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Assassins Creed Job Roles

A group presentation on Ubisoft and job roles within the gaming industy.
by

Charlotte Higton

on 12 May 2015

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Transcript of Assassins Creed Job Roles

A Storyboard artists job is to:
Assassins Creed Job Roles
Concept Artist
Gilles Beloeil
- Ubisoft is a french multinational video game developer and publisher.

- 3rd largest independent publisher of games in the world (29 studios in 19 countries + subsidiaries in 26 countries)

- Ubisoft Montreal is responsible for the Assassins Creed games and is the largest development studio with 2100 employees.

- Ubisoft has the 2nd largest mount of in-house development staff in the world

How long does your usual development progress take for a single illustration and what does this process usually consist of?

"I have a lot of different processes. Technique is not so important. A finish illustration as you can see on my website can take me 3 to 6 days. Less finished sketches can take a few minutes to a few hours. The more details, the more time..."

Do you ever use visual references?

"I always use a lot of references. I spend sometimes a day looking for the maximum visual information I can about the subject, the mood, the design, the lightning, some character poses, costumes, etc... And also some visual inspirations too, from artists I admire."
Character design
HAVE TO HAVE A BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF:​
Animation​
3D modeling
Anatomical structures
Concept art
Texturing​
Traditional art background
Ability to work interdependently​
Cooperative capabilities
Average salary of a character designer=$34,181-$99,757​
Country:United States, USD currency, updated March 31 2015, individuals reporting 328
TYPICAL QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS:​
Degree in animation or​ Game design​
Illustration degree (With knowledge of digital software as well as traditional skills)
Hello, I am Eric Caron and I live and work in Montreal.​
I have worked in animation for various TV series as a background painter.​
I have worked 2 years at Ubisoft on the first Assassin’s Creed game. I worked there, in the “cinematic team”, as a storyboarder, matte-painter, and concept artist.​
Later I worked in other smaller video-game companies in Montreal.
The interview
Becoming a character

designer for Assassins creed, did you get the position via your own ​
approach to the company, or were you followed up by a person that was ​
working in the company at the time?

application sent to different teams​
Sending an application to the Human Resources team is a good way to specify the role that you would like
Already knew some people within the company
What were the biggest drawbacks you faced working for a big company and with a big group of people? How did you overcome them?​
Because the company is so big:​
You can feel like a tool​
Sometimes the hierarchy is a little bit heavy to deal with.​
Decisions in the process of the work can be very long to be stated​

How much freedom did you have for the designs of the characters?​
First phase lets you have a lot of freedom
Characters then evolve
recommended not to restrain creativity at the start.


How do you make yourself stand out from the other artists and get the job?

Highlight your strengths and areas of talent ​
fill your portfolio with appropriate content
focus of the desired role, but demonstrate other capabilities ​
Personal work is highly encouraged ​
show good human qualities (e.g. cooperation, organization etc.)
Is it more important to be yourself in your art, or to tick the ​
requirements when designing a character? from your experience what has ​
been more successful?

try to stick to what is required for the production. ​
control what you create ​
Can still implement your style to that. ​
The leaders won't appreciate it if you don't follow the guidelines​
Does the role of character design open up other doors within the animation and gaming industry or is it a profession that is restricted and limited to that specified role only? ​
Really rare in big companies ​
Unless you're a senior member of it ​
In smaller companies this occurs much more often
How much time was given to you to develop a character?​
all depends of the production schedule !​
Usually at the beginning you have a lot of time for pre-production, but then the pace is accelerates​

How did you address the historical accuracy for the fashion of the ​era that the game was based on and what were the main resources that you​
used for references?​
The more references the better​
Internet is your best friend​
Movies, paintings, everything can be used.​

How many different concepts did you have to do for each character?
No real limitation​
Provided that each concept is original
As a character designer did you only design human characters or did you have to design animals too (e.g. horse Armour)?​
character designers are asked to design anything which is considered like a character: people, animals, creatures, etc...​

The character design sheets have the characters posing. How many different angles do you have to draw the characters from?​
“turnarounds” for each character (or at least for the main characters): Front , 3/4 front, sides, back, 3/4 back, etc…​
Sometimes the person who is in charge of the modeling will only need a front/back view and a side view.​
sketches of the character in different poses.​
And some color concepts too.​

How closely did you work with the other departments of the project, who were the closest other departments? ​
Whatever is your specialty (character or background design) , you will work very closely with the Art Director, and the 3D modelers .​
If you are a storyboarder, you will work more with the Director and the Animators.
Assassins Creed
- Assassins Creed is Ubisofts Biggest Selling Franchise with 73 Million copies sold as of April 2014.
- Influenced by a novel called Alamut written by Vladimir Bartol whilst creating concepts for the game from Prince Of Persia.

- Based on real life historical settings but the stories themselves for the settings narrative beats otherwise the team is only limited to the real life event
- Ubisoft Montreal is responsible for Single Player campaign, Ubisoft Annecy for multiplayer and the handheld games were created by Gameloft + Gryptonite alongside Ubisoft Montreal
Assassins Creed Estimated Budgets/Costs

AC 1 (2007) = $20,000,000 USD

AC 2 (2009) = $24,000,000 USD

AC3 (2012) = $4,000,000 USD on advertising alone

AC4 Black Flag (2013) = $100,000,000 USD

AC Unity = $150,000,000 USD
Animation On Assassins Creed

By Nathan Backhouse
Contacting Animators
Steven McClellan - Facial Animator

Jonathan Cooper - Animation Director
When looking for suitable professionals to contact I searched the internet. My list became shorter over time and I ended up with two animators who were willing to answer my questions. They were...
And
What inspired you to become an animator and how did you become an animator in the games industry?

While I was on my mission for the Church another missionary
told me about his 3D classes he took at college

I met a couple guys at Church who were
modellers for Dreamworks
and I asked them a whole bunch of questions. 
I took some 3D classes at college and loved them. 
That made me want to take animation and art classes too and then
transfer to an art school
to study more. 
I wanted to do something I would enjoy as a career.




How did you find yourself working for Ubisoft, which of their studios did you work in?

Over the past 7 years I have worked for 10 companies on many projects, mostly video games.
Except for a few times, I generally did not work for the main production companies;
I worked for
smaller 3rd party companies
that were
subcontracted to do certain parts
. So no
I didn't work for Ubisoft
I worked for Image metrics who specialized in Facial Animation.
What were your main skills and credentials the employers looked for when they employed you?

Jobs flowed from previous work
for example Image Metrics contacted me out of school who liked my
eye movement from my showreel
, SCEA and Eden FX liked my
facial animation from Image Metrics
and so on... Normally once I had an interview with a company
it generally turned into a job
, sometimes not even having a face to face interview but
just a phone call
. They want to know who is
capable and has the time
if you don't there wont bother.
What size was the team you worked in and what did your role include?

At Image Metrics
The animation
team grew and shrunk
depending on the amount of work, there were probably
about 10 animators in total
.
How long is the animation process in the games industry and how long did you take to complete your role on that job?

At Image Metrics projects lasted
about 1-3 months
.
Although
bigger jobs lasted 1-2 years
when I was more hands on and doing more of the game I worked for longer, although
I didn't work the entire time
.
Which was the biggest issues you faced in that role and how did you overcome them?

Shots generally
come back with notes
, and I have leant
not to get to attached to my shots
as as they aren't actual my shots but the companies I am working for. That's how I over come the issues of notes I think of it
like version one which is just a rough Idea
so that when the notes come back I can hopefully get the final version done .
In compassion to other jobs you have worked on how did working on Assassins Creed compare and did working for a AAA studio impact your popularity and work recognition gaining you more opportunities and future clients?

I enjoyed that project (AC Brotherhood). I was already
a fan from the first game
, so I loved that and the
work looked good
when it was all done. But first and foremost, its the
people I work with and the environment
I work in that makes the
experience enjoyable
. Working on AC: Brotherhood was actually
a lot like working on any other project
. Though, sure the
prestige of the title
and the fact
I was fan added to it.
- Visualize a script/idea, plan and draw panels.

- Work with directors,writers and designers in order to make a design document.

- Create storyboards for gameplay,cinematics and cutscenes.
According to Creative Skillset , A storyboard artist comes under Games Artist and usually has parts in other job roles such as concept artist and making other visual elements of the game.
Storyboard Artists
Wayne Arthur Murray
Jason Kruse
Wayne Murray was a Senior Storyboard Artist at Ubisoft Montreal and worked the storyboards for the Assassins Creed series aswell as many other Ubisoft titles.
What inspired you to become an animator and how did you become an animator in the games industry?

I always
loved games
and
made game styled animation at home as a kid
. I was in luck the studio that
made the original GTA was down the road
and made contacts there, eventually
getting a job after graduating
from art college.
How did you find yourself being approached by Ubisoft?

They approached me after
I talked at a conference
. That's a great way to get exposure. Funnily, Its was known in Montreal that I was very passionate at my current job in BioWare, but they got me at a good time when I was
looking for more of a challenge.
What were your main skills and credentials the employers looked for when they employed you?

Passion, entrepreneurship, (a can do attitude rather than a complainer) Previously shipped titles in leadership roles
Jason Kruse is a Senior Animator/Senior Games Artist at Playnext/Aeria Games and Ubisoft subcontracted the mobile Assassins Creed Game Memories to Kruse's company.

Kruse also animated the mission sequences for the game aswell as making the storyboards.
Being a Director of Animation; how large are the teams you have to manage and what are your main roles?

I had
50 animators
, programmers and designers with me. My role was to
oversee the quality and consistency
of the
in-game animation
by
providing examples myself
, as well as
inspiring
the team to greater heights.

How long is the animation process in the games industry and how long did you take to complete your role on that job?

AC3 was a
three-year project.
Animation is faster than it used to be because we have more support from programmers and and technical directors, but that only allows us
to do more
so I guess it still takes the
same amount of time,
only now the games and scope are bigger.
Which was the biggest issues you faced in that role and how did you overcome them?

Convincing the executives
that I was competent as it was my first game within Ubisoft, despite being successful elsewhere we finally won them over when the the game was
shown at E3 and garnered much

praise
for the
animation quality
.
In compassion to other jobs you have worked on how did working on Assassins Creed compare?

AC3 was huge and the team was
immensely passionate
. An open-world game is much
harder to control
as we offer so many option to the player, where as
more linear games can be tightly scripted and paced
to give players the experience we want when we want them to feel it.
Did Working for a AAA studio impact your popularity and work recognition gaining you more opportunities and future clients?

Absolutely. We won awards
for AC3 and it
gained me my current job
at Naughty Dog. Without the exposure from AC it would have been much harder to get here because the quality bar here is much higher than at Ubisoft.

http://www.mcclellananimation.com/ACBrotherhood.html


Video Links
Jonathan Cooper 2013 Assassins Creed Show reel
Steven McClellan AC2 and AC Brother Hood Facial Animations
Storyboard Interview
Inspiration?
Job role on Assassins Creed ?
Differences between the Games Industry & TV/Film Industry?
Size of crew?
Time frame for storyboard process?
Parts of game that are boarded?
Creative Control?
Storyline Development?
Companies involved?
Traveling and Family Life?
Suggestion for entry level position?
Wayne: Loved art, drawing and admired photography he saw in movies.
Jason: Loved telling stories, written and visually. Storyboards consists of both.
Wayne: TV is faster paced compared to Games. You should still aim to be quick in Games so you will be more in demand. You rarely stay on the same team for long periods of time in Games.
Jason: In the Film industry you pitch your ideas to a few different people and in Games you present them to your immediate supervisor.
Wayne: Work with the director to build an inspiring design document for the animators/film makers.
Wayne: Gameplay, cutscenes and cinematics.
Wayne: N/A
Wayne: N/A
Wayne: N/A
Wayne: Sometimes the script isn't complete.
Wayne: N/A
Wayne: N/A
Wayne: Drawings, storytelling ability and panel shot choice.
Jason: Draw a lot of idea for various cinematics when the player succeeded or failed.
Jason: Maybe 15 at the most.
Jason: Storyboard process was a weeks worth of work.
Jason: Solely storyboarded cut scenes and cinematics.
Jason: Good amount of control over shots etc + frequently met with director to discuss ideas and present thumbnails to him.
Jason: No script handed over. Game designers came up with ideas and Jason's team had to realize them.
Jason: As far as he knows, Jason's company did all the work for the Assassins Creed mobile title subcontracted to them from Ubisoft.
Jason: Fortunately never had to travel and worked from home for this job.
Jason: Rarely you will find a job listing for a Games storyboard artist. TV will want to see a lot of board examples and Games will generally want to see finished illustrations.
Storyboard Artist
By Charlotte Higton
work by Johan Grenier
work by Antoine Rol
work by Antoine Rol
Historical accuracy
game: Assassins creed 2, based around Renaissance Italy
The dome of Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
cathedral in Florence
work by Jonah Grenier
work by Anais Bernabe
Katya Shipulina
What does an Games Animator do?

They are responsible for the portrayal of
movement and behaviour.


Applied to
give life to game characters and creatures,
and sometimes other elements such as
objects, scenery, vegetation and environmental effects.


For
in game behaviours
and
predefined sequences
or
cut scenes
.


Game production is
collaborative
so Animators work as part of the
art department team
.


Animators must make extensive libraries of
reusable animations
for each character.


They are also usually responsible for the technical processes of
rigging
and
skinning
of the characters.

Thank You For Listening
Fulltime employee at Ubisoft Montreal since 2007

Worked on AC 2, AC Lineage, AC Revelation, AC 3 and AC Unity (as well as other games within Ubisoft)

Studied to become a graphic designer
What is your role as a concept artist on a game?

"My job is to help the Art Director show his vision of the game to the team. For this, I produce many concept artworks. We have to show what the game will look like at the end. Also, I try to inspire the team as much as possible, and give them solutions an ideas. Sometimes, I just do paintover on screenshots of the game, to show them how we can improve it visually."
Is Concept Artist only a freelance job?

"Not at all. A lot of studios like to have their concept artists available anytime. Ubisoft Montreal doesn't hire freelancers very often for example."
Produces illustrations to help realize the vision of the production
Need to have knowledge of computer illustrations software programs
Understand what it required from a scene
Be a strong communicator
Able to visually interpret other people's ideas
Be flexible and adapt to change when asked
Work as part of a team
Senior Concept Artist, Ubisoft Montreal
Moodboard for AC Unity
What can you say about the transition from being interested in concept art to choosing it as a career path?

"If you want to become a concept artist, you need more than personal interest in it. You have to be passionate about it because the road is long before achieving a decent illustration. And it sometimes come with a lot of frustration… In my opinion, the main ingredients to make this a career path: passion, patience, hard work, motivation and determination."
Games Industry Pipe Line
- writing and creating design document.

-The creative freedom.

- Once the script is down...
Full transcript