up with a group of 3D grads who are now working at Oddworld in San Francisco for a roundtable chat on what is going on in their world—Oddworld—these days. The participants:
Matt Aldridge (Class 12), Technical Director, Ryan Ellis (Class 21), Junior Technical Director, Jorge Mauricio Hoffman (Mo) (Class 21), Junior Technical Director, Marke Pedersen (Class 23), Junior Technical Director, Iain Morton (Class 23), Junior Technical Director and Rajeev Nattam (Class 23), Junior Real Time Modeler.
Splice: What is your day like at Oddworld?
Iain: First and foremost I drain one of the huge pots of coffee in the kitchen into my mug. After chugging that down I check email and figure out how I should break up the day with whatever I’m working on, what I need to get done that day and whether or not I need input from the production design department. I usually have a few questions about details or direction on the model I’m working on for production design that have come up from the previous evening’s work. Once those are cleared up I get to modeling and texturing. Work is a back and forth process with the art department in order to stick closely to the designs presented to me on paper. Near the end of the day production design makes its rounds, available for any questions or critique if need be.
Ryan: Hmmmm, well it all begins with a short bike ride from my apartment to the front door and then a quick jog up two flights of stairs. Then the fun begins. I log into my NT and my SGI, and check the email for any pressing matters or good jokes, then I open up Maya and PhotoShop. After a few hours of work its lunchtime. Sometimes the CG Dept. goes out together for lunch but more often than not we head for the company kitchen to make some Chef Boyardee or Top Ramen (mmmmm delicious). After lunch it’s back to work until rounds. Then after rounds (which occur around 6:00 pm) it’s time to play some San Francisco Rush with the guys to relieve the day’s tensions. Then more often than not it’s back to work for a few more hours. And after all that I can go to bed happy, knowing that tomorrow is going to be just as fun!
Splice: How did you end up getting this job?
Ryan: Hard work and a love for what I do!
Jorge: After completing my training in VFS, four friends and I visited last year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles, with my demo reel in hand. I was determined to get a job where I could contribute, grow and keep on learning, but I also had to love what I do. I was lucky to meet Mike and Bonnie from Oddworld’s Human Resources there—after looking at the demo they were showing I was hooked. We exchanged demo reels with business cards, and a few weeks later and after a few phone calls I had my interview.
Iain: Long hard hours at school were the most important thing. The tape is everything when it comes to first impressions and the chance at an interview. I can’t discount a great recommendation from the VFS 3D instructor, Fernando Pazos. He liked my stuff, Oddworld has a great respect for VFS and their instructors and the combination of that and my reel got me in the door. The interview was good, and I found myself at Oddworld shortly thereafter.
Splice: What path took you to where you are today?
Marke: I guess you could say the path that brought me here had a few turns in it. After high school I went straight into sciences in university (headed towards medicine). After a year of sciences I realized that I would rather do something a little more creative, and I switched my program and took two years of marketing (hoping to get into the design side of advertising). I saw that most people with marketing degrees worked more on the business side of marketing, so again I decided to change my direction. From marketing I went into a new media design school and began to feel a little more at home with the sort of work that I was doing. I really enjoyed web design, but 3D was without a doubt my favorite design medium. After completing my new media design program, I immediately started searching out schools with more well developed 3D education pro‐grams. I applied to VFS, went through the 3D Animation and Digital Effects Program, and now I’m here at Oddworld.
Splice: How did you get Oddworld’s attention?
Matt: I think they liked my lighting, modeling, and animation. In my reel, I also made a whole lot of simple things look much more complicated than they really were. During my interview I sat down with Lorne and he played my tape in the war room. He instantly started pointing out all of the hacks and cheats that I had used to get the job done. I thought for sure that I wasn’t going to get the gig but it turned out that he dug the fact I cheated everywhere I could. I got the shot done quickly and it still looked good and worked. They saw potential in me.
Rajeev: VFS. They saw the VFS logo on my demo tape, and apparently this yielded my tape more attention. And the biggest plus was that a VFS grad had just been hired with Oddworld, and he gave me a good recommendation. Network, baby, network!
Splice: What do you think made Oddworld choose you?
Matt: It could have been the part where I told Lorne ‘I think it’s a joke you are willing to pay me to do this.’ So working for free has been really hard these last two years. Nah, I kid, but I did really feel fortunate to be getting paid to do something that I truly love.
Splice: When you think back to your days at VFS, what was the most important thing you learned at the school?
Matt: How to problem solve and especially to not just sit at your computer hitting your head all day. Asking for help even when you’re sure it’s a stupid question is a hard thing to do. We all helped each other and learned a great deal from one another. Everyone was so eager to share information and help out the other classmates. That’s how we work here and it’s a very healthy environment to be in.
Marke: Dedication. This is an industry that will not let you advance without hard work and dedication. Even at school, if you want to leave a ten‐month 3D program with an awesome demo reel, you had better be dedicated.
Rajeev: Hard work. The key thing I learned at the school wasn’t technical in nature. It was more ethical, I guess. The key to success is to work your tail off. It may not seem worth it at the time, but it WILL pay off … in spades. Tackle every project with full force. Constantly experiment, and be willing to learn stuff on your own as well as from instructors. Not only will it look good to your classmates and instructors, but that work ethic will carry over into your demo reel.
Splice: What advice would you give new graduates entering the workforce today?
Jorge: You are in for a ride, if you love what you do. If you don’t, don’t even waste your time.
Marke: Have fun. Sometimes the hours may be long, but how many people can really say that they make a living doing something that they genuinely enjoy doing?
Splice: What advice would you give to new students entering VFS?
Matt: Utilize all of your assets there. Learn everything you can from the instructors and use your time on the machines as best you can. Also remember to keep your reels very simple. If you’re an animator then just make some really super simple characters and animate them well.
Ryan: Have fun while you are at school, and don’t hesitate to share information with your classmates. You can learn so much from your fellow students.
Splice: What made you come to VFS?
Jorge: After spending four years in university I wanted a short program that would teach me the skills I needed to learn. Vancouver Film School was exactly what I needed.
Rajeev: 24‐hour lab access and a very organized and realistic approach to helping students find work. There’s no theoretical nonsense at VFS. Everything is practical and focused on helping you find work.