Creating video game characters means more than writing bits of code on a computer for Patrick Bryan.
The Baton Rouge-born animator had loftier goals when working on “Halo 5: Guardians,” the latest title in the groundbreaking video game series.
“You’re starting out with a blank slate, or you’re starting out with just a character that is sitting there, not looking alive,” Bryan, 24, said. “At the end, it’s a fully breathing character that you can have empathy for and relate to. We’re the people who are behind that.”
For the past year, Bryan has worked for 343 Industries, a Seattle-based subsidiary of Microsoft responsible for developing the hit “Halo” video game franchise. One of hundreds of video game developers for the company, he animates some of the main characters, like Jameson Locke, a soldier searching for the series’ original protagonist Master Chief. Bryan also creates some of the enemy characters.
A love of movies and video games led the Runnels School alumnus to start animating as a teenager using personal computer software.
He learned the basics of animating using computerized stick figure drawings.
“I never thought of myself as an artist,” Bryan said. “I couldn’t draw all that well.”
From there his interest grew, learning about the principles of animation — “how to make things look fast or slow or heavy,” he said.
After he graduated high school, Bryan wanted to study animation could find few opportunities available. Urged by his parents to go to college, he attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and studied industrial design for one year. But it wasn’t getting him any closer to his goal.
He left after one year and instead took courses through Animation Mentor, an online animation school.
“My teachers were from Pixar and Dreamworks and all these amazing studios,” he said. “I was learning directly from them online, and I got to stay in Louisiana and just work from home.”
After building a demo reel of his work, Bryan began networking with experienced animators and found video game development work in California. He worked on a few other games, including “The Walking Dead: Season Two” for Telltale Games and “The Order: 1886,” a Playstation 4 game.
Then, last year, he was offered an eight-month contract with 343 Industries. He recently was hired as a full-time employee.
Animating a major video game was part of Bryan’s 10-year plan. Although he reached his goal a few years early, he isn’t itching to move on.
Bryan said he enjoys his career and wants to work on a few other projects — like short films and virtual reality — on the side.
As technology and filmmaking continue to evolve, Bryan is excited by the prospects of animation and filmmaking over the rest of his career.
“I think games and movies are merging together almost,” he said. “The quality of the work, games are getting really cinematic and cool.”
In his spare time, Bryan doesn’t obsess over playing video games.
“I try to get out and exercise a lot,” he said. “I play some.”