Mike Hoffman is ready to breathe some life into our Breaking In interview this week. If you're interested in scoring a gig in animation, or you simply want to get to know one of Bungie's finest, Mike's ready to pull double duty. Reward his efforts by getting your read on.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. My name is Mike Hoffman and I’m an Animator currently working on Halo: Reach. My job is to help create the massive amounts of animation that go into making our characters feel alive. As with any Bungie game, the sandbox for Halo: Reach is massive and varied. Our characters need to be able to do so much to support all the situations, weapons, vehicles, environments and even AI states that they can find themselves in. Hopefully, through the intricate motion that the Animation team creates, we can make sure all of that is convincingly communicated to the player. Even if the individual animations are a smaller piece of a larger puzzle of believable characters, they are a very important part.
Q. When you're not breathing life into our worlds, what do you do to keep yourself busy?
A. I am a huge movie buff across all genres of film. I would say the type of movie I appreciate the most is the “blockbuster” (stupid critics). I play my fair share of games on Xbox LIVE till the wee hours of the morning with my friends at work and those at home in Florida. Recently I’ve been playing the little-known indie release “Halo 3” by Bungie. If you haven’t heard of it, or seen it in action, I wholeheartedly suggest you check it out. Some real good stuff there that most gamers may have passed over. I like to think of it as my own little “private getaway” on Xbox.
On the weekends I enjoying hiking and exploring the vast wilderness of downtown Kirkland (which actually involves me avoiding Soccer-Mom SUVs on the way to the beach). Hanging out with my friends is how I recharge during my downtime. Making games is hard, but the people who I make games with, and the relationships I have built with them, make it all worthwhile.
Q. What did you want to take up as a career when you were a wee lad?
A. I wanted to race cars. Fast ones.
Q. Obviously that didn't quite work out. Which direction did your high school guidance counselors try to steer you in?
A. It was in high school when I first got introduced to computer animation. During my senior year my guidance counselor recommended I take this new Computer Graphics class. I remember modeling and rendering a lamp for a class project. I was blown away by the reflections and shadows created by the computer. It was a combination of that class Jurassic Park and Toy Story that convinced me I needed to work in the Special Effects and Animation industry.
Q. So, you took to it straight away and went on to earn your college diploma in the field?
A. Yes. Well, no. At first I joined the working world in the exciting field of “Retail Management.” After a good amount of time taking home huge paychecks, signing autographs for groupies, and going to wild parties, I decided to settle down and finally pursue my true dream. I knew it would be a huge undertaking to almost literally start over from scratch, but I knew that I would only be happy if I did everything I possibly could to chase my dream.
I worked my butt off to learn absolutely as much as I possibly could in the shortest time possible. I felt like I had ground to gain and something to prove. I quit my job and received an Associate of Science in Computer Animation from Full Sail University in Florida and a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Character Animation from Animation Mentor. Best decision I have ever made!
Q. How did your studies and travels eventually lead you to Bungie?
A. I connected with Bungie at a Job Fair put on by Animation Mentor. I was able to speak with a Bungie representative in person and hand in my demo reel. About a month later I was contacted for a contract interview. I used that experience to get my foot in the door, show how much I could do and how hard I would work, and I parlayed that into a full-time interview.
Q. Since they already had your reel in hand, did you end up bringing anything else along to make sure you nailed the first interview?
A. I brought a lot of excitement, eagerness and a notebook to take notes. I also wore a good shirt. It was pretty snazzy.
Q. What mental notes did you make about the process that stand out when you look back on the interview loop?
A. I enjoyed hearing each interviewer talk a little bit about themselves, their background, and what they do for the team. Asking questions in an interview is one of the most important things you can do. As much as you want them to ask you to work there, you need to spend just as much energy making sure the job is one you want. Needless to say, I wanted the job, and was fortunate enough to get offered a position.
Q. In one sentence, describe what it’s like to work at Bungie now that you've got the gig.
A. It’s very exciting and challenging, but most of all fun!
Q. Any advice for aspiring applicants looking to take on a fun and exciting challenge at Bungie?
A. Only put your best work on a demo reel! If you’re interested in game animation show lots of animations with great body mechanics. There are also other ways to show acting other than lip sync animations. Acting through body language is huge! Show us your character is in a fight for their life while running and jumping or just lifting a heavy box. That kind of animation is much more relevant.
We see so many demo reels that standing out from the crowd is the most important thing. Keep the viewer interested using all the tools at your disposal. That is the difference.
Thanks to Mike Hoffman for putting in some good work this week for his Breaking In interview. If you're looking to stand out from the crowd and you have a brilliant demo reel ready to go (that showcases only your best work), we've taken all the challenge out of figuring out what jobs we have on offer. Just hit up our Career Opportunities
page and see if anything snazzy suits you. We're hiring.