We are simply busting to shout about the new directors we have added to our roster. We have grilled Matthieu, Maёl, Thomas, and Vincent who make up Blackmeal so that we can introduce them with a bang! So read on to learn more…
So, fellas how did you all meet?
Maёl: I used to go to art school with Matthieu from 2003 to 2005. We talked a few times about how we should build a studio one day but I moved to continue my study in Supinfocom and then out of France to the UK and onto California. We had always kept in close contact and when I was working as a lighting TD at Pixar in 2011 Matthieu told me of his plan to leave TBWA France to open his company. I told him to hold on and took a flight to Paris to meet his associates and talk about their project. I was working on Disney Brave at the time and moved back to France to join Blackmeal when the movie hit the big screens!
How did you learn your craft?
Maёl: Well, at first I wanted to be a physicist, or an engineer, I have always loved science and electronics. Art was a hobby, I mostly used to draw for myself or during class and exams. When I was in my first year in engineering school I discovered 3d graphics and decided to reorient my studies towards it. It was a perfect mix for me between technique and art. I learned most of it by myself during my first years at art school, and then went to Supinfocom to direct my own short film: “Al Dente”.
Thomas: I really started to learn my craft when I finished school. I really needed a job to be able to eat but also to allow time to develop my activity as a rough man and storyboard artist. To this end, I started work as a night watchman, where I had to sit in a small cabin whilst keeping watch on a barrier between two patrols. It was the perfect setup for me as I had a lot of time to work quietly on my storyboards whilst earning a salary. I did this job for a year before being able to live off my drawings.
Matthieu: I have always loved animation but never had Thomas’ or Vincent’s talent. My thing is rhythm and the graphical notion of movement. For me a motion designer has to perceive action, movement and animation from an artistic point of view first, technique and physics being less important to this particular process.
What has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
Maёl: It’s classic but every time I watch or even think about a Pixar movie it inspires me to develop my own skills and to get closer to what top level directors were doing. In 2009, I was finally part of that wonderful team and got my hands on my first shots for Toy Story 3, an amazing experience ensued where I was able to work with Woody and Buzz! It was an amazing experience and I learned so many valuable skills.
Matthieu: My parents are both physicians, so motion has always been a part of my life. Movie opening titles have also always fascinated me and I wanted to get closer to this universe in my work.
Who has inspired you the most?
Maёl: I wouldn’t say he inspired me the most, but I loved how Fritz Lang used to play with his sets and lighting on a movie; everything was cheated yet it looked amazing, my favorite movie by him is Caligary.
Matthieu: Maurice Binder was my biggest source of inspiration when I was young. I was lucky enough to be able to watch the James Bond movies over and over again.
Thomas: Katsuhiro Otomo. In my eyes, Akira is a perfect piece.
Vincent: I am a great admirer of the clever wit of Phil Tippet, the Coen brothers and Daniel Clowes.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
Maёl, Matthieu, Vincent and Thomas: We are most proud of our Marvel fan film - without any hesitation! We just had so much fun working on it and mixing everybody’s techniques to learn to work as a team. The end result is full of iconic character.
How do you approach a brief?
Matthieu and Maёl: Thanks to our experience, we tend to have a global view of each project: from the creative but also from the client’s side. Matthieu knows the market very well as he is a graphics junky and is always seeking the latest graphical, technological or marketing video. We try to always put ourselves in the client’s shoes to find the best idea and compromises in order to have the best team and project. Thomas starts by drawing his ideas first as putting his work on paper helps him to focus and organize his ideas. Vincent wears protective glasses then looks for the most amusing routes and quirks which will make the piece stand out from the crowd.
What software did you use for Rayban (this piece will be coming soon)?
Maёl: We used MAYA for the 3D and After Effects for compositing and some particles effects. The objects destruction was done using DMM, and the fluids were done in RealFlow. We also use ThinkBox DeadLine as a render dispatcher for our passes.
What was your inspiration for the piece?
Maёl: We spent a lot of time looking at slow motion videos, especially from theSlowMoGuys. The idea was to simulate a fanthom camera, but I wanted to give it a more sensible touch and we ended treating each object as a piece of art exposed on its pedestal in a museum.
What do you feel makes you different to other collectives?
Maёl: I would say that the main difference is that we are not only a collective, but also a visual effects studio with the tools, experience and artists to work on our projects. This allows us to take on a brief from A to Z, from script to final delivery through design, shooting, effects, animation, grading and editing. I think that being able to handle each step of production in house gives us the creative freedom and flexibility to offer our clients to work with a limited amount of intermediaries and in an environment where the information and dialog runs quickly and smoothly.
Matthieu: I see three key ways in which we are unique. One, we have a broad spectrum of complementary competences, two, our respective experiences in post production, marketing, communication agencies, art direction and motion design blend into a full 360 offering and finally, our network of web, agencies, cinema and television allows us to provide content for a variety of channels.
Vincent: Unlike the A-Team, our Baracus isn’t afraid of flying!
What would you say is the medium or technique of the moment?
Maёl: Right now we see a lot of CG in almost every commercial, to several extent. It is becoming more and more affordable to use vfx and animation, but what I am looking for is some of the news technologies coming from the video game industry: being able to have some feedback in real time would allow a lot more iterations and, while not necessarily decreasing the overall cost of production, being able to quickly try new ideas would greatly improve the quality of our work.
Matthieu: I think that will see now tools and media coming to the forefront of the industry too. Things move quickly in the digital world.
What would your dream brief be?
Maёl and Matthieu: A movie or TV show opening and ending titles!
Vincent: Any brief from my two favorite brands, Vans or Rice Krispies would make me the happiest man on the globe!
What was it like working for Pixar Maёl? Have you a memorable story from there?
Maёl: Being there was an humbling and amazing experience. They had the perfect balance between giving the artists some creative liberty while having a team environment where everybody learns something from the others all the time. I have a lot of funny stories, for example on Cars 2 we were swamped with work as there was a lot of shots to do in a short amount of time, and every time a shot was done it was said to be “blessed”. So one day in shot review, John Lasseter came in dressed as the Pope to give his blessing to our work!
Who would win a fight between Batman and Superman and Why?
Thomas:I think that Batman would win because he has the brain and money to find some kryptonite and make a bat-boomerang out of it.
Vincent: I prefer Batman because he is as famous without having superpowers. But he would get crushed in a direct fight...
Do you like dancing? If the answer is yes, which band or artist is your guilty pleasure?
Maёl: I would love to know how to dance the salsa and tango, but my feet just never seem to agree with me!
Matthieu: Where I come from we dance all the time, it’s a tradition. But it is also a tradition to wake up the next morning and having forgotten which song we danced to!
Vincent: To dance to the Grease mega-mix with my wife while imitating Travolta and Newton John is most definitely a guilty pleasure of mine!
Well that’s a wrap! We jellies cannot wait to see what’s to come…