Thursday, November 1, 2012

[GUEST POST] From the Perspective of Sagan Yee


Animator Sagan Yee is the moderator for DIG 2012's panel, "Press ‘A’ To Jump," co-presented by TAAFI, the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International. Sagan will guide the discussion as panel participants explore the importance of animation, design, and storytelling in game design and development. Below, Sagan shares her own perspective on the panel and on the industry:

   The panel we will be holding at DIG, "Press 'A' to Jump," is somewhat of an encore. It was first presented at TAAFI (Toronto Animation Arts Festival International), where it was one of two game-related events in the schedule. Our four panelists- Matt Hammill, Ryan Creighton, Cathy Feraday-Miller and Jay Edry- and I, myself, mostly got our start on the animation side before transitioning into interactive media. It is for this reason that I'm very excited that the panel will play out with a different audience.

 My adventures in indie gaming began when I first moved to Toronto in June of 2011. I had just graduated from Sheridan's Classical Animation program and had zero solid job prospect. For some reason, I decided to Google "video games toronto" on a whim. The first link that came up was an application for a game-making incubator aimed at women who had never made a game before, and who had very little industry experience. It was called the Difference Engine Initiative, and it was run by local organization Hand Eye Society as part of the TIFF Nexus series of creative jams. I signed up because I had a lot of free time and curiosity, but I had no idea the extent to which my participation would change my life. Since then, I've met so many amazing people and been offered so many cool opportunities (including the chance to moderate a panel at DIG 2012!) that it seems astounding that only a year ago, I thought I would be working at Subway.

The indie world is an incredibly diverse habitat for art and animation, which is all the more fascinating considering that games are a medium in which creativity is often heavily influenced by economy. In the process of making my first game for DEI, a somber adventure tale called "Icarus," I discovered many of the subtle, challenging ways that 2D animation for games can differ from film or television. Many of these differences were things I had casually observed as a player, but taken for granted. For one thing, two frames can go a lot farther in games than in traditional animation. Even in an old-school pixel-art title like Chrono Trigger, which was and still is considered a blockbuster in terms of production values, you can usually count the number of frames in any given character action on one hand. A walk cycle might be four frames, a punch, slightly more or less. As Douglas Adams might say: That's not the reduction of it, that's the beauty of it.

Nowadays, games can and do look like anything their creators might wish; but as our panelists will tell you, whether your art style is made of polygons or looks like it was hand-drawn with ink and watercolor paint, special consideration must be given to user input and how the onscreen visuals are interpreted as part of the "flow" of gameplay. Our panelists will be addressing these sorts of artistic and technical challenges, as well as their experiences moving from linear, traditional forms of animation to the interactive medium. We hope to see you there!

Sagan Yee is a recent graduate of Sheridan College's Classical Animation program, where she made a four-minute film in Flash about a malfunctioning particle accelerator that causes mini black holes to consume Toronto. Her first introduction to Toronto's indie game community was as a participant and later co-coordinator of the Difference Engine Initiative, a woman-focused game-making incubator run by and the Hand Eye Society. Currently, Sagan divides her working life between the TIFF Film Reference Library, freelancing on a variety of projects ranging from kid's flash games, t-shirt designs, and animating on Disney's Motorcity. She spends her free time dabbling, scheming, and ruminating.

Interested in this panel? Register for DIG here

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