Oddworld's Inhabitants: Iain Morton, CG Technical Director [Hosted by Oddworld.com] Date: December 2002 Interviewer: Oddworld.com Interviewee: Iain Morton
Oddworld’s Inhabitants are as diverse as the world they’ve worked together to create. Here’s where you’ll find interviews and other informative articles spotlighting the many creative folk that work at Oddworld Inhabitants. Be they headline players or behind-the-scenes heroes, the Inhabitants profiled here all share Oddworld’s ceaseless dedication to bringing you the best worlds and games that you’ve ever experienced.
Iain Morton, CG Technical Director
Q: What’s your background?
Iain Morton: I’m one of the ever-growing band of ‘canucks’ (Canadians) at Oddworld Inhabitants and I’ve been at the company for about two years. I grew up in Vancouver, Canada and graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1998 with a bachelor of arts degree major in Fine Arts. I originally planned on doing a masters degree in architecture and actually worked for a couple of years in an architectural firm but found that it wasn’t entirely what I expected. I loved the design, drawing and 3d rendering element of the job though and that got me thinking about getting into the field of 3d animation. I’ve always had a great love of animation and film, and realized this was the career for me after researching the industry and schools. I went to Vancouver Film School and shortly thereafter found myself in California working for Oddworld.
Q: Who are your biggest influences? Why?
Iain Morton: My aesthetic likes and dislikes are very broad and bizarre. I’m a big fan of the darker art and films of people like Tim Burton, in movies like “A Nightmare Before Christmas”, but then also love Pixar’s stuff and directors such as John Lasseter. I love the artwork done at Oddworld and have to say that the production design team is among my favorite and most inspirational artists in the industry.
Q: Why did you decide to go into the video game industry?
Iain Morton: I originally wasn’t interested in getting involved in the video game industry. I’m mostly interested in working on high res, pre-rendered projects and Oddworld worked out perfectly in that sense. The artwork and stories produced here are, in my opinion, some of the most creative and well executed in the industry and we are one of the few companies around that are doing high res cinematics, which have always been a huge selling feature for me when buying a video game. The Oddworld CG team is great because we’re all friends and learn a lot from each other. We get the chance to work on almost every aspect of the production, from modeling and texturing to animating, lighting and rendering, so it ends up being a great learning experience.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Iain Morton: When not at work I try to get outside as much as possible to get some exercise and see the light of day. Working in California is great for me because I love to surf and snowboard, and do one or the other almost every weekend. (although surfing tends to be the norm).
Q: What CDs are you currently listening too?
Iain Morton: Current CD is more often than not a Paul Van Dyke album, but I’ve been into the Blade 2 soundtrack quite a bit lately as well.
Q: What kind of a place is Oddworld?
Iain Morton: Oddworld is a very laid back fun place to work. Everybody in the CG department has very similar tastes when it comes to film, music, games etc. and we have respect each other’s opinions and skills. It’s always nice to work with a bunch of people you have a lot in common with and respect.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
Iain Morton: There really isn’t such a thing as a typical day for me, which is one of the things I love about this job. I may be modeling, texturing, setting up characters, lighting, rendering, compositing Ð it depends what phase of the production we’re currently in. Generally though, a workday is based on a back and forth process with the production design team and/or director to produce the scenes that make it into the Oddworld cinematics.
Q: What do you like best about coming to work?
Iain Morton: The best part about coming to work is knowing that I’m going to working on some of the most interesting models and scenes in the industry. The Oddworld style really works well for me.
Q: If you could change jobs with one of the other Inhabitants who would it be and why?
Iain Morton: If I could change jobs with somebody else it would have to be one of the production design guys. I’d love to see a design that was my idea come to life as it gets built, rigged and animated from an outside perspective. I think that would be really rewarding.
Q: What at Oddworld are you most proud of?
Iain Morton: I’m most proud of the fact that Oddworld sticks stringently to the highest level of quality. Nothing is allowed to slip buy and our work is highly regarded in the industry. Every stage of the production from design to completion is done to the best of our abilities and I’m always proud of the end result.
Q: Many fans are upset with Oddworld’s decision to develop for the Xbox exclusively. Any comments?
Iain Morton: X-box is the machine that best allows Oddworld to bring our concepts to life the way we want them to be presented. We want to make the best possible game and switching to X-box was the means to that end.
Q: What advice would you give someone trying to break into games? What type of education does someone need to do your job?
Iain Morton: To get into the gaming industry, school is not the be all and end all solution, although it can help. A demo reel or portfolio is very important Ð you want to show the best work you are capable of, and the reasons why you would be an asset for the company you are trying to work for. There are all kinds of things that companies look for, from technical skills to basic personality and ability to work well in teams. The best approach to take is to decide what specifically it is that you want to do in a gaming company and focus on the skills that that job would require. A school can be a good place to put together a portfolio but as the industry grows the schools seem to be getting more and more expensive. If you can develop your skills well outside school, maybe with some mentoring from a connection in a gaming company, that may be a good approach. The most important thing is your skills, how you present them and how you present yourself.
Q: Who is your favorite Oddworld character? Why?
Iain Morton: My favorite character hasn’t been released to the public yet. Look for great things to come!
Q: Can you tell us anything about the new game or what you are working on right now?
Iain Morton: All I can say about the next game is that it is looking very exciting and I’m going to be working on some great characters for the cinematics to come. I’m currently working on a character that is completely new and is based on a fantastic design. It will be great to see it come to life.