The Riot Animation Team: A SyncSketch case study
How do you ensure that creators from multiple disciplines, locations, and time zones can coordinate on work that reflects a unified vision? In Riot Games’s Research and Development, associate art director Lana Bachynski and her team wanted a more streamlined approach to creative reviews that would save their artists’ precious time and speed up iteration cycles.
Reviewing creative work across disciplines
20+ offices worldwide
Staying in sync
Enabling better cross-team collaboration
“Animators really sit at the center of game creation, which means we need to collaborate with each other and across disciplines as smoothly as possible,” Bachynski says. “SyncSketch empowers us to communicate well with other teams and sit at the hub of all the different pieces that need to come together – and do it efficiently.”
Her team works closely with character development, animation, FX, and 3D modeling, so aligning artists through feedback is critical to keep projects on track. “Having a really robust feedback tool that works for multiple disciplines, from concept art to 3D modeling, makes my job so much easier.”
Simplifying review cycles
For Bachynski, the ability to sync smoothly during reviews is the most important benefit they’ve gained. You can share a file, share your screen, try to get everyone on the same frame, or give feedback to one person at a time, but these methods are awkward and involve a lot of waiting around.
“Not having to go through multiple processes is a massive improvement,” Bachynski says. “What makes SyncSketch so special is the ability to have everybody on the same page, at the same time.” Because everyone provides feedback on the same version, there’s a single source of truth to point the way forward.
Collaborating across continents
For a team that spans multiple time zones, the ability to provide feedback asynchronously is critical.
“It’s not feasible for everybody to be everywhere at once,” says Bachynski. “I can’t go to every meeting, but I can pop in and add my feedback asynchronously, so we stay on track.”
Even with a dispersed team, performance is not an issue – drawovers appear onscreen without stuttering or distortion, so reviews proceed just as if everyone is in the same room. “There’s never been a moment when I’ve had to wait because someone’s connection is laggy or their drawing tools aren’t syncing,” she says.
Working with intuitive artist tools
SyncSketch’s advanced brush engine and artist-driven features are designed specifically for creative review workflows, so artists can work intuitively, in the way that suits them best. “SyncSketch has a highly robust toolset – basically everything you would ever want to use in a review,” notes Bachynski.
She named Compare and Ghosting (Onion-Skinning) as two favorite features she uses daily. Comparing versions makes tracking changes over time or demonstrating how to make improvements easy, and Ghosting allows her to communicate movement and other animation notes visually, right on the frame.
Powering more creativity and autonomy
“SyncSketch gives people the liberty to present their own piece of the project and participate fully in reviews. Everyone has a chance to step up and do work at the top of their ability, without waiting for an invitation,” says Bachynski.
“People feel comfortable and confident to jump in and give notes to each other or experiment with something new without constantly having to ping me for oversight. They know that I can check in,” she continues. “They can even go to somebody and ask, ‘Hey, can you upload that video to SyncSketch, because I have a note that is going to make this sing.’ They get in each other’s business in the best possible ways.”
That freedom has resulted in a team that can work independently while still harmonizing on the end product. “I want people to feel like they own the vision as much as I own the vision, and SyncSketch helps me create that kind of environment.”