Sunday, February 28, 2010

Long Time No Write.

It's been damn near a year since I've written here in my blog and what a year it's been. Early 2009 I thought the world was about to end with our new business struggling in such a tumultuous economy. In an amazing turn of events, I was offered a position at Naughty Dog, Inc, a very popular Sony owned game studio as their Cinematics Lighting Artist. It was difficult to let go of one of my dreams but in hindsight, it was the best decision I have ever made. This company fits me like a glove. These guys are talented, highly motivated and have a open, non-political, all-hands on approach to production. Now that we're clearing some management debris, this could be the best job that I've ever had. So why is it so different from film?

The first and most important advantage that games have over film is job stability. Nobody at Naughty Dog is currently worried about being laid off due to a lack of work. I'm not talking about laying people off for product performance issues or studio closures, I'm talking about between-project downtime. It's slow right now at the studio but instead of laying off all the talent and re-hiring at the peak of production, NDI keeps us on, allowing us to experiment with new looks and technology. This is a big reason why game tech is outpacing film tech ten fold but that's a whole other article.

The other part of games that make it more fun than film is recognition. I know it's not suppose to matter but it just does. I have never met so many crazy, enthusiastic fans or signed so many autographs. It makes all the hard work much more gratifying and motivates me to create the best possible product. It's definitely a work-hard/play-hard industry and I love that.

There is a downside to working in games (at least as far as Naughty Dog). The production schedule is so frantic and the technology is so limiting that I can't produce the quality work that I'm used to. I enjoy the fine tuning phase of Lighting and we just aren't allowed that liberty time-wise. It's something we'll have to work out as a studio in order to schedule Lighting a bit more time to tweak but it's certainly a survivable drawback.

2010 and Beyond:

Ironically, I had always had issue with the way Naughty Dog offices appeared. For a successful game company, we had a somewhat hole-in-the-wall studio space. I used to tell friends that "it's fun working there, but not much to look at". That has all changed as of this week. We have taken over an entire floor of the Water Gardens building in Santa Monica and our new offices are stunning. I'm totally excited about going into work tomorrow and getting settled in. In the new space, there is an amazing new opportunity for me to work and learn from my peers without restriction and I couldn't be more happy about that.

In other super exciting news, me and my wife made an offer on a beautiful house in Thousand Oaks that was accepted just last week. We have a 45 day closing period with a lot of work to do in between but it's looking pretty good. I can't wait to have my own office space at home!

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