Womenize! Wednesday Weekly is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Lana Bachynski, Senior Animator at Blizzard Entertainment. Read more about Lana in this interview:
Hi Lana! You are a Senior Animator at Blizzard Entertainment and have worked at the studio for over five years now. You originally started out as an intern, can you tell us a bit about what led you to your current position?
Starting out as an intern I was really fortunate to get a good glimpse as to what a future looks like in game development. Going to university was a fantastic way for me to study animation, but it didn’t really prepare me for the vast amount of baseline ‘life skills’ that would play such an integral part to getting me where I am now. During my internship, I was able to get a taste of the collaborative nature of this team, so I had a different approach to my last few semesters of school. Getting that insight early, and then having the chance to practice in a low-stakes environment at school ensured that when I was invited back full-time after graduating, I was ready to hit the ground running. As with anyone, there have been some bumps along the way, but I truly believe the work I’ve done trying to listen to my colleagues and actively collaborate has been equally as important as the animation work I’ve done in regards to the success I’ve found in my career so far.
What should be the first focal point for an aspiring animator that wants to work in the games industry?
I feel like aspiring artists of all varieties have heard the phrase ‘develop your portfolio’ so much by this point, it’s probably begun to lose meaning. So instead, I prefer to put forth that aspiring artists and animators ‘develop their vocabulary’. Creating a comprehensive portfolio is a part of that, sure, but it goes a lot deeper than the work you put on your website. Developing a vocabulary in the games industry is playing, analyzing, and understanding games and the culture that surrounds them – and it’s something I wish I had done a lot more of in my early career.
Things like: Studying games that defined genres (and why!), studying games that critically failed (and why!). What role did art play in the success or failure of these games? What would I have done to make it better? What are the disciplines that go into making a video game, how do they work together, and where does my role as an animator fit into things? Understanding the language of collaboration, practicing the soft skills that make working in a team environment both possible and efficient… There is so much that is awesome and valuable to explore within the industry that isn’t found by polishing in-betweens, and developing a vocabulary that reflects your knowledge of these things will only benefit you as you take the first steps into your career.
As a co-founder of Tea Time Animation you are actively working on bringing animation students and veterans together. What changes would you like to see when it comes to the cooperation of the games industry as a whole?
It’s actually something I’m seeing around more and more, but I’m a big advocate of thoughtful succession planning, knowledge sharing, and the growth and well-being of the next generation of developers. The industry can support these ideals in many ways — obvious choices are things like internships, and allowing your team the flexibility to hire and train-up from associate positions — but I love to see when devs and employers go beyond: sponsoring local game jams, working alongside youth-oriented organizations (like the incredible Girls Who Code), hosting summits online for accessibility (AnimX, GameDev.World) and generally just educating, inspiring, and creating equal opportunities for the talent that will be leading our industry someday.
We appreciate your insights, thank you so much Lana!
WWW Feature by Anne Zarnecke