In this Faces of Unity post, we highlight Dave Hunt, our Lead Technical Artist in Copenhagen. Learn more about Dave as he shares about his career journey and work-life balance as a parent here at Unity!
What do you do at Unity?
My position at Unity is Lead Technical Artist of the R&D Graphics teams in Copenhagen. In this role, I get to collaborate with the Technical Artists on Graphics Foundation and Lighting teams that are based here in Copenhagen. We work closely with engineers building new features in early development and testing them out for production. We also do a lot of educational outreach work once the features are released at conferences like GDC and SIGGRAPH. My specialization is rigging and technical animation, so I also collaborate a lot with the Animation Team based in Montreal. And I often travel back to my old home in Seattle to meet with the R&D Graphics team leadership. Luckily, I like traveling so it works out well!
Where were you before joining Unity?
Previously, I worked as the Rigging Technical Art Lead at Bungie for about 12 years where I contributed to multiple games from the Halo and Destiny series. My work at Bungie was mainly focused on rigging characters and objects for these games and building tools to help animators and 3D artists work more efficiently. It was awesome getting to collaborate with such talented creative people and to share our work with millions of gamers.
What made you decide to work at Unity?
It was a natural next step for me to transition from commercial game development to working here at Unity where our product is a game engine. Here, the animation tools I am helping build are released to millions of creators who will use them to make their own games and real-time 3D experiences of all kinds. This is a constant source of inspiration for me because, in the world of conventional tools, rigging can be very complicated - it requires specialists and takes too much time. With the new tools we are building at Unity I'm able to help make it easier for everyone to create high-quality rigging and animation in their projects. It is so gratifying when I get to hear stories about how people in our community have benefited from the new animation tools and used them in creative ways to tell their stories.
What's it like balancing being a parent and working at Unity?
It's really cool being a parent and working at Unity because games are something kids can relate to. A few years ago I sent my son to a game development summer camp where he learned how to make his own games in Unity. He got really inspired and made a bunch of great game prototypes of his own. Now that I work at Unity sometimes my kids like to come into the office and see what I'm working on - actually, I think they mostly like to come here for the free snacks. ;)
What cool projects have you worked/are you working on?
One of the cool things I worked on at Unity was a research project on real-time motion capture, which I presented at the SIGGRAPH Courses in 2018. I got to personally try out multiple different techniques for authoring motion capture in Unity and evaluated the trade-offs between quality and accessibility. The tools are getting much cheaper and easier to use these days and it's really fun playing around with this in real-time in the Unity Editor, as you can see in this video called Unity Hybrid Optical/Inertial Mocap Test we made here in the Unity Copenhagen office last year.
Tell us about your involvement in Siggraph 2019.
I will be co-presenting a Studio Workshop at this year's SIGGRAPH to teach Advanced Use Cases of the Animation Rigging Package. It's a big step forward with the new tools we are releasing in Unity 2019.2 that will make productions a lot more efficient now that they can work directly in the Unity Editor to author new animations. I'm super excited to share this with Unity users and I cannot wait to see the creative things our community can make using the new tools. I will also be hosting a discussion in the SIGGRAPH Educators Forum about teaching VR animation production in Unity based on my work as a teacher at University of Washington in the Animation Capstone program and the UW Reality Lab.
Have you met any professional milestones at Unity? If so, what?
The biggest professional milestone I have met so far at Unity is being part of shipping the Animation Rigging package for Unity 2019.1. I was involved as a Technical Artist on this project from the very beginning and I'm super happy with how it turned out. We gave a GDC Developer Days presentation and then we followed up with a post on the Unity blog. Next, we will be presenting about new features for Animation Rigging in Unity 2019.2 at SIGGRAPH. It has been an exciting journey so far and I really enjoy getting to interact with the Unity community in this way.
What do you enjoy about Unity company culture?
What I love most about Unity company culture is that we are so international. I get to work closely with people from all over the world and this is so interesting to me. Here at the Copenhagen office, I have made many new friends from all over Europe. This always makes for an interesting conversation at the lunch table where I get to learn about each of their cultures and views of history and current events. I really appreciate hearing the different perspectives and it helps me understand more about myself too. I made a trip to the Unity office in Singapore a while back and it was really cool to meet a bunch of great folks working there from all over Southeast Asia. And I’m particularly fond of the French Canadian culture in Montreal as I have spent a lot of time working with them on the new animation tools. I feel like this is an important thing, finding ways to work together well with people from different cultures. It’s great that we get to practice this while working at Unity.
What would you tell someone considering a career at Unity?
For anyone considering a career at Unity, I would say the following: Unity is a place for people who are passionate about what they do. It can be very challenging in this job because we have such a large community who uses Unity in such diverse ways and we need to support all of them as much as possible. This also comes with big rewards because there is a great feeling that comes from helping people become creators. It requires a lot of passion to push through the challenging work and find the best way forward - I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy! But for people like myself, this is very gratifying and I could hardly imagine another place where I could have the same kind of opportunity to help so many people be creative as I do here.
If you’re interested in learning more about opportunities to work with Dave, his team, or at Unity, check out our careers page! We’re hiring!