Presentation date: 12/12/2011

Althea Deane has been working as a character animator in the games industry since 2000, but previous to this she worked as a 2D animator in the films/TV industry. She started off by getting herself a degree in illustration at Manchester University, however upon leaving university, Althea discovered that there is not a lot of work for illustrators in the UK, and therefore she tried her hand at animation. Luckily for her, there was an animation studio called “Cosgrove Hall” in Manchester which was just down the road from her, and she earned herself a place there animating cartoons, such as Danger mouse, Count Duckula, etc.

After many years of working in the film/TV industry, Althea decided to turn her attention to the games industry. She started off as a simple cell painter, then after learning flash she did some 2D games animation. Although as technology, specifically games technology, improved, she was forced to learn how to use 3D modelling programs. Althea had to tailor her work towards the games industry when creating a show-reel/Portfolio. She found that a lot of her experience and skills were transferable; however she still had a steep learning curve when she started at Warthog games in 2000. They types of games she was working on at Warthog were games such as Animaniacs, TinyToons, looney toons, etc. This was good as Althea had experience on working on cartoons, so she knew what sort of animations to apply to these games.

One major thing Althea has learnt through her experience in the games industry, in regards to animation, is that most animations need to be quite short, with an instant reaction in most cases. She found this to be a huge contrast to working with 2D animations; films and TV animations are quite long and animations generally have a big build up before they happen, however in games there is no time for the ‘build-up’.

One topic Althea mentioned was the ‘Uncanny Valley’; as a games designer I had knowledge of this, but nothing in depth. The ‘Uncanny valley’ is the point between virtual and reality with characters/organic life in games. She explained that as technology is getting better and better, so is the uncanny valley; characters in games a looking more lifelike and the players are not freaked out by it, and they accept it a lot more.
“The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation, which holds that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s human likeness.”

Althea’s company time line: Cosgrove Hall films –> Warthog Games Ltd –> SCEE –> Sony –> Bizarre Creations –> Evolution Studio –> Spiral House (Current workplace).

From Althea’s lecture, one thing I took from it was the knowledge about working on a contract, as opposed to being fully employed by a company. Althea went on to explain that working for a company full time has some major benefits; health care, pension, security, to name a few. When you are working on a contract you do not have the luxury of these benefits, although the benefits you do get from working on a contract is the ability to work on multiple projects for multiple companies at the same time. Sometimes you are even able to work from home, which can sometimes be a lot easier than travelling. From her experience and advice, I think working full time for a company would be a lot more appealing to me mainly for the security; I want to be able to have a flat and know that I can afford to live there comfortably. Although, one positive thing from doing contract work, is that I might be able to gain a lot of experience and a lot of games to put onto my CV, which would help me appeal to more games companies in the long-run.
I found this information to be really useful, as I didn’t have much knowledge into contracted work, and I also understand the pros and cons to each method of employment.


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