Animating Rocket Ships for NASA: One graduates story

Animating Rocket ships for NASA? As an Animation or Game Development student, this sounds like the ultimate dream, but for one of our graduating students, it became a reality. 

Okan Beyit secured a contract working with Chronica Creative on the interactive museum experience titled Neighbourhood Earth. This was a project produced in partnership with the United States Space and Rocket Centre and NASA.

Working as a 3D generalist, his role involved modelling, texturing and world building for cinematic sequences as well as interactive real time applications. Coming across the position on a Facebook Group named Aus3D, the project involved working on a variety of asset types ranging from vehicles to spacecraft, to procedurally generated landscapes.

“To ensure the accurate representation of the science behind the exhibition we would be in frequent communication with engineers and planetary scientists. It was an insightful experience and I really enjoyed learning from the wealth of information that was provided to us, ranging from the unique geological formations on Mercury to the orientation and revolutions of the Cassini spacecraft.”

“I really enjoy producing 3D art and having the opportunity to do this professionally means I get to work with people who are just as passionate about their craft. Being able to share my work with other artists, get their insight and critique each others work has been an invaluable and very enjoyable experience.”

Okan describes how the most important thing he has learn since working in the industry, is the importance of being able to separate yourself from your work and looking at it objectively. “In a team there will be several people working towards a unified vision and in order to deliver a successful product and to develop and grow as an artist it is really important to recognise that there is always room for improvement.”

okanwork300.jpgOriginally attracted to JMC’s Game Design course because of its broad syllabus, Okan discussed how “Without knowing what I wanted to specialise in and the direction I wanted to take my career, it was enlightening to be able to study a variety of subjects. Through this I found I really loved producing environment art and was able to tailor my learning to take me in that direction. I think having an understanding of a range of disciplines ultimately gives you a stronger foundation on which to specialise and makes you more employable. While you may not use the skills taught in every subject directly in your everyday work, they can improve the quality and useability of what you are producing. As an example, rigging was one of the subjects I studied. While I have no intention of pursuing rigging as a career, ultimately my models are better as a result of having studied it. I now have an understanding of how meshes deform and how to hold their shapes with a tailored edge flow. Therefore it is not only beneficial for me but also for others in the production pipeline.”

The connections made during your studies can be invaluable, both as friendships and industry connections. Okan believed this to be one of his favourite thing about studying at JMC. “ I met a lot of great and very talented people while studying and I am still in touch with classmates and former teachers. We act as a support network for each other, bounce around ideas and introduce contacts whenever job opportunities arise. I also had a lot of really insightful feedback from my teachers while studying. From this I am now able to look at my own work with a critical eye, identify areas and skills that need to develop and address that.”

Okans 3 pieces of advice for you. 

1.    The first bit of advice would be to find what it is that you love to do. If you are producing something you love then you will be able to invest the time to develop in that area and actually enjoy what you are doing. Having a specialisation will also make you stand out from others in your discipline. If you are good at modelling and lighting but able to produce breathtaking textures, that is the part that people will remember, the exceptional.

2.    In saying this make sure your folio highlights that skill set. It should represent the very best of your work and  demonstrate what you are capable of producing at this point in time. Therefore don't wait until you are in your final semester to start compiling work, start now. Your folio isn't the end of your story, rather it is the current chapter. As you develop and tackle more complicated projects, take down the old ones and replace them with the new.

3.    My final piece of advice is not to give up! Not landing a job as soon as you graduate is part of the reality of working in 3D for the majority of people. If you keep practising, developing, sharing your progress and developing a presence it's not a matter of if you will get a job but when.

Find out more about studying Game Development or Animation at JMC Academy.