Adventures in Animation with Tony Gaddis

Tony Gaddis is a long-time animator at KingsIsle who has worked on a variety of projects we're familiar with in the Spiral, and some that we don't know of yet. He frequently shares his creations, professional and recreational, on his Twitter account here.

Meet the Artist

Hello! I'm Tony Gaddis and I'm one of the Senior Animators at KingsIsle Entertainment. I've worked at KI for ten exciting years!

I've mostly created animations for our popular massive multiplayer online game, Wizard101, which includes a 2D tower defense game called Grub Guardian. I have also helped out on other games such as Pirate101, AlphaCat and various unreleased projects.

A typical day at work for me usually starts out with a nice, big, hot, cup of coffee. (Mmmmmm coffee.) After that, I look over my tasks for the day and prioritize what needs to be worked on based on upcoming milestones.

Most of my tasks come from either the design department, writing or from the head of the art department. The characters are then drawn, modeled in 3D, skin and clothing are added and finally on to me. I tell the character how and what body parts should move and then animate it. For example, writing creates a new race of characters called the Beast Men. The concept artist creates a pretty image for everyone to look at and use as reference. The character modelers model and texture the Beast Men, then pass it on to me for rigging and animating.

Example of adjusting verts while skinning a character

Animation Inspiration

Before I begin animating, I talk to writing to try and get a better sense of the personality of the characters, ie. are they angry, happy, rebellious, scared, etc? Then I try and find references on YouTube or in books for the motions I'm looking for. For example, if he needs an angry walk, I try to find someone stomping around angrily. Once I have my animation planned out, I start animating in a 3D program called 3D Studio Max. Here I create all the poses needed for the character to come to life. I manipulate the timing, adjust keyframes and smooth out curves on the graph editor as needed until the character feels like they are moving they way I want them to move.

After all of the animations are completed for that character I export it to our game engine where the designers and programmers can add it to various locations throughout the game.

Example of the Beast Men angry walk cycle

These are exciting times we live in and being an animator continues to be an extremely satisfying and rewarding journey for my spirit. I get to express my creativity, study motion, movement, timing and most of all, I get the rewards of hearing and seeing people enjoy the work I create. It brings me a lot of joy to have a goofy idea of an animation and then seeing someone's comments on social media like, "OMG! I LOVE THIS!".

Thanks to Swordroll for this invitation to be a guest blogger.

See you in the Spiral!

Thanks to Tony for this post!

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