How creativity and craftsmanship advances awesome animation

Sharing and gaining knowledge is an important part of the continued development of all creative industries. At Funday Factory, we value all initiatives to share insights and expand networks both within the gaming industry and across industries - often leading to great partnerships and collective growth.

Therefore, it was a great pleasure for us to co-host the conference Amazing Artwork for Small Screens which was part of this year’s Viborg Animation Festival. The conference tackled the question of how to make epic art and visually stunning game experiences for low-end devices. Discussing this delicate balance between craft, theory and technical possibilities is essential in making digital experiences of the highest quality.

“Viborg has one of the best animation schools in the world with an impressive academical level, so it made good sense for us to engage in Viborg Animation Festival by co-hosting an afternoon about high-end graphic and artwork for small screens.”

Tine Kærgaard Knudsen, Event & Business Development Manager at Funday Factory

Among the speakers was both an entrepreneur, who built a dollhouse in a garage before making it a BAFTA award winning digital game, and a former CEO of media conglomerate Zodiak Kids sharing insights on the future of kids animation. The diversity of the talks provided a wide variety of insights within different aspects of animation in games - from really specific technical methods to deeply creative visions.

Amazing Artwork for Small Screens was held in collaboration with Interactive Denmark Vest, Create Converge and Viborg Animation Festival.

Get highlights from the conference and all the talks below.

“For things to remain the same, everything must change” by Jean-Philippe Randisi, former CEO of Zodiak Kids

Jean-Philippe Randisi brought all of his insightful wisdom from multiple decades within kids animation production. He talked about the past, present and future of kids’ media landscape and media consumption with a special focus on the development of animation programmes. Today, kids are moving away from animation sooner and sooner. But is this a result of changed viewing habits or a result of fewer animation programmes being produced? Especially the female audience switches to live-action earlier than ever before. Animation still dominates kids broadcasting, but the exact numbers varies significantly from country to country. In the video, Jean-Philippe shares his experiences and thoughts on the development of animated content for kids.

“From Paper to Pixel: Handcrafted games” by Katherine Bidwell, Co-founder & Producer at State of Play

What can digital game developers learn from working with handcrafted materials? This was one of the key questions in the talk by Katherine Bidwell from State of Play - the studio behind award-winning games like Lumino City and INKS. Katherine told the story of how the world of Lumino City is essentially a dollhouse that her and her small team built with exquisite detail in a garage in London. The handcrafted design is what gives the game its’ unique look and feel. Building and crafting things gives a great sense of the physicality of things like movement, shadows, water, ink, colours and so on. Those insights are great for the game design and art process. As Katherine says: Our games have to have soul!

"Plastic Fantastic" by Jan Roed Thastum, Art Director at Funday Factory

Our very own art director, Jan Roed Thastum, gave a technical talk about lighting and shadowing in 3D animation using the rather simple tool of Matcaps. The challenge of making visually stunning artwork for small screens is often af technical one. If you make games for mobile devices, they have to have very small download sizes and perform well on all devices – even old ones. Matcaps is a rather simple and cheap way of making great lighting and shading for 3D animation - something that is usually difficult on low budget projects.

“Immersion, Expression and Animation in Games” by Ricardo Ramos Lima, Lead UI Artist at Ubisoft Abu Dhabi

Coming all the way from Ubisoft Abu Dhabi, Ricardo Ramos Lima brought his insights on the important role of animation within storytelling and player immersion. According to Ricardo, talks about immersion in games often revolves around story and characters, but he believes animation is an overlooked aspect. The details of the visual expression is a vital part of making games look the way that they feel to play. Everything needs to make sense - and animation is the key. Hear how Ricardo explains it in the video.

To wrap it all up, the speakers provided the audience with knowledge of many different aspects relevant to the world of animation production. From industry numbers and foresights to putting just the right light and shadowing onto an animated turkey - the broad palette of topics provided very interesting insights. All in all, the message of the day was one of creativity and exploration. Taking chances and trying to do something different with animation has proven to be something that both users and the big media conglomerates respect and admire. The methods of publishing and spreading creative content have never been better, so the future for innovative and visionary animation looks bright.

To us at Funday Factory, the conference confirmed the importance of sharing knowledge and learning from others with different viewpoints than your own. The outcome was lots of new knowledge, great networking, and bunches and bunches of inspiration.

Published: October 5th, 2018

Want to know more about the conference?

Get in touch with Tine if you have any questions regarding the Amazing Artwork for Small Screens conference or any of our future events.

Tine Knudsen
+45 60 22 93 42