Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Internship at DISNEY INTERACTIVE (2011-2012)

My placement at Disney Interactive Studios (DIS) ended in June 2012. A job in London that I had for a whole year!

There must be at least one post in my blog to talk about DIS.
I wasn't sure how to write it. It should tell potential employers about my experience and at the same time shouldn't give an unfair advantage to potential students who will apply for the placement.
I need to formally get it out there, as most people have the wrong idea of that job.
 Talking about it is like treading on thin ice, with all the secrecy papers, so I'm not gonna go in detail to  list everything.

Games industry is one of those creative fields that rely heavily on innovation. I felt very lucky to be part of it again, even though I am a 3d animation student and not a games student.

from my Linkedin:
Production intern credited on titles:

Disney Universe (2011)
a number of unannounced games

Assisted with and/or took responsibility for:

  • Art direction
  • Art and design feedback
  • Video work (final cut and aftereffects)
  • Concept art
  • Part of brainstorms for game and television properties

This work relates to AAA, iOS, and browser based games.
Sort of picked that from Louise. She has a way with words. :)

Why was I hired in the first place?
A number of factors, but it seems predominantly for
The game idea that I pitched, the ability to come up with and sell game ideas.
Working there helped me further develop the skill, that I didn't know I had!

Weaknesses before the experience at DIS:
The powerpoint that I submitted was lazy- with handwritten text, no layout, and using old artwork. In fact that game idea was revolving around the artwork and not the other way around as it should be. A game born out of a drawing.
My ideas might be good, but they were scattered in their presentation. I learned to structure them and focus the design on the aspect that makes the pitch special.

Honorary stuff
It's best to get these out of the way here, I guess.
My university honoured me with an academic excellence stage two award:

A Bulgarian newspaper wrote an article about me, based on an interview. It was to inspire other artists to study abroad. I shamelessly promoted Blender and open source software in the process :P

Things learned?
>My focus has shifted from technical execution to concept design.
A lot of students are lazy during preproduction (I know I was :D). They will think they have it completely figured out in their heads and will start modelling/animating right away.
What mostly changed in me after DIS is my approach. It now explores the concept much more before production begins.
In industry you have to make a concept of the whole thing in advance- as full as you can.
You need it  to see if it works, to convince others that it will work.
The act of writing it down helps you form it in your head.

 If you haven't convinced yourself that you know what you're doing, then don't do it. You Don't have to make others figure it out for you.

>Lots and lots of video editing. I'm still not brilliant at it, but after the internship and the feedback I got there, it's a skill that improved. Big part of the job was putting together trailers for games that are in production. Videos to get parties to invest some more money in the game and update people on it's progress. So you can imagine it's an important job. Recording and editing with final cut, compositing with after effects and photoshop.

>Marketing a game can be more expensive than it's production. There is a plethora of titles that studios around the world have almost completed but have never released to the public because by the time they reached completion they were no longer relevant. (Duke Nukem?)
Let's call that place the  graveyard of never released games.
Like in "The good the bad and the ugly", one of those graves must be full of gold!

That's not to say that anything like that happened during my time at DIS. It's just general knowledge. Everyone in industry knows about the graveyard. It's just a reminder that some of the stuff I was involved in might never get to be public. Let's hope thats not the case though..

some of the people I worked with/for:
Sorry that I can't mention everyone and sorry if you don't like to be mentioned (let me know, I'll edit it out).

Louise - She's the other production intern. We were sort of partners in production, working together on many of the tasks set by James, Al and the others. She's an awesome vector illustrator . Keep a watch for her concept art. :)
One of her old vector drawings

James (Art Director) - Being along side James  was great fun.
More than anything else, he is the art director there and working with him taught me a lot about  art direction, research, working with the developers, pitching, film making, etc...
He taught me how to open my mind for and seek inspiration, explore possibilities, settle just when the time is right.

AL (Design Director)
Al gave us assignments to come up with new game ideas using existing IPs.
It wasn't just about coming up with something new from the top of our heads. It revolved around doing the research, working within a team and spicing up the end presentation with relevant mockups and inspirational images. Come up with a lot of ideas and then pick out and combine the right ones.
 If I learned anything from him- that would be the importance of predicting what the next big thing would be, figuring out how to push people's buttons - the target audience and those who would fund the project. Picked up a few new swear words in the process too. :D

here is a cheesy picture from tumblr

The value of a company comes from the people that work there. With that thought I bid my farewell to the internship. It's the people that I will remember. More  so than the company name that everyone is associating me with now. So much that it still doesn't feel like I've left the mouse house. I bet thats how the previous interns feel.
Thank you for the great memories!

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