Interview by Rachael Yeung @RachaelYeung21
Having graduated from the Art Institute and worked alongside AAA Gaming Veterans, Blair Scott is a Freelance 3D/Vr Artist based in California Los Angeles. Her past clients include RalphVR, FOX Entertainment Via NVE Agency, Two Bit Circus, AltspaceVR, Rogue Initiative, OssoVR, and Legendary Pictures.
In her spare time she makes her own VR Projects to learn new skills and experiment with new methods. Blair is an avid gym goer currently training in Brazilian Jiujitsu, Wrestling, and Muay Thai. Her aim is to step into the Octagon for her 30th birth year.
What project are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working as a temp for Google’s VR Division. I mainly work using 3ds max and Unity to create VR spaces. When I work on my personal projects I use max, unreal 4, along with other software to create full VR experiences. This requires some knowledge in visual scripting, design, and art. I typically act as a generalist.
You used to study architecture and design, how has this helped you in designing for VR? Did this lead you into VR or have you always wanted to work in computer gaming?
I originally started with a Bachelors in Game Art and Design from the Art Institute, but I did not immediately find work in the 3D entertainment industry. So I found work with other companies dealing with accident/crime reconstruction, and interactive displays. My official entry into the VR field happened shortly after graduating.
I saw on Facebook that a friend of a friend needed an artist for a VR project. At the time, I knew in theory how to make a VR game so I offered my services. The project was for FOX Entertainment using the X-men License! After hearing about what they were planning on building, I felt it necessary to pass the project along to my employer at the time, Capture Interactive. While I was still able to work on it as an artist, I was able to work with a small team of programmers to make it happen even though VR was not the original focus of the company. Shortly after adding this to my resume, I found that I was able to get more VR projects that I could work on independently overtime as I increased my network. So far all of my projects have been from word of mouth.
Have any hobbies helped you in the creative process? For example inspiration from existing comics?
"Games, games, games!"
I have always been a gamer girl! I loved how games were like interactive stories. My biggest inspiration was Final Fantasy (during the golden years). Their gameplay, stories, and concept work I saw as a work of art. I knew that I wanted to get into an art related job. Then I found colleges that offered game art degrees.
Being part of the designing process do you get to see and play with the finished games? Do you have a favourite?
Sure do! Working with smaller vr groups I wear many hats. I tend to double as QA. I would have to say that my favourite, for now, is an unannounced title from Rogue initiative. Ok, that’s not exactly fair so in regards to released titles I would have to say Daydream Blue. It’s such a fun and unique concept!
How are the experiences working with reconstruction VR different to computer games?
Creating environments for accident reconstruction is only different from computer games by the level of attention to detail and poly limits.
If it's VR building vs normal 3d games, there is a bit of a difference, but not too much. We have to watch out for the hardware limits of what we are developing for, and we have to be aware that the current users, even the hardcore, can only use the headsets for so long. So the main things that we strive for are efficient models, shorter experiences, and decent framerates and performance.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
I had only heard of Oculus from their kickstarter upon graduating. It wasn’t as widely adopted as it is now. Before getting into VR I wanted to work for AAA Gaming companies, but that industry is VERY competitive and oversaturated with Veteran talent. I also saw that the industry was highly susceptible to mass layoff and studios closing down entirely. I found the VR industry easier to get into because it was still an experimental field and the new indie studios at the time were more open to new talent that could prove themselves.
Has your gender ever stopped you?
No, I have never faced any issue regarding my gender in any of my past jobs. Looking back, I have had nothing but diverse bosses and teams. Sure I have had some that I would never want to work for again, really one. This one company, which I will not name, was my test for patience. It was run by two owners, one male and one female, and one manager. Both of the owners had HORRIBLE communication issues which caused a toxic, passive/aggressive environment. I saw that the other employees around me had accepted their toxic behaviour as normal, but I could not. So I left. Other than that, I have never faced discrimination of any kind. I have always been sort of a “one of the guys” kind of girl lol.
As you’re freelance do you find it quite lonely working independently or do you enjoy the freedom?
In the morning, I wake up Prepare breakfast, let out my parrot, walk my dog, put on some tunes, and log on for work. I love each and every second of it, and I work hard to keep my lifestyle. I usually Skype, or do Google Hangouts with my team mates so there is some level of face time. Occasionally I do onsite visits if they are in Southern California.
Do you find the majority in the VR industry male?
Thinking back at the clients that I have worked with, I have seen a fairly equal gender split. I have seen females in both leadership roles and as fellow team mates. In the VR community, my perspective might be a bit skewed. I have joined many “Women in tech” type groups so I see many examples of women in the industry. I am a part of other groups that are more generalised, and I see more of a 60/40 split in gender, Women being 40% it seems.
What do you see for the future of the VR world? Do you think it’s going to get more popular?
I feel that VR has MAJOR potential in every industry, but I feel that right now, VR is going through a “Steam Greenlight” issue. I feel that the industry is going through some growing pains and there is an issue with quality. I understand that VR is basically in the “Pong” stages and the hardware is having a hard time keeping up with the potential ideas. I have seen this issue the most in Mobile VR. Games are restricted to Mobile specs so in order to keep proper frame rates, some things need to be cut back.
Who are your top three VR companies?
My top 3 VR companies, besides myself, would be:
What advice would you give to young girls that aspire to work in computer gaming?
Start free. Don’t wait for someone to tell/teach you. Youtube/Udemy has free instruction, Unreal/Unity/Lumberjack are free game engines, Unity sometimes has free assets, TF3dm.com and sometimes cgtrader have free assets as well. If you want to do VR, Google Cardboard is the cheapest headset. There are other more permanent headsets that fit most phones. GearVR is the next cheapest. If you have access to it, get Oculus, possibly dk1 and 2 on eBay.
Create at least 2-3 VR samples for your portfolio even if they are short experiences.
"Show, don’t tell."
Is there anything we can support you with?
I would love to expand my network of programmers to help me with my projects. I am also about to take one of my projects to the next step and go to a funding campaign. Any advice for gaining funds would be great, if anyone knows of someone who has successfully done so. A network to promote my projects would be great as well.
Youtube VR Virtuoso
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