If you're a game animator, you're probably already well aware that the Game Animation Bootcamp at GDC is one of the best resources out there for neophyte and veteran animators alike. In fact, there's already an assortment of great talks listed for the 2018 Bootcamp, which is being organized by animators Lana Bachynski and Michael Jungbluth.
To get you ready for all the great sessions, we've reached out to Bachynski, who works as an animator at Blizzard Entertainment, to learn more about her career and what animators can expect at GDC 2018.
Tell us about yourself and what you do in the games industry.
My name is Lana Bachynski and I’m an Animator at Blizzard Entertainment for Heroes of the Storm.
What inspired you to pursue your career?
I feel it needless to say that I’ve always loved video games. In Edmonton, Canada - where I was raised - I was lucky to have been introduced to art (notably digital media) at an early age by both my parents (also artists) and by attending Victoria School of the Arts. By the time I reached high school, ‘Vic’ had a fairly robust animation program. I was fortunate to have a few incredible mentors who saw my interest, pulled me aside and said to me “…people get paid to make art like this, you know”. Things fell pretty naturally into place after that.
Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at GDC.
This year I’ll be helping to organize the Animation Bootcamp as a whole, but I will be personally participating in the Animation Microtalks – 10 speakers, one hour, all falling under one over-arching theme. I don’t want to spoil that theme just yet, but personally, I think it’s going to be a year to remember.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work?
One of the most difficult things I face in my work is likely pretty niche to the game I’m working on. For those who haven’t played, Heroes of the Storm is a MoBA that lives between all the Blizzard universes -- a place we like to call the Nexus.
As such, the characters that populate this world can come from other Blizzard games that our players are already familiar with. Striking the balance between bringing art and motion that is new and unique, while also bringing the familiarity -- doing justice to characters they know and love – can be a daunting challenge.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
I can probably answer this question in two ways – as a developer, and as someone who geeks out about games. As a developer, the most rewarding thing is likely the first moment you watch someone else experience your work. When we push out new content and even just one other person picks up on some little character moment I squeeze in somewhere – even just a small variation on an idle or attack ability – that makes the effort it takes to do those little things worthwhile.
As someone who geeks out about games, it’s very much tied into my answer for the above: I get to work on iconic characters from my childhood. The opportunity to do a new take on heroes I know and love, adding my own mark to the long history of Blizzard lore, all while creating art that challenges me – it is certainly a privilege, to say the least.
Do you have any advice for those aspiring to join your field someday?
Have a killer portfolio, get involved with your community, and be nice to everyone around you. The industry can be a real small place if you’re unkind.