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Sophie Brennan

Sophie Brennan - BA Computer Arts 2012

Character Technical Director, Insomniac Games.

Current role

Upon graduation in 2012, I was very fortunate to already have a job offer at Blitz Games Studios in Royal Leamington Spa as a Junior Technical Animator and was able to start within a week of finishing my course. This was an ideal entry role for me as I was able to learn on the job. I started within their Research and Development (R&D) department as a rigging artist working on various titles within the company. I worked there for around one and a half years until they, unfortunately, declared bankruptcy and I was made redundant.

This lead to other opportunities as within a few months I had accepted a new role in Irvine, California as a Character Technical Artist at Ready At Dawn Studios working on The Order: 1886. This was a very fun and exciting experience because I made the switch from R&D to full-time production work in a production environment.

I also made the international move from England to California, which really helped shape me as a person.

Since then, I have joined Insomniac Games in Burbank, California to lend my expertise as a Character Technical Director (TD) and am currently helping bring their vision of Spiderman PS4 to life.

As a Character TD at Insomniac Games, my daily tasks are often very varied. I create and maintain a wide variety of rigs, develop tools and scripts for our own department and others, help in debugging and problem-solving artist and animator's problems, and work with our engine team to solve any issues as well as develop new features required or requested, among many other things. Mostly, I am a facilitator and content creator, but I also help in the R&D effort to make sure we are cutting edge in our technology and tools.

Abertay

Abertay gave me a platform to start developing my skills and introduced me to the local game development scene who were instrumental in providing help, support and instruction as I developed my skills to a standard where I was able to enter the industry.

Without the Character Animation class, I don't know if I would have discovered my love for rigging and tools (or at least, not as quickly!) The University also gave me an opportunity to teach and mentor too, which is something else I've discovered that I really enjoy.

Maintaining connections with the industry and inviting in industry speakers were some of the most inspirational things that Abertay offered. It meant that the idea of graduating and becoming professional was not out of your reach because many of the speakers had come from similar backgrounds or had had similar experiences breaking in!

Being able to further the field and help others in some way is a big motivator for me.

I'd love to give or present a talk at Games Development Conference, which is something I'm working towards. I attended the event for the first time this year (which was really awesome - highly recommended if you can afford it or can secure a scholarship to attend).

My advice to my younger self would be not to doubt yourself - your passion, enthusiasm and a good attitude will get you much further than you could possibly imagine. Caring about what you do will help you so much. Just remember to try to develop your skills and maybe worry a little less along the way!

Inspirations

Probably Uncharted (2007, Naughty Dog Inc). This was the game that made me realise working within the games industry was what I wanted to do when I was at a crossroads in my life. When I watched the behind-the-scenes documentary after completing it - which was a magical experience in itself - I noticed that the team were just regular people and that making games was actually something a PERSON had to do! Lightbulb moment! (Seems silly, I know!)