The days of animating digital puppets that dance on the ends of virtual strings are a thing of the past. Real people move through the spaces of our games now. To turn them into the heroes that you play, and the villains that you fight, we must capture the performances of the actors who portray them. This evolving process relies on the rare skills of this young lady…
Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?
My name is Rachel Swavely and I am Mocap/Rigging Tech Artist here at Bungie. This means I get to put people in those sexy spandex suits covered in reflective markers and capture their performances. Then I get to take it through the pipeline all the way to handing it off to the animators.
That sounds like tremendous fun. We’ll definitely learn more about your work, but only after we get better acquainted. What might we find you doing when you are not animating the actors we lure into our studio?
I love the outdoors, video games (of course), movies, theme parks, traveling around the world, meeting new people and anything that creates an amazing memory.
Do you have any amazing memories of your pre-Bungie career? What were you doing before your world-travels led you to the Spandex Palace?
More Motion Capture! In Los Angeles, I worked as a Capture Operator at one of the biggest studios for mocap in the world. The people that taught me were some of the people that were around since the beginning of motion capture. They improved my skills tremendously.
You’re dealing in some cutting edge technologies that are still very new, so it would be hard for you to tell us that you always dreamt of doing this. What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?
A cartoon! I had and still have a huge imagination.
That actually makes a lot sense, given the work you’re doing now. How did you prepare yourself for a job that lets you turn people into pixelated characters?
I got a Bachelors Degree in Computer Animation and an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts. Problem solving skills would be at the top of my list of preferred skills. Most everything I learned in college still resonates in my mind. It just takes seeing it again to bring the knowledge back.
Joining our team is a challenge that requires a lot of problem solving. How did you overcome the first hurdle of getting our attention in the first place?
When I was in Los Angeles, three Bungie employees (now colleagues) came down the studio where I was working to see how we ran our shoots and get some training. I assisted with both of these. Guess I made an impression! They sure made a magnificent impression on me!
What was the hardest part about making an equally magnificent impression on the people who sat in on your interview loop?
Not going and hugging Master Chief in the Hallway.
That was a wise choice. The Chief is not much of a hugger, but there are other rewards for working here. Which ones do you enjoy?
All of them! I am surrounded by incredible talent everywhere! Plus there are the times when I get to put on one of the mocap suits and run around the Spandex Palace and get my moves recorded!
Is that your favorite part of the job? Or are there are other things about being at Bungie that you prefer?
Have you seen the kitchen filled with food!! Just kidding, even though this is an amazing perk, my favorite perk is my colleagues. They get to pick my brain about what I know and vice versa. Learning from them has broadened my knowledge, which makes me a better artist.
What is your favorite accomplishment as a member of the Bungie team? Describe that one moment in which someone appreciated your work, and assured you that you belonged here…
Wish I could but it is top secret. Makes me feel like a spy or CIA agent, until the big reveal of what we are working on.
Tell me about it. There are a lot of secrets to keep, right now. One thing that’s not a secret is that everyone at Bungie needs to be constantly striving to be better at what they do. How do you meet this challenge?
Learning all scripting languages and keeping up with Motion Capture software and hardware. Technology is always changing; have to be in the know.
If someone decided that they wanted to join you on that forefront of evolution for animation technology, what advice would you give them?
For the Motion Capture industry part of my career my advice is learn as much as you can about all the software and hardware out there that captures motion. Then pick up skills like animating, rigging and scripting.
It’s time for me to finish capturing your performance with this final question: Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.
All of these valuable traits are equally important. I am a firm believer about nothing is impossible, but ranking these three would be extremely difficult.
I guess we'll be left to solve this problem on our own. If you'd like to discover the answer to this question, check out the Bungie Careers page. We need all kinds of professionals to become Rachel’s coworkers. They will come in all shapes and sizes, and from many different backgrounds. To learn more about the various players that complete Team Bungie, there are profiles of just about every sort in the Breaking In