Community Spotlight - Rodrigo

Find out more about animator, artist and Play It First contest winner Rodrigo in this spotlight!

Every two weeks we spend a few moments shining our spotlight on another maurading member of our community! Over time, we've gotten to know a good number of our Sea of Thieves superfans better and this week is no exception. Stepping into view for today's spotlight is Rodrigo, the animator who got to live out the pirate dream he so artfully captured in his Play It First contest entry. Here he is to talk more about his seafaring adventures, his visit to Rare's studio and how he made his contest-winning entry! Take it away, Rodrigo...

Rodrigo sandwiched between some of his fellow Play It First winners and superfans!

[Q]: Tell us a little bit about what got you into gaming.
[A]: I got into gaming in the '90s. I used to play Super Nintendo with my cousin when I visited him and I truly loved it, but my passion began when I bought the Nintendo 64 and started playing all the 3D games. Titles like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and of course Banjo-Kazooie really got me into magical worlds that changed my life and I still play them from time to time.

[Q]: What’s your favourite Rare game and why?
[A]: My favorite game has to be Banjo-Tooie. I know that some people prefer Kazooie, but I really liked the idea of the expanded worlds and that the game itself is like a puzzle piece where you have to go back and relive the maps you already discovered, making it more challenging. In some ways I think it's a deeper and more natural game, where your actions are not depending on the world you are in, but in the whole universe itself.

[Q]: What games are you playing currently? Any favourites?
[A]: In the past few months I've played The Last Tinker: City of Colors, Yooka-Laylee Toybox and Life is Strange. I really loved Life is Strange, the story got me involved quickly and the soundtrack is just perfect. Unfortunately I don't have the time to play as much as before due to my full-time work and also because I love doing personal projects that consume most of my time outside work.

In Banjo-Tooie, you can stomp around as the Golden Goliath for a short time!

[Q]: Your entry for our Play It First contest was great! How much work went into creating that animation?
[A]: Thanks! It was the most challenging animation short I've ever done. I started working from the day you announced the contest. I spent the first week planning the idea, listening to music for inspiration, and talking to my family and girlfriend about possible plots, art styles and elements. I know I wanted to make a 3D short about a pirate traveling to the future and getting the game before anyone else, but the ending was still unclear until I came up with a mixture in realities between the real life kid and the pirate in the dream. So I tried to embrace the phrase "Dreams come true" and start working from there.

It was very challenging because of the short amount of time, but fortunately a friend helped me out with the modeling of the characters and ship, and another friend helped with the music and sound effects (big thanks to Israel Yépez and Carlos López). The rendering of the clouds was very tricky and it was something I'd never done before. The whole project took me almost two months of work, but in the end it was all worth it because it made me accomplish one of my dreams, so in fact dreams can come true.

[Q]: What got you into the field of animation?
[A]: I studied graphic design, but I've always been in love with cartoons, drawing, painting and art in general. I focused more on animation and took several courses and diplomas that helped me develop my character animation skills. Where I live, jobs in the animation field are still very uncommon, but fortunately I've been managing to find work in the area that I love. Working as an animator, for me, is as fulfilling as having all the freedom in the world.

[Q]: Are there any other animation projects that you’re working on at the moment?
[A]: In my full-time work I'm making some VR content and some 3D models for an Augmented Reality experience. As a personal project, I'm working on a racing/exploration videogame called Running Fable based on the hare and tortoise and a fan-made game based on an old TV show that I loved. That's still in the early stages.

We welcomed this band of brigands from all over the world during our recent fan visit!

[Q]: What was it like to be one of the first fans in the world to play Sea of Thieves?
[A]: It was the most surreal experience! I've always loved pirates and having the chance to play it when there wasn't a lot of information around was incredibly exciting! I still remember when I entered the booth where I was going to play the game. We weren't supposed to play the game until the red light turned green and the screen turned on, but the sound effects of the wind and waves crashing on the sand were really seductive and I couldn't help but press the buttons of the controller.

[Q]: Are there any moments from when you played the game here that really stand out for you?
[A]: There was a moment almost at the end of the sessions, when all four of us that were on the same team started to communicate and bond together as a real crew. Chad, Hyle, Daniel and me were sinking ships like there was no tomorrow!

[Q]: Speaking of standout moments, do you have any from the trip itself?
[A]: Sure! Getting to know all of the team at Rare and shake hands with the legends that created my favorite games. Talking to Art Director Ryan about art and animation, taking a photo with Conker's animator Louise, getting to hear Chris as the Great Mighty Poo, having the chance to play footgolf, having a drink, and riding side by side with Gregg Mayles in his car - every single detail was so exciting that I'm still wearing the same smile as the one in the E3 video!

[Q]: If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?
[A]: All my family and some friends call me "Oso" which means bear in Spanish, so it would probably be something like Beardy Bear. Although I also liked the name Gregg Mayles gave me: Rebellious Rodrigo.

A small sampling of Rodrigo's spectacular artwork!

[Q]: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming?
[A]: I like reading novels and I really love to draw and paint in oil. I have a fascination with making portraits in very fine detail, like wrinkles in old men's faces. Painting and listening to music at the same time is such a joy.

[Q]: What are you looking forward to most in Sea of Thieves?
[A]: Fighting the kraken! Although the exploration and the freedom in the world is something that I'm looking forward to as well. I think that the amount of freedom Rare is giving to the game makes it such a unique experience and there is no game out there as deep as Sea of Thieves for everyone that loves pirates. 

[Q]: Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
[A]: About a month ago when I was about to enter my home I found a small box with my name written on it. The package was slightly damaged, but the contents were intact. At first I didn't realize who could have sent me the box, but when I saw a sticker with Rare's logo written on it I couldn't help but smile and act like the kid in my animation when he opened the treasure chest. Inside my treasure chest/box was a pirate figure toy and a note that said "With our compliments - some more loot for your hoard". An infinite thank you Rare, for keeping the inner child alive in me and for being the company that is closest to my heart.

Thank you, Rodrigo, for taking the time to talk with us! We're definitely looking forward to seeing what you'll animate next and can't wait to see you take on a kraken. Until then, we'll urge the rest of the crew to stay tuned for more of our Community Spotlights and to keep watch over our forum, Facebook and Twitter for all the latest Sea of Thieves news.