Team Interview: Director of Mo-Cap & Deputy Art Director Ehren Burns

Wyvern’s Director of Motion Capture and Deputy Art Director, Ehren Burns, combines a laid-back personality with a sharp wit and sense of humor. Though he teasingly refers to himself as a “Type B” personality in a studio full of Type As, don’t let that fool you. Ehren is anything but – he just tends to be a little less high-strung than his teammates. Ehren is a friendly and open-minded, and believes part of what sets Wyvern apart is the idea that the team listens to each other’s opinions, whether or not that opinion is a popular one. Ehren is always willing lend a helping hand or go the extra mile, Ehren is extremely enthusiastic about everything he does, whether it’s designing and animating a character or guiding our actresses through their mo-cap sessions. A huge supporter of collaboration, Ehren doesn’t tolerate people who slack off or refuse to cooperate with their teammates. “If you have the mentality of doing things your way and no1016561_10151982239868367_1791512523_n other, you won’t fit [at Wyvern],” says Ehren of the studio’s demand for strong teamwork skills. Passion is another strong suit for Ehren; whether it’s Halo, Star Trek, European metal bands or Supernatural, Ehren’s passion spills over into his work. It’s clear with every all-nighter – drinking, preferably, coffee with cream and sugar instead of black – or week long binge of tweaking a model, Ehren is enthusiastic and excited about the work that he does. He says it himself: he’s already doing his dream job. “Getting to work on games and design and animate characters is a blast and I can see myself doing this, and enjoying it, for a very long time.”

  1. Do you have a plan when you start new projects, or do you let your muse run wild?

Generally, I like to just run with my muse. Sometimes I will have an idea just pop into my head whenever I am driving, at the gym, or just relaxing outside and once and idea pops into my mind, I just go with it and see what I can make from it

2. What inspires you to create something (or someone)?
Anything and everything. I can hear a song playing that just sparks an idea in my head, or just talking with friends and family bouncing ideas and seeing what comes up that sounds good and doesn’t.

3. Do you listen to music while you’re working? If so, what kind?
This is almost an absolute must for me. And I listen to all kinds of music, but which depends on what I am working on. When I find myself modeling or animating a character, I like to listen to music that is generally appropriate to the attitude of that character so I can try and add that theme into them. It helps to have theme music for the character you’re creating.

4. Describe your workspace for us.
I like to have a lot of open space so I can spread out. I generally like this because sometimes I may have a lot of reference sheets, tablet, or snack nearby and simply enjoy the breathing room.
5. Do you remember how your interest in art originated?
I can say it has always intrigued me, but as to when I really got into digital art and animation happened on two different instances. I had a teacher in high school who was my graphics teacher, and although the school gave him very little to work with he got me interested in graphic design. From there I later took an animation class at my local community college, and that’s what got me really passionate in 3d modeling and animation and has led me to where I am today.

6. Do you have any advice for other artists?
The best advice I can give to other artist is some that was given to me by a professor of mine. He told me that you have to be patient with art, that you’re not always going to get to make what you want or that it will turn out how you want it to right away, but that I need to not freak out over it, but simply take my time to get it done right and that in time you will get to make the art that you want, the way you want.

7. Do you drink coffee? Why?
I have to say I have picked up a bit of a coffee habit because of character modeling and animation. I had a feeling it was only a matter of time, but at least I don’t drink it black…. Unless it’s crunch time, then I might need to do that from time to time.

8. Do you leave a project for a while and then come back to it, or work straight through?
To an extent I like to work straight through. I mean, I will take breaks in between so as to not fry my brain, but generally once the gears are turning I just keep going.

9. How do you relax?
The rare chance to sit and play a video game is always nice. Aside from that, maybe a Netflix marathon or even going to the gym. That last one does tend to help a lot.

10. What is your favorite positive saying?
“I do not fail. I succeed at finding what doesn’t work.” – Christopher Titus

11. Do you have any strange artistic habits?
I tend to act out whatever character I am working on to help get a since of what they might do, say, or how they would move. Same thing for a scene that I may be working on as well. I know I look weird doing it, and have gotten a couple confused looks from friends who have seen me do it, but when you’re bringing a character to life, it’s really helpful to try and put yourself in their shoes.

12. What were you like as a child?
Pretty much as weird, nerdy, sarcastic, and dorky as I am today. I can say with pride a part of me will never grow up!

13. What could you not do without?
Food, water, air, you know, the essentials. [laughs] Aside from that, my friends and family. They have been there for me through all the good and bad times in my life, and have helped me get to where I am today.

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