The People

Boris L

Animator

Joining us from between those nine ampersands made of sand leaps Boris. We used to call Lloyd "Boris". Now we have an actual official licensed Boris, we've stood Lloyd down, he goes back to being Morris, and Boris is "Boris", except when Lloyd is on holiday, when Boris has to be both Boris and temporary acting Morris. There's a flowchart somewhere, I'll dig it out later. Although of course, we had to strengthen the floors and walls, because more than one Boris/Morris in one office, well, you can imagine.

A participant in one of the more unusual hobbies in the office, Boris herds snapping turtles. Oh wait, what? He's heard of snapping turtles. OK, that's less extreme. It's not really a hobby though. No. No, that’s what I'm saying. Yeah. No, look, I'm agreeing with you. Yes. Alright then. Standing about nine feet tall, lying about twelve feet long and deep, like a well, well, like a deep well, Boris is a cheery presence around the office in his fetching lederhosen and fireman's hat which he wears at a jaunty angle. Yeah, the hat. Not the lederhosen. Well I don't know, can you wear lederhosen at an angle? No, not you specifically, I mean like "one". Can one wear them at an angle? Can anyone, is what I mean. Yeah. Well I don't care, that’s what he does.

Things You Were Too Afraid To Ask...

Every once in a while, we interrogate one of our own and put their answers up for all the world to see. Read on to find out more about what Boris does, how he ended up at Splash Damage, and more.

What do you do at Splash Damage?

I am an Animator here at Splash Damage. I am currently working on in-game third and first-person animations for Brink - it’s a good mix of hand-animated stuff and motion capture.

Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started?

I loved playing video games and making short animations. I hadn’t really considered combining these hobbies to form a career until I decided to drop the Plasticine and pick up a mouse. After a week of messing around with Lightwave 5, it was clear that this new dream could become a reality.

Do you have any tips for people wanting to break in?

My advice for people who want to animate in games is don’t spend time modelling and texturing a character that you might like to move - I wasted some time doing this. Instead, just download a rig and get animating.

Persevere. I think my first somersault took over a week to get right and it was less than two seconds long. It’s not uncommon to spend three days looking at the same 20 frames trying to get something right. I think many people who try animation for the first time don’t realise this and either give up or fool themselves into thinking the movement they have created looks right after their first try.

What games have you worked on?

MotoGP (Xbox) - This was a lot of fun. We didn’t have ragdoll so I hand animated all the crashes!

Republic: The Revolution - We had some fun with this too. The designers gave us a lot freedom so we were always sneaking bits of humour into this fairly serious political strategy sim.

Operation Creature Feature - This was a very cool PSN game for the PS3 EYE and making this was a unique experience in terms of creating videogame animation. My arms used to ache when I got home as we had to wave them around a lot during the day to test our animations.

Buzz! The Music Quiz & Buzz! Quiz TV - I was a contractor for a while and worked on pretty much every Buzz! game that Relentless did from the very first one right up until the most recent PS3 release. This was excellent schooling for proper ‘character’ animation. I was given so many different people to animate, from Bruce Lee to Marylyn Monroe, and they all had act like cartoon versions of their real life counterparts.

I also worked on a short film called ‘This Way Up’, which was nominated for an Oscar last year and it’s worth a look.

How did you end up at Splash Damage?

I used to play the Splash Damage maps (Tram, Ice, and Market Garden) back in Return to Castle Wolfenstein and then got well into Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, so I knew who they were. One day I checked the site and there was a vacancy for an animator; I got really excited and applied.

What is it like to work at Splash Damage?

Working here is great; it ticks all the boxes for me - project/location/people.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

Best part of the job is animating people/weapons/miscellaneous bits and bobs and getting things like our SMART animations looking great.

The worst part for me is that I’m sometimes too busy to join in the internal play-tests. Well, that and having to sit near mantegra. :)

What was your first gaming experience?

My first true gaming experience was a healthy Jetpac addiction on the Sinclair Spectrum.

What types of games do you like, and what's your favorite game of all time?

I’ll play anything if it’s good and I don’t mind which genre it might come from.

Hmm, favourite game of all time… blimey, that’s a hard one. How about Rhythm Tengoku for the Gameboy Advance? It’s a collection of around 150 rhythm action mini games and it’s made by the original WarioWare GBA team. I was just blown away by it; I had never played anything like it before, and it’s even got a whole section of drum lessons on it, BRILLIANT. Everyone should play this.

What's the meaning behind your nickname?

‘Zobbo’: half Zorro, half yobbo. Obviously.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work?

When I’m not at work I enjoy the usual stuff; shopping, thinking, drawing, luge training in Austria (not sure that last one really falls under 'usual stuff' -ed)

If you have any questions you'd like to ask, feel free to post them in the comments — our forum-trained tapirs will try to answer as many of them as possible.

Do You Have Any Questions for Boris?

If you have any questions you'd like to ask Boris, feel free to post them in the comments below. Our forum-trained tapirs will try to answer as many of them as possible.

14 Comments

Ahhh Buzz that had some really cool animations, I'm looking forward to seeing how Brink moves :P
Posted on 14 October, 2009 - 19:47
in-game third and first-person animations for Brink - it’s a good mix of hand-animated stuff and motion capture.
Does the SD HQ have such a studio for motion capture? Must be cool to do, though. What do you like most: hand crafted motions or MC? I can imagine the hand crafted motions are far more work, but maybe gives more room for creativity?
We didn’t have ragdoll so I hand animated all the crashes!
Handmade all the crashes? You must've seen a lot of motor crashes then :)
Posted on 14 October, 2009 - 20:54
I believe all the mocap stuff for ETQW was done in the US, from what I remember New Splash Towers doesn't have a mocap, but they may travel to somewhere in england to get that stuff done.. or outsource it again.
Posted on 15 October, 2009 - 00:08
Not too hard to find a mocap studio in London. :)
Posted on 15 October, 2009 - 08:41
Not too hard to find a mocap studio in London. :)
Who does the movement then? You guys hire some actors or...?
Posted on 15 October, 2009 - 12:08
Yes, professional ninjas. They'll be somewhere in the credits! :stroggbanana:
Posted on 15 October, 2009 - 13:45
Yes, professional ninjas. They'll be somewhere in the credits! :stroggbanana:
Better watch out, I feel 'Breaking News: Brink will feature ninja characters and awesome power Movement! Read full article here.' coming right up ^^
Posted on 15 October, 2009 - 17:37
Cool! Made me want to animate sumdingding. I have done few random animations in blender. So I have a lot to learn first. I could do some kind of a quick animated 3d scene in blender. Possibly even a quick """game""" in it. Any ideas guys? I think I've made some funny facial expressions to a monkey face prefab in blender. Then I've done some usual ball-bouncing-make-zigzag-mutate-into-car-turn-around-god-jump-die-stuff. And I also had my run with one of Pegazus' tank models, but it was left half finished. That's my huge experience in animation.
Posted on 16 October, 2009 - 04:46
Yes, professional ninjas. They'll be somewhere in the credits! :stroggbanana:
Wouldn't professional ninjas stay out of the credits?
Posted on 18 October, 2009 - 18:36
You may have noticed me covering myself a little there. The whole phrase is a bit redundant anyway... :rolleyes:
Posted on 19 October, 2009 - 15:09
hi, is 3ds max used to model and animate brink :D
Posted on 16 May, 2010 - 10:43
Pretty sure they moved from 3ds max to maya. [COLOR="White"]the pretty sure means no one will believe me and you will all ask for sources :x[/COLOR]
Posted on 16 May, 2010 - 16:55
rjeez: I'm not entirely sure why you asked in this thread, but no, we use Maya for all modelling and animation on Brink. Some highpoly work is done in ZBrush.
Posted on 17 May, 2010 - 00:24
rjeez: I'm not entirely sure why you asked in this thread, but no, we use Maya for all modelling and animation on Brink. Some highpoly work is done in ZBrush.
Maya{all editions]are awesome, but bit costly for gamedev start up company ;) but because 3Ds and Maya now part of one company, technology morphing between 3Ds and Maya - eventual[including UI polishing and extending plug-ins] and matter of time.
Posted on 17 May, 2010 - 10:23