On May 21
, the second annual UbiGallery event took place in Toronto. Where Ubisoft showcased young aspiring artists work across several colleges and universities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and beyond. Nine artists competed for the top honour of working for the company on a three month contract and only three would snag the top prize.
It was an exhausting process for the company selecting a winner across the 30 submissions they received. Scott Lee, Seniour Art Director at Ubisoft Toronto, talks about the honour of being the man to break the news and how tough it was select the best piece.
“I love it especially because its students. These are guys who are investing all their personal time into these projects,” said Lee. “But it’s really tough. We got a lot of entries this year and the skills of the finalists are almost interchangeable. It really kind of boiled down to if you were chosen to be one of the finalists you definitely have all the skills to work here but even more so about can you come in and start producing right away? Can you be a professional right away? And that’s how we picked our winner.”
The winner was lost for words when she was awarded best piece at the event. Lilian Chow, student at Seneca College, spoke about where her spark came from to recreate the man that brought us light, Thomas Edison.
“I was actually yarning in my room and I looked at the ceiling and I saw the light and right there I was like, ‘yeah! Lightbulb!’, she chuckled. “It’s a really important in human history right, so that was the spark.”
Surprisingly, she didn’t know much about Edison. She went through an extensive research period before approaching creation aspect.
“It took me awhile for just the research on Thomas Edison because I didn’t know anything about him,” she said. “ I found pictures of his studio and stuff and even searched up on his personality. That’s how I got the inspiration and I combined that with my creation.”
Lee expresses at length why ultimately her piece took top prize.
“Her piece really captured the moment where Thomas Edison discovered the light bulb. She really utilized all the elements and the emotional tone into it and that’s what we’re looking for,” Said Lee. “Light was a focus for this piece and she really used it well. The level of detail is amazing. She did two levels in his lab and showing where all the electricity has come from and all the books he was studying, just had her piece telling a story on ever inch of her piece.”
Everyone that was chosen to be finalists in the event all needed to have more than just raw talent. Managing Director at Ubisoft Toronto, Alex Parizeau spoke about what the studio looks for out of upcoming artists and what they need to thrive at their company.
“It’s important to have talent, but what were looking for is ‘culture fits’. This person needs to have the skills and the potential to grow because we’re working with big teams,” said Parizeau. ”So we’re looking for people that have good communication skills and for them to be able to work as a part of the team but are also curious to how things are done here.”
Lee believes studios that have exceptional team chemistry produce the best products. That’s what he looks for in the artists to have when coming to work for the company. For them to be able to give and receive feedback is pivotal in improving as a team.
“It’s about making the next artist better, if you have a lot of talent I feel like it really is your prerogative ultimately as you progress through your career is to be the person to make weaker artists better,” he said. “Someone that knows what’s popular in the industry and what’s good, that’s the person that adds to the team. It’s not a one-person job here; a game has hundreds of hands in it, that’s what teamwork is all about.”
Chow spoke about the opportunity that’s in front of her and what type of projects she’d like to work on. Her response might surprise you.
“It’s really unreal but I really like Trial Fusion. It’s a really funny game and it’s not a really big title like [Assassin’s Creed]or Far Cry, but I really enjoy playing that game,” she said. “I will work on anything because it’s all a learning opportunity for me.”
Parizeau is ecstatic about all the new talent in the area and has some lofty goals to become to be the second largest studio in the company in five years time.
“My goal is to continue with what we started here and to stay on target to reach our ambitious goal of 800 people by 2020,” he said.
For future aspiring artists in Toronto, Lee believes there location is the place to be but its up to them to prove themselves worthy.
“We think it’s a good position and opportunity. Once you get your foot in the door, it’s your position to lose. We’re hoping in the next three months these young artists will show us that they belong here.”