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February 15, 2014
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My Last of Us DLC scene by alexzemke My Last of Us DLC scene by alexzemke
I'm going to go ahead and post this here, because I animated it. The latter portion of Ellie and Riley's more intimate scene, starting with the shot where Ellie stops dancing, was my primary contribution to The Last of Us: Left Behind, the DLC that came out on Valentine's day.

You can see it here for now, maybe later I can update this link to a video on my own channel, once I've gotten my shots from the studio: youtu.be/YU0qz-dJna8?t=2m17s

The Last of Us Naughty Dog
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:iconthemajikalcocoa:
TheMajikalCocoa Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aww, it was such a cute scene, it made me feel so happy~

Then the damn Runners heard the music and crashed the party. ;  7  ;
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Then again, maybe that's a detail I was peripherally aware of at the start, but forgot about as the weeks wore on and I became too focused on the specifics to see the bigger picture anymore XD
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Professional Filmographer
You know, for two months I worked on that damn thing, over and over and over til we found the right balance for the scene, constantly changing what happened, and when, and how... yet it took gamers, after the fact, to point out to me that the song I'd been listening to for months was the thing that drew the runners to them. I feel so stupid!
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:iconsumiledon:
Sumiledon Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Whats the name of your job at SCEA?
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Professional Filmographer
"Animator" ;)
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:icontaylorsea09:
TaylorSEA09 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
AAAWWW So beautiful. :D
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Hahaha, thanks! :)
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:icontaylorsea09:
TaylorSEA09 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
You're welcome. :D
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:iconskaijo:
Skaijo Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014
Loved this scene, I hope you know that this work you collaborated on is a monumental jump forward in gaming and Western culture.

So did you work on the face stuff? Does one person get complete access to just one scene? How are the scenes distributed?
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Professional Filmographer
In Last of Us, animators were given sequences. Sometimes it would be an entire scene (if it was sort), but usually a section of a scene. Unlike many of our studio's other projects, for LoU the animators handled both body and face, instead of dividing that work between animators.
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:iconskaijo:
Skaijo Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
I've only ever done solo 2D projects with flash, I can only imagine how complicated it can be to not only animate in 3D--but having to do so in a team. 

Is there an significant concern to match a level of expression with other animators in the group?  Both in this project and in Uncharted, the animation quality isn't just high but so consistent that it felt like it was done by the same person.  Hey, what's the overall dynamic between the animation team, is it a tight knit group of familiar faces and friends?  Since you've done work with ND before, I hope that your workplace if filled with supportive people who've grown to know you.  Do you guys talk plan with each other before hand and during work--or is it more like receiving orders and you have the freedom to compile and turn in your files from any part of the world?  Hm, I guess while you're kindly answering questions, I'll quickly overstay my welcome:  So the mocap data only has rigging for bodily movement with no facial data, from what I could tell from behind the scenes footage.  I imagine then that even with camera footage of the actors, you have to really dedicate yourself to emoting character faces convincingly.  What state of mind do you put yourself in when you try to convey the emotions of the characters?  Did you ever find yourself getting tense or stressed out while animating a thrilling scene--or bummed out when you have to do a sad section that takes you multiple days to finish?
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Wow, lots to answer here, I'll do my best before bed.
Continuity is always a concern. We have libraries of several standard expressions that we will reference to keep the character "on model", and nowadays we have animators take entire sequences, rather than individual shots, in order to make that continuity easier to maintain.
The team of people I work with currently has formed over the course of years, but it is also always changing. Some longtime members eventually leave, while others who came on "temporarily" prove themselves invaluable, and stay on indefinitely.
We work together as a team, there is no telecommuting. In fact, I've yet to work for a professional studio where that's an option. And yes, planning is crucial to any animation effort.
Mocap only gives us the main body performance, correct. The resulting motion can be very high quality, especially in more recent years, but it always needs cleanup and repair, and the client often has performance changes they want made after shooting is over, and we have to make those changes happen seamlessly. There is no finger data or prop data, and all interactions with the environment must be made to work, often fighting against the mocap because the filming environment turned out to be very different from the one in-game.
In some projects we've worked with face data. in others, we've used software that essentially blocked in some basic movement to get us started faster, but the rest was up to us. Naughty Dog, on the other had, has (so far) used strictly hand-key face animation. We referred a lot to the footage shot when the actors were performing the scenes, though we also have directions to make changes to those performances, and always it's important to make the performance the most appealing and convincing it can be.
On that last one. Not really. Stressed over a scene in general? Sure. Bummed about how it's going? Yes. But those feelings aren't dictated by the emotions in the shot, at least not for me. Animation is a slow grind, and generally the animator's mood is influenced by how well the work is going, not by the character's feelings. That's been my experience, anyway.
Side note: In high-end animation, where the client stresses quality over speed, there are few things that don't take multiple days to finish ;)
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:iconskaijo:
Skaijo Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014
Well, I certainly learned a bunch.  Thanks for taking the time to answer all of my questions, me being just one tiny voice in the middle of the internet.  I really mean it though, this game's production meant a lot to me.  The Last of Us scratched an itch on my mind and heart that I've had for a while.  PS, just all around, you're a good person.
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Professional Filmographer
LOL, thanks!
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:iconkibate:
Kibate Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
You were involved with this? Nice.
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Professional Filmographer
:)
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:iconroguewriter3201:
RogueWriter3201 Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014
Wow. Kudos on having any involvement in such an amazing game title and studio, period. 
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:iconalexzemke:
alexzemke Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Thanks! It can start to feel grueling after a while, but when fans love the results this much, it's very rewarding.
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