Steve Dyck – Lead Animator 343 Industries

I’ve recently been watching ‘Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn’ on Machinima and falling in love with the short leading up to the release of Halo 4. If you haven’t seen it already then you should really check it out, even if you aren’t interested in Halo, it’s got a great narrative and way of showing it as well as being interesting to see where shorts are going and developing towards even on the internet.

Here’s a link to the first episode on the Machinima YouTube channel.

After watching those, I’ve been checking up on how Halo 4 has been developing. I’ve been incredibly tempted to purchase more and more with each thing I watch about the newest installment of the Halo universe. I know a lot of people who are and aren’t excited for it and I may be bias due to my love for the previous Halo games and how Halo Combat Evolved was the first shooter I was really passionate about on the Xbox. Out of interest and general passion I thought about looking into the people behind the game in terms of animation. To inspire myself and to educate myself in the difference between film animation and games animation I looked into some of the animators within 343 and Halo 4. I found it to also be a good time to ask about some of the points I’m looking at within my dissertation and current modules. Here’s the great response I got from Stephen Dyck, currently Lead Animator for 343 Industries.

“Hey Chris, thanks for the email and I’m glad you are looking forward to Halo 4! Yeah as you know animation is a lot of work so to me the biggest thing I tell people is that you have to be passionate about it. If you aren’t passionate about it, it becomes difficult to invest the time and energy you need to do great work.

In terms of believability for the character that really comes down to the style / world your character is in and the character(s) them self. So in terms of that the world has rules within it (ie gravity) and your characters has rules (ie. heavy / slow-witted / aggressive). When you take the rules of your world and the rules of the character you have you can make informed decisions about what is believable for your character. Hope that makes sense.

In terms of film / TV vs games I really just look at them as different types of experience. The nice thing about film and TV is you have a locked camera and know what you are animating to, with gameplay animation the animation can be seen from any number of angles so you have to make decisions that support that. All animation experience helps, whether you are just dabbling on your own project or working on someone else’s stuff. Just soak it all up like a sponge and enjoy the learning process. I’d say that even mocap can be a great learning experience for animators. Seeing how the body settles, distributes weight “realistically” can be a real eye opener that can be applied back to your keyframe work.

Anyway Chris, thanks for the email and good luck!”

It was a great and very fast response from Steve and I’m very grateful and glad he could take the time out to respond to my email. With an interesting and diverse background as well as an exciting current position it was great to get this sort of insight into the animation world of gaming and some confidence in where I am going and understanding in what I am doing.

Here’s a link to Stephen Dyck’s website.


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