Jangjoon Cha is our latest Inside the Vault profile.
What’s your job at Bethesda?
My job is to do whatever the character department needs me to do. So far I have been tasked mostly to do animations, but I have done some model and texture work on some clutter items and weapons.
What other games have you worked on?
Fallout 3 is the first game I have worked on.
What is the best part about being an artist? The worst part?
The best part about my role in the character artist department is that I get to breathe life into the amazing models that the people here have created. Animating the models to give them purpose and characteristics and seeing that in game has been an awesome experience. Also, I have had the chance to work and get to know the great people here from other departments. I often have to talk to designers and level designers to get information on the my animation task. Some are to make NPCs interact with the world and some are quest related. Whatever it is, it feel good providing animations that make a quest or area feel more interesting.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I don’t have a perfect sentence to sum up what it takes to get into the industry, so I’ll just spill my story. The way I got into the industry seemed to be combination of luck, timing, persistence and support from family (especially Mom & Brian).
First I would like to say that Morrowind was a huge inspiration in me wanting to work on videogames. It was also the reason I dropped out of my university to pursue a tech school that provided a fast computer animation program. The hard part was explaining that to my parents and moving all the way to Florida from Virginia. The name of the school was Full Sail. It was located near theme parks, beaches and fun. The whole year and a half I was there, I experienced very little of those. The program was very intense and very fast and required me to study all the time and practice making 3d stuff all the time. The schedules were pretty brutal and sometimes required you to stay up more than 24 hours depending on your task. Overall though it was a good experience that taught me how to handle deadlines and heavy workloads.
So after I graduated I sent my resume to Bethesda (my dream job) and other studios. Months went on and I didn’t hear back from any of the studios. I eventually had to find other work to pay off student loans, but I still did 3d stuff to keep myself from being rusty. After almost a year, I applied again at Bethesda and I received an email to do an art test. I sent that in, passed it and was asked to go to the studio for an interview. There I got to have lunch with the team and tour the studio. I did the interview and went back home to Virginia. It was all pretty exciting but then I didn’t hear anything from them for weeks. I was told that I didn’t get hired but they would consider me for an internship. I was disappointed but glad that I was offered an internship. I immediately took the offer and moved to Maryland. On the first day of my internship, I discovered that another person in the same department was starting their contract job. His name was Dane Olds! He was equipped with some old timey hat and mutton chops. It definitely made me nervous since it was possible that only one of us would eventually get hired. I wish I could say that there was an epic battle between he and I where Bethesda made us fight to the death with wacom pens, but things were actually pretty calm and cool even though we shared the same work space. Well this story is getting long and derailing towards irrelevant things so I’ll wrap it up. At the end of my 4 months internship Bethesda hired Dane and told me they weren’t hiring anyone else. I could have went home and applied at other studios but I decided to stick around and joined the QA department. After two months in QA, I received an email from the character art lead saying that a position opened up but required an animation art test. I quickly did the test, passed it and now I’m here making art for Bethesda.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
I don’t care what anyone says, it’s Morrowind for me.
What games are you looking forward to?
Other than our games, probably id’s Rage and Dead Space 2 — whenever they hit.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
The fact that there’s always fresh fruit, bread, and coffee in the company kitchen.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
Dishwasher/fry cook for Pollard’s Chicken! Yeah, that’s not that bad. Their chicken is actually pretty damn good.
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to go rock climbing, play videogames, and hang out with the GF. I also enjoy slaying demons with my death metal band every week at Nate “a.k.a McDiddles” McDyer’s garage.
Soon to be singer/currently Drummer: Dane
Lead guitar: me
Rythm guitar/keyboard: Nate Purkeypile