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Meet the Trendy Team - Alex Fundora

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In the first part of a new behind-the-scenes series, our intern, Matt Arnold (@GearsGator), interviewed Alex Fundora, lead animator at Trendy Entertainment, to discuss his job, how he began working in the video game industry and more.

Hey Alex, tell me a little about yourself.
"Hey, my name is Alex Fundora, Lead Animator here at Trendy Entertainment. I'm 25 years old, was born in Buffalo, New York, but moved to Florida a few years later and lived here almost my whole life since. I received my BFA in Computer Animation at Digital Media Arts College in south Florida."

How long have you been an employee at Trendy Entertainment?
"So far, I've been working with Trendy for about 2 years."

How did you get a job at Trendy?
"I first discovered Trendy while browsing through some modding forums a few years ago. At the time, Trendy was working on a prototype version of the game which was originally titled ‘Dungeon Defense.' It was a really fun concept for a game right from the start, so I quickly got in contact with Jeremy, the Creative Director, which eventually kickstarted some contract work."

Prior to working at Trendy, did you work at any other video game companies?
"After a few months of contracting with Trendy, I made a full-time switch to a popular game studio known as Bethesda Game Studios. There, I was an animator for The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It was a great trip, though I quickly discovered that their type of work and games didn't reflect my personal interests as much as I would have liked. So I got in contact with Jeremy again and was offered a full-time Lead Animator position back at Trendy, which I couldn't refuse."

What is a typical “day in the life” for you at work?
"I start the day off by riding our half-broken elevator up to the top floor of the building. The unrythmic jolting and noises inside the elevator gives you just the right kick to not need coffee in the morning. I then walk down a long hallway and pass many rooms which include: Public Relations, which many times houses a puppy or some animal that demands petting; the beta testers room for which I get to be jealous that they play videogames all day; the programmers room a.k.a. Mordor, which no artist enters even with a double-salary incentive; my Art Director Ben's room, which I stop in every morning to tell him he's a sexy beast; and then finally the artists’ room where I go to my desk a.k.a. The Valve Shrine (see picture). The rest of the day I usually stare out the window or sometimes do work."

As a lead animator, what are some specific contributions you have made to Dungeon Defenders?
"I have my hand in just about everything animated for the game including characters, world assets, in-game cutscenes and promotional cinematics."

What is your proudest moment from working at Trendy?
"My proudest moment was when the full Dungeon Defenders game was finally released for console and PC, knowing that everything that I was responsible for was technically flush and artistically interesting."

What are some of the challenges you have experienced getting in and staying in the video game industry?
"The most difficult detail was figuring out how to develop my portfolio for job hunting. Different studios are looking to fill different types of animation jobs, so developing a reel that covered a broad spectrum of animation was the key. I find that many students are too confident that they know exactly what they want to do and develop a very narrow portfolio ... when entering the industry. This can make finding work difficult, even for the talented. Once here, it is a lot easier to focus on something more specific."

Do you prefer to animate 2D or 3D art and why?
"I really enjoy the appeal and freedoms from traditional animation, though with digital animation, it allows the animator to focus more on the shot and performance of the character and not worry about the high demands of technical consistency that would be required with 2D."

What are some of the pros and cons of using the Unreal Engine 3?
"Working with Unreal Engine 3 is amazing. It has a very straight forward design which makes working with new content fast and easy. The engine also has a very powerful and dynamic cinematics department which helps fuse ambition for us animators. The only con from working with the Unreal Engine is that I can't keep up with all of its consistently awesome updates from Epic Games."

Who is your favorite hero in Dungeon Defenders?
"My favorite hero is definitely the Huntress. Her traps which have solid utility and damage coupled with some evasion perks make her a fun and effective teammate."

Outside of Dungeon Defenders, what are some other games you enjoy playing?
"It is no secret here at Trendy that I am a huge follower of Valve Software. I've been playing their titles for over half of my lifetime so far and are what initially sparked my interest in game development, which eventually led to my career as an animator. Nowadays, I play lots of Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. Brownie points for Grand Theft Auto, Trine and Torchlight."

What advice do you have for someone interested in being an animator in the gaming industry?
"Not just for animation, but for any 3D discipline, it is very important to have a strong traditional art background. Even if drawing will never be applied on a practical level with your specific career choice, traditional art teaches you how to compose an idea without all the technical jargon. It is very important, so don't let your sketchbooks collect dust."

Thank you for your time!

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Awesome art work Alex Fundora and I was also born in Buffalo, New York as well :-)

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It's nice to see the pure side of the gaming industry. I have recently started playing Trendy's 'Dungeon Defenders' and it is one of those titles that remind me of what it means to be a gamer!
I'm really excited to see where Trendy goes from here off of DunDef's note.

And great respect to Alex Fundora for his work put towards such an amazing title.

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I saw his desk and all I could think was "STICKY BOMB! :D" >.>;
That and "That animator's a bloody Demo!"

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What is a typical “day in the life” for you at work?

"The rest of the day I usually stare out the window or sometimes do work."

You and I would get along great lol

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