Friday, 22 April 2016

Greg Woodcock Animator at 360 Studios

Escapee Greg Woodcock took our three month intensive animation course here at Escape Studios back in 2011, before launching his animation career in the Games industry. 

Since leaving Escape he has worked for a number of leading games companies including 360, CM, Mew Lab, MI, Easy Tiger and Serious Parody

We asked him to talk about his current projects and also to explain how he succeeded in breaking into the games industry - a rapidly expanding but highly competitive field.

Escape: What are you working on now?
Greg: I am currently working for 360 Studios in Manchester.  We have recently released a mobile and tablet game called MMA Federation, a mixed martial arts strategy sports game, which was launched in January 2016. I have been working on this project as an animator since the beginning of production.

Escape: How did you get the job?
Greg: I was approached via my LinkedIn account , I was nearing the end of some contract work. I already had a lot of past experience in the animation skill set they were looking for and I had animated in the software they used, 3DS Max before. 

I attended an interview and was offered the job based on my showreel and experience in animating combat moves and also displaying a good deal of confidence in animating body mechanics.
Makers of Maya and 3DSMax

Escape: What kind of software and skills are needed?
Greg: The universal answer to this question is to learn as many different software packages you can and try to keep up to date with the industry as often as possible. In reality though, it is very hard to learn so many different software packages to begin with in such a short period of time and it can be quite daunting when you first open up a new 3D software. 

What studios are really looking for is the skill or skills you advertise and display as an animator through your demo reel. Learning in Maya or 3DS Max will give you a great starting base to learn similar software and you will find they are mostly the industry standard. 

I found that being able to animate in Maya and 3DS Max was enough to get me regular work but have increasingly found myself using programs like Motionbuilder. A lot of fast production studios will often have either in house plugins or third party plugins to increase the speed of regular tasks so it is always helpful to keep up with the latest plugins.

Escape: What is the best part of the job?
Greg: I look forward to animating every day; if I didn't I would probably get tired of my job. I enjoy the creative environment and the personalities of the type of people I work with. Starting the day with a blank lifeless character rig and finishing it with a character that has come to life in front of me is the most rewarding feeling of accomplishment. Animating a motion I have not attempted before is also very exciting and it allows me to see what I can accomplish when I become creative.

Escape: How did studying at Escape Studios prepare you for your career?
Greg: I already had a degree in 3D Animation before studying at Escape Studios, but I had left university with really only the knowledge of the 3D software and some very basic animation skills. I had taught myself animation from books and by watching other animators work online that I enjoyed, but I was slow and animated with trial and error until I found a result I was happy with. I was not really industry ready and I would have struggled to keep up with the tight production deadlines if I had been offered a job.

The intense three month course at Escape studios that I enrolled on was what I was searching for at the time. I had the software knowledge but lacked the direction, speed and confidence to animate efficiently within it. I knew my weaknesses were not having the guidance or direction to work at a studio pace or quality, not my technical knowledge or work ethic. Animation tutor Alex Williams was inspirational and a great asset for me to become industry ready in just three months by coaching out the skills within me and helping me put them together as an animator.

Escape: What advice would you give to a student trying to break into the industry?
Greg: Be passionate about animation as it is hard work and requires long hours to become good. Understand that wherever you work the animation you produce is only right if it is what your creative lead has in their head.  Spending all day on your best animated work to date does not make it right. 

Don't worry about starting again, as more practice will always help you improve.  Often it is easier to see things more clearly by starting a new scene. 

Always have a very clear idea of what you are going to animate before you start, either by drawing out poses or finding reference. Enjoy being an animator!  Even if what you are working on is not your passion, animating anything should excite you.

Showreel 2015 from Greg Woodcock on Vimeo.

To see more of Greg's work, follow this link to 

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MA starting in September 2016, follow this link

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