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Going Beyond the "Call of Duty": The journey and challenges behind a career in Animation

The Vegan Survival Guide is a personal project, kind of like a "baby" to me, lol. As you will see, it was never really part of my plan, but sometimes the best things happen on their own. :)

My passion for animation and video-games started when I was a child. I loved drawing cartoons, caricatures and loved designing my own flip books. I remember in kindergarten always wanting to finish my drawings and the teacher having to drag me out to play outside... I also remember whenever the teacher left the room I would quickly grab some chalk and try to draw caricatures of my friends on the board as quickly as possible before the next teacher would enter the room. lol.

Like many other artists, my family did not believe Animation was a real career and encouraged me to study engineering instead. After graduating from High School I attended engineering classes... ughhh (unless you like that kind of thing of course :). For me it definitely wasn't fulfilling. I cried like a little girl, lol.... begging my parents.... "Please, just let me follow my dreams."

My mom used to say, "Artists sell paintings on the street... they don't make any money. Do you wanna end up selling paintings for pennies?"

Around that time, traditional hand-drawn animation was coming to its end. But after attending a Study in the USA Expo in Brazil I learned about Computer Animation... But,

I didn’t even know how to use computers when I got started, nor English for that matter, lol. But my desire to be an artist was stronger than anything.

As I shared in The VSG's intro, my family wasn't exactly supportive of my career initially. So even though money was short while in school I feared sharing any problems and risking my parents interrupting my studies. To make ends meet, I forced myself to survive in a diet of bananas and ramen noodles or whatever it was most affordable. A true "starving artist diet", lol.

At E3 during release of the original Call of Duty, 2003 Game of the Year. COD won 37 Game of the Year awards, 16 Editor's Choice awards and 9 other awards.

Fun facts: During production of COD 2, animators had lessons in acting, military tactics, weapons, and shooting.

After finishing school I was fortunate enough to join the former members of EA’s Medal of Honor who had just started a game company called Infinity Ward. We began working day and night to develop the 1st, of the now multi-billion dollar game franchise called "Call of Duty". I was lucky enough to be the only woman on Call of Duty's original team and wanted to inspire other women to pursue their dreams as well. I was blessed with opportunities to continue working on a variety of awesome video-game titles and had a lot of fun working on these projects. On my free time I also trained in martial arts, which came in handy when animating for games. ;) I learned that in the entertainment industry having an extra edge such as martial arts training, or whatever that may be, will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. You sorta of have to go beyond the Call of Duty, lol.

Call of Duty 2: Level Duhoc Animations of soldiers in Higgins Boat

Fun facts: In COD2 we modelled and named soldiers after ourselves... Private Escher helped the squad capture Bergstein and Hill 400. He is wounded while charging up the hill and was seen in the communications bunker with the wounded. During the attack on Wallender he was killed in Hamburger Alley in a crossfire. He used a BAR (Light Machine Gun). I'm vegan so of course I was killed in Hamburger Alley, lol.

Then at the peak of my career things tragically came to an end... I had to leave my job to help my dad who was battling cancer... a story I tell at BudwigDVDs.com. Losing my dad, putting my career on hold, moving to a different city... it was definitely overwhelming. I'm forever thankful to my dad, who believed in me and supported me in following my dreams. This also made me realize the importance of taking care of your health. I had been a vegan my whole life and realized I had neglected my own health as well. :/ When life gets busy it's easy to live on a sub-optimal diet already, and when you are a vegan you have to pay even closer attention. Writing The VSG just kind of happened.

Life threw me a curve ball and made me realize that I had something to share!

Now I'm also dedicated to spread the word about healthy eating and how to incorporate it into your life.

Past projects: "The Vegan Survival Guide", "A Day in the Budwig Diet" DVD (Spring 2010) and "A Day in the Budwig Diet: The Book" (Fall 2011).

 

 

A Journey in Game Development

Here are some articles and photos from past projects.

Dozens of articles were published on the smack-down video-game (2009)
Call of Duty II is cover of PC Gamer (April 2005)
Call of Duty is cover of PC Gamer (2003)
Another of many Call of Duty covers (2003)
E3 Game Conference article for TKD Times and photos by UE (Sept 2005)
The Chicago Tribune interviews Ursula about women who work in game development (2004)

(Behind the screen: Women make a mark in gaming world) Ursula Escher, an animator for Infinity Ward, grew up in Brazil wanting to draw cartoons for television. After insisting that her relatives sit for her while she drew their portraits, she persuaded them to let her go to art school in Florida. Borrowing a lesson from her second life as a manager of a karate school, Escher urges more women to get into game development: "They think it's a guy's thing, and it's not true. They need to see it. That's what happens in karate, too." — Chicago Tribune, 2004

 

Being from Brazil I've always loved martial arts and I'm always happy either training, teaching or learning. Plus it came in handy when bringing characters to life as an animator. :)

Perfoming with Capoeira Batuque. Ursula's martial arts training helped her in her work as a Character Animator for video-games
Escher with Professor John Machado (2nd from left), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Teacher
Kung Fu Magazine's Photo Shoot with Ursula and Tom, who is also a game developer and very talented martial artist!
Ursula getting ready to play "Roda" at the annual Batizado hosted by several great Mestres

 

In Game Cinematics Demo Reels and Game Trailers
[In Game Cinematics] Level Du-Hoc Character Animations:
[In Game Cinematics] COD2 Russian Level Animations:
How we made it (Making of COD2):
WWE Smackdown! vs Raw 2009:
Turning Point:
Silent Hill Origins:
Call of Duty 2:
Call of Duty United Offensive:
Call of Duty Game of the Year 2003:

 

linkedin.com/in/uescher

WWE Smackdown! vs Raw 2009 (Spring 2009)
Martial Arts Mo-Cap clean up
Fighting Scene
MMA Techniques
Fighting Scene
Fighting Scene
Fighting Scene
Turning Point: Fall of Liberty
Running scared animations
Weapons
Panic animations
(Gameplay)
Grappling animations
Hanging behavior animations
Silent Hill: Origins
In Game Cinematics
Combat Animations
Combat Animations
In Game Cinematics: Riding the truck
Call of Duty 2
Animations of soldiers riding the tank
Sitting, looking around, jumping out, etc
Call of Duty Cover Story, PC Gamer April 2005
Many behaviors and sets of animations of soldiers operating the Flak 88
Flak 88 Animations
Flak 88 Animations
Many behaviors including breathing idles, crouching, vomiting, scared, running out, etc
Corner Behaviors
Call of Duty 1 (2003 Game of the Year)
Animation of wounded man
Cover Behaviors
Cover Behaviors
Flak 88 Animations
Flak 88 Attack Animations
Aim Idle Animations

 

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Fabulous!!!! Easy to read, well organized, FULL of beneficial information that will keep you wanting to learn more :-)

Unique addition to my vegan cookbook collection.

Good guide for your health if you're vegan or not.

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