Today we finally get the chance to talk to Mikael Burman who is Technical Supervisor with the Cinematics Department at Massive an Ubisoft Studio in Sweden.
http://www.massive.se. He was a member of the team that worked on Far Cry 3. It has taken some time to get this busy guy to answer our questions.

10 Engineering2

As always we start with some personal questions.

I guess all you guys had fun at the FarCry 3 release party.

Haha... well, I actually didn't attend it. :D I'm not so much for parties to be honest and I like to take any opportunity I can to spend time at home, writing music or doodling 3D. :) Yes, I am a lonewolf... :) But I'm sure that those who went to the party had a great time! :)

As an introduction Mikael, please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 35 years old. I grew up in Sala, a small town in the middle of Sweden. As with most small towns, there isn’t a lot to do, so I found myself playing drums in a death/thrashmetal band and also developed an interest in computers. In the year of 2000 I managed to make my first piece of animation using a mix of Imagine and LightWave on the Amiga.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I had got myself a Windows PC, running LightWave version 7 and was merely a hobbyist and did some VFX-work/commercial stuff, all for free, of course. Those weren't any high-end things at all, but getting into projects was good, because I learned a whole lot by doing it. And there is a certain motivation behind doing real projects compared to just noodling around by yourself.

In 2004 I managed to get a reel done, and got accepted to School of Future Entertainment (SOFE), and through that I learned Maya and got an internship at Fido Film, located in Stockholm. I was there (Fido Film) for almost 6 months as an intern and then got back to them as a freelancer, after graduating from SOFE in spring 2006. At this point I also had contact with the Cinematics Director at Massive Entertainment, who were looking to get more talent into the team... at the same time, Fido wanted to contract me to do more work for them, so I had some rough time deciding what I wanted to do... Eventually I decided to go to Massive Entertainment.

Apart from work, I picked up a Roland electronic drumkit a couple of years ago and I’m in the process of writing my own kind of rythmic metal/rock music and learning more about producing music. I also enjoy playing computer games, watch movies and TV-series and I tend to end up noodling around with 3D a lot in my spare time as well.

How long are you with Massive Entertainment?

I joined Massive 1st of September 2006... so... 6 years and 3 months, roughly.

Now we get to Massive Entertainment and for sure we want to hear some company secrets.

Tell us a little about Massive Entertainment? What is it like to work there?

Massive is located in Malmö, a large city in the south of Sweden. When I joined there were around 40 talents in total, today we are around 250; a mix of coders, graphics artists, producers, directors and managers.

Malmö is a fantastic city to live in. One of the things I noticed when moving down here from Stockholm was the much calmer atmosphere in the city; the pacing of everything feels less hectic, and generally, people smile a lot more down here. Since I grew up in a small town, Malmö is a lot more like that compared to Stockholm. It fits me quite well.

Working in the Cinematics team has been a whole load of fun, and, occasionally, a lot of hard work as well. Not that the work per see is hard, but there is sometimes a whole lot to do in a relatively short period of time, and since we are a very small team, it is sometimes comparable to climb a very large mountain, or, running a marathon, with the exception that you need to do it in a given timeframe. That can be tough depending on the project. And that is another factor that makes the Cinematics team so fun to work with; there are a wide vareity of projects... everything from logos to highres cinematics to realtime in-engine cinematics.

How large is your team and what are you working on?

The Cinematics team is a small team... we recently staffed up to make sure we can deliver a project in time, so we went from 11 people to around 16. The reason that we can stay relatively small for these kinds of projects is because of the multitasking abilities of each artist in combination with a multi-application pipeline. It does mean that each of us have to work harder and more (especially with larger projects), but at the same time, it offers each individual a bigger responsibility which, in turn, makes it more fun for the artists. This also means that we are a very flexible team; we can grow when needed, or outsource certain tasks if the talent we need is not available in-house.