The Scoop - Reynard Droste

What Qualification do you have?
BA Honours Visual Communication – Specialising in 3D Animation and Game Design

When did you graduate?
Apr 2019

How have you witnessed the evolution of 3D animation throughout your career, and what do you believe are the most significant advancements that have impacted the industry?
In a time where AI is getting more and more advanced, it’s hard to ignore its impact on all fields including 3D Animation. A lot of what I do is finding easier ways to achieve great results and the emergence of AI tools in animation is amazing. In other fields you see a lot of people complaining and scared of what this technology can do, some even fear for their job security. So far in the animation field especially in 3D, I’ve only seen tools that improve workflow, things like adaptive posing where moving on body part affects the whole body as the AI finds the most natural pose for you while you position limbs. For the past two or three years I’ve been mainly working with motion capture and anyone in the field would tell you that building your own studio is very costly, but recent advancements with marker-less motion capture powered by AI is democratizing this subset of the animation industry.

Where do you work at the moment?
Red Thread Games

Could you share a project from your portfolio that you’re particularly proud of? What challenges did you face during its creation, and how did you overcome them?
Dustborn is a game I’m currently working on and it’s the longest project I’ve been part of. The biggest challenge I had to overcome was to create movement sets (Walking, running, turning etc) animations for a variety of unique characters using a small sample of mocap data. Basically spending a lot of time editing the data to make these animations that are functional but also fit the character’s personality and build.

Animation often involves teamwork. Can you talk about a project where collaboration played a crucial role? How did you effectively communicate and coordinate with other team members?
I think with our animation team we are a small team and get along well so we openly share our progress on tasks and get feedback from each other all the time. Every finished piece of animation is effectively a collaborative effort from the team even if a single person makes it.

What or who are your biggest influences and sources of inspiration when it comes to creating 3D animations? How do you incorporate these inspirations into your work?
I think that depends completely on the style I’m working on. A lot of the work I did before working for Red Thread Games was always inspired by a lot of people but mostly by Lee Jeong-Soo. After I joined Red Thread Games I started drawing inspiration from my co-workers Eivind Franord, Gard Svendsen and Ilef Boumeftah. When I started getting into motion capture I had a lot of help from people in the industry, people like Stuart Fahey at Ubisoft and Graham Qually at Beyond Capture gave me the motivation and guidance to keep going in this direction.

In 3D animation, there are technical and creative challenges. Can you share an example of a project that posed both types of challenges? How did you balance technical requirements with your creative vision?
I think the most creatively challenging thing I had to do was to use limited mocap data on multiple characters and still have them each look unique in their movements

Top 3 Podcasts?
Distractible, Critical Role (not really a podcast but I listen to it like one), The Bad Friends Podcast (Guilty pleasure)

Favourite bands?
Local bands like Shortstraw, Jeremy Loops and Mathew Mole.

The animation industry is constantly evolving. What current trends do you find most exciting, and how do you stay up-to-date with these trends to keep your skills relevant?
Markerless Mocap, I follow the companies working on this and always test these whenever a new version comes out. The results are far from industry standard tools’ quality but the advancement is worth keeping up to date with.

Reflecting on your time as a student, how did your educational experience prepare you for the professional world of 3D animation? Are there any specific skills or lessons that you still carry with you today?
I think Open Window helped me greatly with the initial skills I needed to develop as an animator, the lecturers were incredible resources we had at our disposal and I firmly believe we did not make enough use of them. It was much less about the skills we learned in class and more about the conversations we had after class when talking about the industry

After I graduated I kept learning new things and improved my skills on my own which is what everyone has to do in our industry. Though lessons I’ve learned were a lot more valuable to me while I was at Open Window, things like failing faster is something I learned in Game Design that stuck with me, the quicker we make the mistakes the quicker we learn from them. That idea is what kept me wanting to learn new things and experiment, trying new things shouldn’t be discouraged if they work you discover a new workflow and if they don’t then you no harm done so don’t be hesitant about just do it and learn from it.

Do you have any favourite free resources you can share?
Mixamo is great for free mocap animations. Mocappys on youtube is great for starting with motion capture Don’t be afraid to DM industry professionals, surprisingly a lot of them love to help and give out free tips and tricks

What’s your go-to creative snack?
I’m addicted to Cheese Curls

Do you have any favourite hobbies?
The obvious answer is gaming but I like going to the gym or just going hiking to switch off completely from things that remind me of work

What advice would you give to students who are just starting their journey in the field of 3D animation? Are there any key insights or lessons from your career that you wish you had known when you were starting out?
3D animation is a skill, the more you practice the better you get, it’s as simple as that. Don’t stop at just doing your assignments do something for yourself and test yourself. Even if you fail, you learn something and the next time will be better. Fail Faster!