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Jason Tadeu, 3D Animator at Wildlife, believes that animation enriches the narrative of the games.


 

Today, in the entertainment industry, it's almost impossible to talk about producing any content for movies and TV without 3D animation. In the video game industry, animating or “giving life” to characters and scenarios in an engaging way is essential to ensure the player's immersion. “Animation comes in to tell the story, along with the other elements of the game”, explains Jason Tadeu, who works as a 3D Animator at Wildlife (at the São Paulo office, in Brazil) for a little more than one year. 

Jason is a veteran in the Brazilian animation market. He started his career at 16 years old, on an illustration internship in the studio of a former teacher. In addition to being an illustrator and animator (2D and 3D), Jason is also a teacher and filmmaker having worked alongside Oscar winners in the animation segment, and in the following paragraphs you'll get to know his story.

HARD BEGINNINGS, BUT BIG ACHIEVEMENTS

Jason grew up in the north zone of São Paulo and since he was a boy he has enjoyed drawing. As a child, he learned about a technical art course at a local school, and he didn't think twice. "I thought that as a technician I could get into the market. So I studied Visual Communication at Carlos de Campos and had my first contact with many drawing techniques, painting, art history classes, live model and so on”, he recalls.

One day, during this course, he was helping a friend in the creation of a character, and caught the attention of his teacher, who owned a studio. That's how, at the age of 16, he received an invitation for his first internship as an illustrator. 

After that, Jason was invited to work with digital photography and image editing at Birô Films, until an opportunity arrived at Briquet Filmes, one of the oldest producers of TV commercials in São Paulo. There, he worked as a 2D assistant. “I started with 2D and did animation assistance. At Briquet Filmes I started at the end of 1997 and stayed until 1999 working only with 2D animation. I did a lot of work for this production company. It's easier to count the work commercials on TV in which I did not participate”, he jokes.

In the 2D animation area, Jason gave a lot of assistance especially in advertising for TV.

“The animation market in Brazil has a very strong advertising base. When I started, in late 1997, we didn't have many other products to work with. Today, it's a different reality.”

Jason explains that he “had to look at what was being done in Hollywood and reproduce in Brazil, and in a shorter time frame and with limited resources.”

After leaving Briquet Filmes, in 1999, Jason began to work for Vetor Zero, where he stayed until 2012. There, he claims to have become a real animator, because it developed a lot in the animation planning process, and "how to produce more efficiently and with less mistakes".

Due to technological constraints in the animation sector in Brazil and the lack of quick access to information, in the late 90s, Jason and other artists noticed the need to show their projects differently.

“Me and many other artists participated in the process to change the way animation projects were presented to the market. We realized that our method was more agile and assertive, and other production companies noticed that.”

In other words, Jason and his colleagues presented an animation plan of the whole film to the advertising agencies, the animatic. "This was a very common process in other countries, but we didn't have this experience here”. Jason says that he implemented this process for the first time when he was still working as a 2D Animator around the year 2000.

The transition to 3D also happened at the same production company. “I decided to get to know this other tool because I felt I was missing something and I needed to catch up” As a 3D animator, still at Vetor Zero, he started working around the 3D layout as well – applying the assertive planning model. “We were constantly thinking about how we could improve the quality of the work, because we had very little time. We were always in a hurry.”

FROM STUDIOS TO CLASSROOMS AND ANIMATION CINEMA

After almost 14 years at Vector Zero the time had come for Jason to seek new horizons. In 2012, he was invited to teach at Axis, a Brazilian branch of Gnomon VFX, a school of animation, special effects and games, with headquarters in Los Angeles (USA). But before he started teaching, Jason also returned to the classroom and graduated in Cinema.

“I took all this expertise in movies to be able to teach in this school. For a year, I was a teacher of the traditional animation history and 2D animation. Then, I was invited to participate in an O2 Filmes [Brazilian film production company], a project called Que monstro te mordeu?, with Cao Hamburger [from Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum TV show].”

SO MANY PROJECTS

As the life of an animator is driven by projects, Jason was also a remote freelancer in productions in Russia and New York. "I doing everything at the same time", he says.

As the years went by, the Brazilian animation market started changing and what was almost exclusively advertising territory, became a place for the production of content (films, series and TV cartoons) – and that was a heavy load of animation to deliver.

“To get an idea, on average, a Senior Animator can produce in a week 10 to 15 seconds of animation – in a hurry. When I went to O2, the demand was very high and I had to deliver minutes per week.”

Once again, organization and planning were essential to prevent Jason from freaking out. “As I already came with this planning thing, of thinking about the type of strategy and how we could get the best out of the time we had, I became an Animation Supervisor on this O2 project.” In this new role, he worked on films with director Fernando Meirelles (who directed City of God) and Ricardo Laganaro, special effects specialist. He says he also met other incredible professionals there.

"After O2, the process of delivering great animation demands resonated well and I was invited to participate in another project at Mono Animation. There, the demand was greater than the previous studio and again, with a lot of work and more planning, everything went well."

Jason also did his own film, Cuco. The animated short film, which tells the story of a man leaving his comfort zone, entered the Cannes Film Festival (France) and also participated in the main short film festival, in São Paulo. Not only that, Jason's animation also debuted at an Italian film festival and Anima Mundi, in Brazil. Not bad, right?

CUCO_FEST (1)FROM BRAZIL TO THE WORLD – TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

Always looking to improve himself, Jason left Mono Animation and moved to Canada, where he worked at Bardel Entertainment for a year. “My mind opened up in a way it never did before. It was a different market, more mature. I was part of a team with 62 animators doing a single project. Back then, I told some Brazilian friends that there were more animators working with me than all over Brazil.”

After that time in Canada, Jason got a job offer at a Hollywood production company, Magnopus, whose CEOs are Alex Henning and Ben Grossman. Both won the Oscar in Best Visual Effects, in 2012, for the movie Hugo.

"I spent two years in Hollywood and then returned to Brazil, with my wife and young son. Back in São Paulo, I needed to go back to work and reorganize my life", he says. "That's when I was introduced by a friend to Wildlife, in 2019."

Wildlife_Jason-Tadeu_Oscars (1)

ANIMATION FOR GAMES: A NEW NARRATIVE

Jason's first experience with animation for games was Wildlife, former Top Free Games. “During my time as a teacher, I freelanced for TFG, back in 2013. At the time, I worked on the 'Chicken Run' game for mobile devices. It was a three-month project.”

Jason explains that working on animation for games is a different kind of thing. In this case, it's necessary to work with cycles, the so-called "idles", and combine each piece together in order to make sense.

“What caught my attention in this job was that now I had a new option of product to work with. When you are an animator in Brazil, you have to analyse which market you can operate in. I had advertising, content and now… games!”

Currently, Jason works with the Marketing Art team, promoting the games through animation. He explains that 3D animation for games has a very different aesthetic.

“When I arrived, I was still trying to understand how the art marketing sector worked. People are still understanding this process. What Wildlife is doing here is something very new, even for other studios”, he says.

“I feel that Wildlife is at the forefront of making Marketing Art, by setting up this whole structure. It's steps ahead of many other game developers, in this matter.”


The idea of ​​Marketing Art, as Jason explains, is to work specific elements of the game in order to enchant and encourage the player to download it. “We make mini commercials, from 15 to 25 seconds, developing ways to highlight characters and stimulate emotions to get the player's attention.”

3D animation in games is far from being just a simple “virtual make-up” feature. The animator needs to know how to tell the story of the game with movements, working alongside with sound producers, game designers and screenwriters.

“In Zooba, for example, each character has its own characteristic. If we don't show these personalities, we don't tell the story. Because in the end, you play a game based on that”, he says. “The animation comes in to tell this story together with the other elements of the game. For that, animated cinema is essential to bring these interactive issues together.”

I WANT TO BECOME AN ANIMATION. WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Jason explains that, today, there are many paths - especially when compared to the time he started. “We need to make an effort to learn it. Today, when a new software appears, sometimes you already have online tutorials for it. Back in my days, there wasn't. I had to go after books”, he recalls. “You need to ask yourself: what do you want to do? What resource do you have available? What do you already know?”

To wrap things up, the 3D Animator of Wildlife advises that the aspiring Animator has to be careful not to get carried away by the sea of ​​options within the career. “Don't try to do everything at the same time. Focus on something, initially, and specialise in it!"

The good news is that hard work really pays off, and Jason's story can prove that.

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