Interviewed by Justin D Williams
Otakus & Geeks had a chat with Marla Rausch CEO of Animation Vertigo and the woman leading the charge, spent countless hours with her workforce of more than 50 Filipino artists located in Manila. Together, they created the cutting-edge technology that makes the game so unique, providing the running, jumping, crouching, crawling and more.
Otakus & Geeks: Can you take us back to the very beginning of Animation Vertigo? How did you get the company started and what got you into capture and animation?
Marla Rausch: I started in mocap in 2000 when I first learned how to do motion capture tracking. I happened upon it when one day I was waiting for my husband to get done with work - he was working on mocap in LA. I was curious about what he was doing, so I picked it up. After that, I would get hired to freelance when there was crunch time - I enjoyed the change of pace from my financial planning work. Ultimately, it led to the creation of Animation Vertigo.
Otakus & Geeks: How would you best describe the goals of Animation Vertigo?
Marla Rausch: To be the go-to team when you need anything done for motion capture, be it video games, film or TV. To have the best companies in motion capture turn to Animation Vertigo for their motion capture animation needs because they know we’re reliable, dependable and great at what we do.
Otakus & Geeks: Building a company from the ground up is never an easy task. What were some of the initial challenges of getting Animation Vertigo up and running?
Marla Rausch: Well, there were a lot of challenges: you and your team need to be capable and reliable; determining how not to grow too big too quickly, and at the same time, be able to cope with the needs of a demanding gaming industry; finding good people you can trust while being 7,000 miles away to do the right thing and what’s good for the company and the animators; add that to the usual start-up challenges of companies with external offices, and it was quite a task. Fun though.
How many Filipinos from Manila are on your workforce? How important was it to bring jobs to your home country and also give a platform to all of these artists?
Marla Rausch: We have a team of 50 people in Manila right now, all of them proud to be working on games they never thought they would have. I never thought an opportunity like this would have been available, but in this day and age where technology and trade gave rise to the chance, I thought it was an avenue for artists in my former home country to work in the challenging world of video games and show their talents and skills in this industry. I think it has worked well for everyone involved, especially when the demand for more cinematic animation and manageable budgets are becoming ever more important as the cost of game development increases.
Otakus & Geeks: Let’s talk a little bit about some of the projects Animation Vertigo has worked on. Recently the company worked on the hit videogame Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Can you tell us what role you and the company played in the project?
Marla Rausch: It has been really great working with Activision on their Call of Duty titles, we’re very proud to be a part of that team especially when the demands for more realistic, action-packed and cinematic animation is required. We make sure the motions they worked hard to get on the motion capture stage is faithfully recreated for the game, and make sure interactions with the guns, props and sets look good. You don’t ever want to look at a character on the screen and see that something didn’t look right with the rest of the characters.
Otakus & Geeks: There are robots in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare how did you get the robots to move so fluid with the movements it’s really impressive?
Marla Rausch: The work with the motions are really a collaboration between our technical artists, we make sure we get the moves from stage looking great, then Activision’s animators ensure that it becomes the impressive shots that they’re proud of and everyone enjoys.
Otakus & Geeks: Motion Capture Technology is slowly but surely becoming the standard in entertainment. We’re seeing a lot more movies using this technology for their films. Videogames have been one of the main driving forces of motion capture. However we’re starting to see this in our appliances, phones and many more. Where do you see motion capture and the animation industry going in the next few years?
Marla Rausch: It’s so interesting seeing where motion capture has been utilized and how it improves as the technology behind it gets better and better. We see motion capture expanding and creating new ways for directors and actors to get more involved, driving the creation of the story, pretty much like live-action. In the life-science industry, I see it being utilized more as the technology gets more funding for study and research – motion capture had its start in that field after all.
What advice can you give to anyone looking to get into the Motion Capture field? What does your company look for in an employee?
Marla Rausch: These days, there are a lot more opportunities to find a good animation school that can help prepare people to get into the field. Networking is also an essential thing, meeting people in the industry gets you exposure, friends and hopefully someone you can ask industry questions. We look for people passionate about creating and are enjoying the technical side as well. A person with a background in keyframe animation would be good, having a good eye on how things move and paying attention to detail is necessary but most of all a team player, because that’s what makes the work fun – the people around you who you’ll be working with, in close quarters, for long hours at a time.
What is up next for Animation Vertigo?
Marla Rausch: With the boom of VR/AR, we have been working on a few VR projects and anticipate that we would be doing more. At some point, I like to think that we’d have a chance to do something on our own.
For more information on Animation Vertigo visit http://www.animationvertigo.com/