Who's this Klanger? An interview with Paula Cal, 3D Animator
July 28th, 2020
Paula has been an animator for ten years, involved in a variety of projects in games, VR, commercials and TV. Growing up sitting in front of Grandma´s TV set and VCR, going frame by frame through Disney movies and copying them on paper, has left her with a great passion for animation… and glasses!
Paula, how are you these days, working from home?
My dogs are loving this home office thing, and it’s nice to be around them more! So I really can’t complain about working from home!
What is your role at Klang?
I am a 3D animator here at Klang. Animators are in charge of making the characters alive through movement.
How did you come to the field of 3D animation?
I have always wanted to be an animator, but ended up attending film school first, and getting an editing degree. I really wasn’t sure about the career opportunities in my country regarding animation, so I got a job as an editor. But I couldn’t stay away from animation [laughs]! So I started taking 2D hand-drawn animation courses at first, and that later evolved into animation school and finally AnimSchool, which I’m so proud of.
I started with small projects in Argentina, met the most talented and incredible people, who now are my family (I even ended up marrying one of them). Those people helped me grow both personally and professionally.
My last projects back in my country make me really proud, because of the people involved and the quality of the work.
How did you find out about SEED and what triggers you most about the project regarding your 3D animation interests?
I was looking for more growth opportunities outside of Argentina, and came across the ad for the animation position. Having attended a German highschool in my country, I felt a special connection to Berlin and its way of life. But it was the project’s vision that finally convinced me to send my application. The idea of exploring collaboration for survival, as well as the talented people involved in the project, left no room for doubt.
What are you currently focusing on? Do you face any challenges?
We have been working on the combat and creature outline, as well as defining the overall structure of the animation department, as we get consensus on some major pillars needed for the game to work. I’d say my biggest challenge so far has been to adapt my more film/tv mindset to a more technically restricted workflow for games. But I’m getting there!
What programs or other tools are you working with on a daily basis? Any new exciting discoveries?
I use mostly Maya for animation. And we are getting some very cool tools from tech art that allow us to have a better workflow. I’ve been also getting into rigging lately, that has been exciting for me, as it allows me to be a part of the previous stage in the pipeline, and to really see the cables and wires of the character/asset development process. Feels like a long way from the 2D animation light table!
Can you explain the steps you or your team undertake towards implementing a new feature for the game?
We’ll get a brief from Game Design explaining what they need, and double check with Engineering about the limitations, and Art Direction for their brief as well. Depending on the complexity of the animation, a few thumbnails to outline the action might be enough, if not, it’s time for video reference! (we can use YouTube but it’s more fun and silly if we just record ourselves! [laughs]). Next, a first pass in Maya. Following an implementation in game to assess if the idea works. If not, back to thumbnail/video reference. If it does, back to Maya and it’s time for polish! And then, once that’s done, we have the final asset ready for the game.
SEED as a simulation, do you aim to animate as close as possible to reality?
Though it is a simulation, we try to have it both realistic and aesthetically pleasing. This is why we are not using mocap animations and everything is done in keyframe. The animation is stylized realism.
What do you enjoy most animating the Seedlings and the environment on Avesta?
I really enjoy animating action/pantomime. To be able to communicate emotions and actions without dialogue, and also with a very minimalistic art style is both challenging and so inspiring.
What were the first ideas you worked on animating in 3D? Have you overall been mostly intrigued by characters?
Yes, I have mostly worked on characters and creatures in my career. I have always felt captivated by their motion and how their thought process translates to their bodies. Weight, arcs, anticipations… there are so many beautiful variables involved in making a character seem alive.
Whose work or project inspires you? How do you deepen your skills?
Aaron Blaise blows my mind, I could watch him work for hours. Such a talent and simplification of the art form. For my skills I watch tutorials and do online workshops. I also try to tackle small scale tests to keep me motivated and learning.
Do you work on any side-projects at the moment?
My wife and I, who is a 3D Artist, are currently working on a project for a friend. Her son is autistic and he creates these wonderful colorful characters, that are a mix of animals. We are bringing them to life with some models and animations, to go along with some sweet songs that another artist recorded for him.
What games do you play?
I’m really into platformer games, currently playing Gris, which is a piece of art. I also really enjoyed Celeste. But it takes me a long time to finish them, cause I keep getting distracted by the art and dying [laughs]!
Animation comes from the Latin, animare, which means bring to life. What does animation (also) mean to you?
Animation means everything to me! It gave me my family, and also the opportunity to travel and meet new people.