Lead Cinematic Animator

  • Santa Monica  
  • Company
    Start date
  • Closing date
    1 January 2020  
    Posted on
    3 December 2019  

The Initiative is a new first-party game studio located in Santa Monica backed by Microsoft. Our studio is about craft, creating story, innovating, and looking ahead to the next big thing.

At the Initiative, we are looking for collaborative problem solvers who want to dive into something new and create groundbreaking experiences for our players. Join us for this once in a career opportunity to help build the studio, define our culture, and create an environment to attract world-class talent.

The Initiative has an immediate opening for a Lead Cinematic Animator to build and lead our cinematics animation department. As Lead Cinematics Animator, you will be able to clearly define goals to the team and align with the project mission and ambitions across disciplines. You will be able to take your years of experience in animating expressive motion, telling stories through movement, and building teams to set industry standards in animation and apply this to an ambitious new project. You are versatile, have strong development and production-sense, and the expertise to inspire and mentor others to do their best work.


  • Work closely with the team to establish and execute a cinematic animation style and ensure unified look and consistent quality.
  • Provide mentorship, animation feedback, and training to animation teams.
  • Assisting in hiring/selection of internal and external animation staff and partners.
  • Work with the animation and narrative teams to create previz (storyboards/animatics), and production animations that help define the look and feel of the game.
  • Maintain and communicate a strong knowledge of innovative production technologies and the capabilities/limitations of these technologies as they relate to the project goal.
  • Actively contribute to growth of new start up studio: lead by example, including demonstrating a willingness to give and receive feedback, collaborate with others to share techniques, ideas, and contribute to a positive working environment.



  • A strong reel that demonstrates grasp of cinematic fundamentals and passion for visual storytelling: character performance, action and acting, facial animation and cinematography.
  • 7+ years of Cinematic Animation experience in both keyframe and motion capture editing.
  • Strong understanding of traditional animation principles and fundamentals, able to demonstrate an exceptional visual/technical understanding of animation mechanics.
  • Interest and demonstrated experience with cinematography, composition and camera language.
  • Up-to-date experience with facial animation rigs, high quality facial performance and pipelines.
  • Experience in working within game engine, cinematic pipelines.
  • Proficiency to work quickly in Maya and MotionBuilder.


  • Strong mindset for organizing, pre-production and planning.
  • Pre-production minded; experience with planning cinematics through previs and documentation.
  • Self-directed and takes initiative to drive progress.
  • Strong communication, leadership and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience leading, building and developing high functioning teams.
  • Gameplay animation experience, mocap and keyframe, player characters and NPCs.
  • Deeper familiarity with film language, cinematography and camera techniques and lens.
  • Experience with casting, organizing and direction of on-stage direction of mocap talent.
  • Ability to quickly prototype and iterate in collaboration with others.
  • Scripting skills a plus but not required.


Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances.  We also consider qualified applicants regardless of criminal histories, consistent with legal requirements. If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form.


Benefits/perks listed below may vary depending on the nature of your employment with Microsoft and the country where you work.

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