Here’s why we think Grant is swell…
Shawn Robertson, Animation Director: Grant has been with Irrational since early on in production for the first BioShock. He came to us with a wide range of experience, including some work on the military Osprey aircraft and a stint with stop-motion animation in a post-Soviet Bloc, Eastern European country. Come to think of it, Grant may actually be a spy. When you chose to harvest or save Little Sisters in BioShock, those were Grant’s animations you were looking at.
During production on BioShock Infinite, Grant took over the Lead Animator position. This put a ton of responsibility on his shoulders, but when the game comes out, I think you’ll see he’s managed the job swimmingly. Whenever you see an AI dodge out of your line of fire, you can think of Grant filming video references for those moves, running around the kitchen upstairs, plowing through surprised devs who were trying to eat. Come to think of it, that is something a spy might do.
Keep calm and Chang on.
Your title is Lead Animator. What does that mean?
Grant Chang: I keep the animation team tasked with (hopefully) clear direction. I also work closely with art, design, and programming to get AIs working and behaving correctly. With Infinite being such a huge project, I worked with a bunch of outsourcers and directed mo-cap sessions. I also got to do some animating.
What games have you worked on?
GC: BioShock, BioShock DLC, and BioShock Infinite. I also did the Saladin animations for Civilization Revolution. Before Irrational, I worked at a small production studio called Red Eye in Rochester, NY. We made the FMVs (cutscenes) for Crash: Twinsanity, Crash: Tag Team Racing, and Spider-Man 2 for the PSP.
Describe Life at Irrational in three words or less.
GC: It’s intensely awesome!
What is your favorite game of all time?
GC: Back in grad school I’d play Soulcalibur every day with my best friends, who were also my roommates. We never got tired of it.
What is your favorite movie?
GC: Raging Bull
What are your hobbies outside of work?
GC: One of my first loves is stop-motion. After college, I interned at Nukufilm, a stop-motion film house in Tallinn, Estonia. I did small tasks for them, and they gave me free rein with the studio’s resources. I made a film called Morning’s Broken that you can check out on YouTube. I’m planning a new film project this year.
I’m not sure if this counts as a hobby, but I’ve been doing a lot of home improvement. I’m learning a lot, but I’m still no handyman. (I can’t believe I just said that…Infinite’s infected my brain!)
I like playing soccer, tennis, and have recently gotten into mud runs.
What’s a mud run?
GC: It’s an obstacle course where you wade through muddy pools, climb over walls, and crawl under barbed wire. Different races have different and insidious torture stations. If you messed up a station in the Spartan Race, you had to do 30 burpees. If you don’t know what a burpee is, look it up. They’re not pleasant.
Tell your favorite story about life at Irrational.
GC: I was the first animator hired by Shawn, our animation lead, when Irrational was ramping up for BioShock. I’d never animated for games before or used 3ds Max (I was a Maya guy), so I was a little anxious. When I first arrived, Shawn wasn’t in the office. My first week happened to coincide with a mo-cap shoot in Chicago that kept him away the rest of the week. I wasn’t sure where to start, but I figured I better learn Max as fast as I could. I kept a low profile for a day, then our lead programmer rushed in to request a new animation and get it in-engine. Our system was pretty new and nobody in the office knew the animation export process. I thought I was going to get canned, but after an hour Shawn called me and told me not to worry about it. Everything worked out okay, as I’m now in my seventh year at Irrational. It started out a tad rocky, but the past years have been an amazing ride.