Lead Animator

Art · Kirkland, Washington
Department Art
Employment Type Full-Time
Minimum Experience Manager/Supervisor

Harebrained Schemes is looking for an experienced, versatile Lead Animator who has a deep love of bringing characters and the worlds they inhabit to life. You’ll partner with the Game Director to develop exciting new IPs and define the animation style for a new and exciting game title and then lead a team of animators to realise that vision.

The ideal candidate has a great demo-reel which demonstrates a superb sense of timing, personality, action, and is able to demonstrate a firm grasp of character art production pipelines. If you are a thoughtful collaborator, with a deep understanding of—and appreciation for— animation across a variety of game genres and audiences, we’d love to talk with you.

This is an on-site, full-time individual contributor and management role. 
(Please note that we are currently working from home due to Covid-19. We will return to the office in stages when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, all interviews will be done virtually.)

What You’ll Do

As the Lead Animator

  • Explore, establish and maintain the animation style that will bring our game world alive in order to build an immersive, exciting gaming experience.

  • Work with the art lead, design team, other animators and the production team to define key milestones.

  • Ensure all aspects of the animation content, state machines, blend trees, game logic and player input work harmoniously together to achieve compelling believable performances on screen.

  • Create written briefs and sample animations that set the bar for outsourcing partners and then provide both visual and written feedback as the outsourced assets are iterated upon.

  • Find efficiencies for in-game animation in service of gameplay goals and how the game plays as a whole

  • Mentor and lead your team by example both individually and as a group in order to help them grow and gel effectively.

  • Ensure quality and consistency across all the animation assets through constructive feedback, training and development of the team

  • Conduct 1-on-1s with your direct reports throughout the year as part of the performance review process.

As an Individual Contributor

  • Animate new characters from scratch, while also supporting and expanding on existing character movement sets.

  • Retarget motion and adjust existing animation sets across a variety of character rigs.

  • Review and revise animations on an ongoing basis in response to technical and game-play requirements.

  • Give and receive constructive feedback in a very collaborative and iterative environment.

  • Collaborate with the character art team, systems designers, and engineers to ensure consistency between vision, creation and implementation of animation assets.

  • Collaborate with technical teams to develop run-time character animation procedures & pipelines.

  • Troubleshoot and solve art production issues related to rigging and animation in partnership with other members of the character team, 

  • Move animation data into the game through our production pipeline.

  • In partnership with the Character Technical Artist develop and evolve sophisticated character rigs that are capable of supporting the dynamic performances we are targeting.

  • Work with existing character models and rigs in order to modify animation created by other team members.

What You’ll Bring

  • You’ve worked on a variety of projects - big or small, indie or 1st party, PC or console or mobile, licensed or new IP, etc. - to understand the breadth of issues you have to anticipate and know that every project is different

  • Excellent leadership, communication, time-management and organizational skills.

  • Ability to showcase a task driven, self-motivated, proactive approach to the work and work well under deadline pressure.

  • Comfort with iterative development and differences between prototyping and production work.

  • An excellent aptitude for problem solving and the ability to follow an efficient workflow and pipeline process.

  • A strong sense of timing, personality, action, acting and staging. You can bring characters to life through movement that's easily readable from a distance and make highly responsive characters while telling a convincing and evocative story, without hindering gameplay.

  • Exceptional visual/technical understanding of animation mechanics with an emphasis on weight, good timing and fluid, overlapping motion.

  • Understanding of character pipeline considerations such as animation retargeting, standard locomotion sets (walk/run/pivot etc) and working with animation blends.

  • A deep understanding of Maya and Unity

  • Experience of when to keyframe, when to motion capture, and how to blend both sources of motion along with ragdoll and other procedural techniques into character performances.

  • Solid understanding of next-gen animation development processes, limitations and dependencies including motion-capture, key-framed, dynamic and physics-based movement.

Nice to Haves

  • Solid drawing skills

  • Experience 3D modelling

  • Shipped titles using Unity.

  • Professional character rigging experience.

  • Experience creating animations to fit stylized or minimalist art styles.

  • Experience in any other area of art production (3D modeling, VFX, concept, etc.).

  • Motionbuilder experience 

  • Art-related degree (BA or BFA) and/or comparable professional experience.

Showreel Submissions

  • All candidates must deliver a full resume with a showreel featuring character animation samples to be considered for this position.

  • Demonstrate ability to create character performances in a range of styles.

  • Show a high level of expertise with key frame performances that include body, facial, human and creature animation examples. Motion capture examples are a plus.

  • On a per shot basis, please include information regarding software used and your contribution to the piece.

What to Expect at HBS

All HBS employees

  • Contribute respectfully with empathy, emotional intelligence and self-awareness

  • Can work collaboratively in a team as well as on your own

  • Are able to be self-directed in their work and learning

  • Bring a growth mindset to the work they do

Working at HBS Means:

  • Work-life balance: a work family that doesn’t replace your family-family

  • Flexible workday hours and work-from-home opportunities

  • Time off when you need it: a wellness-first and family-first mindset

  • High transparency and easy access to studio leadership

HBS Benefits:

  • Generous medical, dental, vision, EAP, FSA, and both short & long-term disability

  • Paid vacation time

  • Paid sick time

  • Paid holidays including the week between Christmas and New Years Day

  • 401(k) program 

  • Annual profit-sharing from Paradox Interactive

  • Easy access off I-405 and free parking

  • Skilled, passionate, and fun co-workers

  • Pet-friendly office

You should apply to work at HBS if you want to:
Make amazing game experiences with co-workers who are just as passionate about their craft as you are
Be part of a project small enough (20-35 members) for everyone to have a significant impact
Join a warm, inclusive and diverse team, with a respectful and collaborative culture
Evolve and learn with us in a growth-mindset environment 


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  • Location
    Kirkland, Washington
  • Department
  • Employment Type
  • Minimum Experience