Half a world away from his home town of Bunbury, Western Australia, Andrew Svanberg Hamilton is currently working as an art director at the recently formed Embark Studios, part of the thriving game dev community in Stockholm, Sweden. It’s been quite a journey to get there, both physically and in terms of the twists and turns his career path has taken.
“I don’t think I would be where I am today if I hadn’t failed, if I hadn’t succeeded—I think they all played a part,” he says. “There’s definitely been some difficult times, but equally some incredible times, and all of those things combine, just make up to the type of art director I am today.”
Andrew is now enjoying an exciting and challenging role helping to shape the vision for a rich, new world for Embark’s as-yet-untitled maiden offering, but living on the other side of the world from your home and family can leave some gaping holes in the psyche. While his imported Vegemite serves as a potent physical reminder of home, Andrew has been driven to create a more poignant memoir of his childhood in his short film Memories of Australia, animated and rendered entirely in Unreal Engine.
Andrew credits much of his creativity to growing up in a rural environment. “I wish everybody could have that kind of freedom as a kid,” he says. “I think it makes you feel very creative just running through the bush and creating all kinds of things out of sticks. I think it works the mind so much more than living in a city as a child.”
Credit: Memories of Australia
Andrew has always loved nature, and has traveled extensively to find inspiration in it, from Iceland to the Redwood forests of California. His desire to replicate it digitally has served him well in his background as an environment artist. But recreating his childhood surroundings and memories of time spent with his much-loved family has had a special importance.
“Memories of Australia is a kind of little love letter to Australia and my childhood and the memories from those times. It's a collection of thoughts and smells and sounds,” he says.
You can sense Andrew’s emotional investment in the piece, and that’s intentional. He lost his brother some years ago, and the short film has helped to preserve some of his favorite memories of happy times spent with his sibling. “Memories of Australia is definitely a project that has my emotions on my sleeve,” he says. “It's clearly about nostalgia; you see the brothers in the canoe and it's clear that there is some more to it than just showing the nature.
“Some of the memories of us together, of the things that we did, it's not something that a lot of people know about, but it's always there. And it was nice to bring a little bit of that piece of me out. The peaceful canoe rides, the sound of the birds running through the bush...it's all these small moments that aren't really special in themselves, but all together, there is just this great peaceful feeling of a childhood that I think I'm very lucky to have had.”
Credit: Memories of Australia
The film has resonated with many who have seen it. “A lot of people have reached out—other Australians who live overseas, or people's mothers—all kinds of people have reached out to say they get it; they feel that emotion coming through. So it's got the point across that is not just about the game art, but it's about the storytelling.”
Want to make your own real-time short film?
If you’re inspired by Andrew’s story, you can download Unreal Engine for free and do some storytelling of your own. For more inspiration, follow the latest trends in interactive 3D on The Pulse, our thought-provoking video series.