SHS grad excels in gaming industry
By JENNA BUZZACCO
Chad Greene has the job of every little boy’s dreams. He goes to work in shorts and sandals, plays basketball on his lunch break and has unlimited access to refrigerators full of free soda. Greene, a 1988 Sandusky High School graduate, has spent the last 12 years as a computer generated designer for both popular video games and movies. A gamer since the early days of computer technology, Greene, 34, said he knew he wanted to be a computer artist when he first started playing games on his Commodore 64. After graduating from Sandusky High School, Greene went to Bowling Green State University, getting his bachelor’s in fine arts in illustration and computer arts in 1992. Greene didn’t start in video games though. Greene got his break
as a member of the Emmy-winning team at Fox that designed and illustrated the broadcast opening and opening line-up for the Detroit Pistons broadcast. Greene was responsible for the concept, storyboarding, modeling, texturing, lighting, animation and art direction on the project.
From Fox, Greene went to Crystal Dynamics in Palo Alto, Calif., and then to Acclaim Entertainment in New York City. For a year and a half, Greene served as the project lead for popular video games Turok the Dinosaur Hunter and Magic: The Gathering. But, Greene said he missed the West Coast and was unsatisfied with the video game industry.“At the time, doing video games as an artist was really limiting because of the lack of technology,” Greene said.
If winning an Emmy for his first job wasn’t enough, Greene landed a job as a lighter for PDI/Dreamworks, where he was responsible for creating the final rendered image with lighting software and a 3D paint system for textures. PDI/Dreamworks is the production company that has produced “Antz” and “Shrek.” “My favorite project to date has got to be ‘Shrek,’” Greene said of the Academy Award-winning film. “It was a great cast and crew to work with. And seeing the quality of the film makes me want to make games look that good.”
Video games kept calling Greene, and after a few years with PDI/Dreamworks, he found himself as a technical art director at EA Games, one of the largest video game producers in the world. Working at EA allowed Greene to work hand-in-hand with Tiger Woods for his 2001 and 2002 video games.
Greene then decided to take a job at Midway Entertainment in Chicago, where he was responsible for making cut-scene movies. Cut-scene movies give “the gamer a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the story for a little bit,” Green said. Greene and his crew designed and created cut-scene movies for Mortal Kombat 5 and Major League Slugfest ’03.
After two years, Chicago winters and the need to be closer to the industry brought Greene back to California.“I realized how much I missed California,” Greene said. “And I guess I realized that I missed being around the 'heart of the industry'. So I moved back to California and I went back to the movies.”Greene worked for Sony Pictures/Imageworks, serving as the lighter on “Spiderman 2” and in the upcoming Tom Hanks’ film, “The Polar Express.”
When work on “The Polar Express” finished, Greene said he got a call from EA Games in Los Angeles, to become a lead artist on Goldeneye 2, the newest James Bond video game. “The hours are long, but the work is actually fun,” Greene said. “The company provides free dinners, they have an on-site massage therapist, we have a full free game room with electric massage chairs, pool tables and video games. We have a large on-site library with nearly every magazine, book or video game ever created.”While Greene said he works a 12-hour day, it’s broken up between long lunches and basketball games on the full on-site basketball court.“Our work atmosphere is very casual; that’s the great thing about working in the entertainment industry in general, are so laid back,” Greene said. “There is no 9 to 5 hours, instead it’s based on ‘get the job done however you can’ belief, which means people can come and go. It’s not unusual to find the workplace busy at 9 at night and later.”
Greene said he plans on staying in the video game industry for as long as possible. “Working in video games allows you more creativity and freedom,” Greene said. “Working in the industry allows you to be involved more in the design of the game, you’re involved more as an all-around artist, and with the new technology around the corner-- it's a great time to be working in video games!"