Giacomo Bonanno – From Think Tank Online to Ubisoft Berlin
What led you into CGI/3D? Tell us your story
Hey! I’m Giacomo, from Italy, I always wanted to work in the video game industry since I was a child. There weren’t any online course at the time when I finished my high school path (Yes, I’m old) and Uni Abroad…I found it was too expensive for my pockets…I got stuck in the loop of not being happy with my previous job so I decide to pursue my dream job.
I started learning by myself with what I could find online and then a couple years ago and I started studying to be an environment artist seriously! I chose to attend the Think Tank Online course and now I’m working as a QA at Ubisoft Berlin transit to be and Environment artist soon.
What was your experience like learning from Think Tank Online?
I always wanted to come to Vancouver and attend the school, but as I said before unfortunate that wasn’t an option. But when I saw that Think Tank had started an Online program, I couldn’t miss the chance! It was a tough year, I had to manage my time since I was working full time as well, but motivation and consistency led me through the way. I really like how the online course was structured, I was part of the first class from the online path so the course kinda shaped from our feedback to be the best for the future students.
What was it like going through each term, and what were some major differences? (Foundation, Intermediate and Advance)
Foundations term is an introduction to the 3d world, you’ll learn the basic of modeling, sculpting, texturing and rendering, it’s a good start that will bring you to your next term with the right knowledge, at the end of the term you’ll have the challenge to work on a final piece where you’ll use all the technique that you learn.
After the foundations term you’ll have to change your specialization, in my case I chose Environment Art.
Intermediate term is a term where you’ll learn more in depth the skills from the foundations terms but related to your path. This new skills will then be used for a final project specific to environment modeling.
Tips: Go small in this case, don’t make my same mistake to try to create a huge Env!
In the advance term you’ll focus to producing an industry standard quality project, you’ll still learn some new stuff from a couple of classes, but everything will be on weekly check in with your supervisor and classmates to check your progress and get critique and feedback. This is super important to help you progress. You’ll get pushed to the max quality possible.
What was your mentorship term like? Who were your mentors and supervisors?
I choose an artist outside the Think Tank teachers selection, you have the choice to reach out to an artist that you admire and ask if they’re available for a mentorship, then the school will take care of everything else, how awesome is that!?
My mentor was Cliff Schonewill, super talented artist that worked on the latest “God of war”, check his artstation (https://www.artstation.com/figmentpigment
) and my supervisors was the awesome Jonathan Chan.
This term was the one that I liked the most, I built a really good relation with my mentor, we still talk today and keeps us updated on how lifes going, I also ask him for feedback on my personal work…He helped me develop so much, not just for the mentorship project but also artistically speaking. In a mentorship term you’ll focus to build another Environment, but in this case you’ll be mentored 1 on 1 for 3 months, you need to take advantage of this time and absorb as much as you can from your mentor.
What was the best support or advice you received from Think Tank Online?
From the second term, Jonathan (our supervisor) managed to invite a lot of people from the industry to make some talk, I found that really valuable because then you also had the time to ask questions and get feedback on the project you were working on.
“MAKE IT BIGGER!” That was the advice that Jonathan always tells us, since in game objects tend to be more big than real scale and as a student we always make that mistake.
The best advice is always to learn new stuff, be flexible and keep pushing your work, if you’ll be consistent you’ll reach that level of quality and games companies will not ignore your applications.
How did you begin your career and transition out from Think Tank Online?
I didn’t find a job straight away, After my mentorship term I didn’t even finish my Env, since I had some personal issue and I had to focus on something else, without having that much time for 3D, but I managed to make some other small work to put on my portfolio, polishing my skills and learning new stuff.
At the same time I started to respond to studios that had openings for Jr. environment or hard surface artists, I love hard surface and I thought that some pieces on my portfolio could show my skills. I got some answer for the Env artist postion, took some art test, but it didn’t go as planned. It was a rough time…working in a full time job and also spend a lot of time on your portfolio can lead you to litte sleep!
I saw an opening at Ubisoft Berlin where they were looking for an hard surface artist, apply it for it and casually reached out to one of the producers on LinkedIn, he told me that I had an interesting profile but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough experience for the position yet, so he offered me another solution, joining the studio as a Junior QA and then transit to be and Env Artist.
Are there any particular techniques that you use often? Or do you like to experiment?
I would love to learn more in regards to procedurals and their integrations. Such as Houdini, I would like to dive deep in shaders work, so that I can make work smarter and faster. Usually every personal project I try to integrate something that I want to learn, so that I can implemented in my knowledge and workflow.
Any advice for future Think Tank Students?
Look for people that already work in the gaming industry and understand what it takes to be at their level. Don’t overdo stuff, once you feel comfortable start going step by step. Working on your portfolio should teach you something, a new technique, tackle something you never did before or just speed up your workflow.
Think Tank will give you the right tools but you’ll need to invest a lot of time to master them! Be persistent, motivation can push you but consistency will get you result even if you’re discourage from the result, if you being consistent results will come, it’s just a matter of time you put in to it to master your craft!
Giacomo’s Reel: https://jack3d.artstation.com/projects/yb1Wqx
Giacomo’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giacomo-bonanno-200b4690/