Q & A with David Allen, Computer Animator
What is your educational background, and how did you get interested in computer animation?
I have always been inclined toward drawing and math, but eventually decided on gaming because I enjoyed it so much in high school. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art for Computer Graphics and Multi-Media at Pratt Institute.
I found my job at 1st Playable Productions through volunteering at events produced by the New York City chapter of the International Game Development Association (IGDA).
When I met Steve Derrick of Vicarious Visions, a speaker at an IGDA event, I told him I wanted to work on educational games. He introduced me to Tobi Saulnier, founder and CEO of 1st Playable, a start-up company with a vision for developing educational content. I applied for a job there and was hired to create artwork in handheld children’s games.
Tell me about a favorite project.
My favorite project by far is Rio DS, a musical game spinoff from the animated film Rio by Blue Sky Studios. First, I had the pleasure of working with a great team, from the amazing people at 1st Playable to the creative department at Blue Sky Studios. Everyone made this an inspiring experience for me. Second, as a Puerto Rican raised in Columbia, I also thoroughly enjoyed being involved in a Latin musical rhythm game where I was able to give personal creative feedback on the audio.
Any advice for students?
I highly recommend getting involved in professional communities like the IGDA. It’s the best way to meet people, make connections, and find the companies that are right for you. Two other great groups for digital artists are ACM SIGGRAPH (Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) and the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts).
To develop art skills, I recommend drawing from observation. There is something deeply communicative and tangible about drawings made from real life. They really stand out and strengthen your portfolio, which is ultimately what gets you hired.
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