Short Film Interview: Team Hybrids on the Making of “Hybrids”
October 31, 2018 – We interview Team Hybrids on the making his short film “Hybrids”.
Award-winning CG-animated short film Hybrids, directed by MoPA students Florian Brauch, Kim Tailhades, Matthieu Pujol, Yohan Thireau and Romain Thirion, is now available to watch online as a Vimeo Staff Pick!
Hybrids is an eco-responsible CG animated short film film directed in 2017 by 5 French 3D artists during their studies at MoPA, animation school in France. The short received numerous accolades by the CGI & VFX industry. for its outstanding achievement in the Visual effect and CGI work quality, and has won awards in festivals including the COLCOA, the Visual Effects Society, and the Sitges Film Festival where it received the Oscar Qualifying prize for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the upcoming 91st Academy Awards.
//The Interview From Florian Brauch, Matthieu Pujol, Kim Tailhades, Yohan Thireau, Romain Thirion
Could you introduce yourselves to the community?
We are 5 co-directors, coming from France, Switzerland and New Caledonia. We were reunited at School MoPA in Arles (France) and Hybrids was our graduation short film. 4 of us grew up next to the sea and it was why we choose to showcase this topic.
Where did the idea for Hybrids come from? Where did you find your inspiration?
The idea came from Romain who’s from Cannes in the south of France. He used to dive to glaze at the underwater animals. As time went by he noticed that there were less and less fishes and more and more trashes. Every time he would spot something shiny buried in the sand thinking it was some interesting form of life, it turned out to be a bottle cap instead, igniting the first spark which inspired the film.
He shared this experience with the rest of the team and it drove us to create a short film to denounce this change.
Could you tell us more about your school and your graduation movie?
Hybrids is our graduation short film from MoPA, in Arles (France). It was a 5-year course. The first 2 years were mainly about learning the art basics and reinforcing our art culture. Then in the 3rd year, each of us directed and produced a 1-min short film where we did everything alone to learn each part of an animated production. In the 4th year, we specialized. Kim, Matthieu and Romain learned more about everything concerning the picture (modeling, sculpting, lighting, comp, fx, texturing) and Yohan and Florian focused on the animation part (animation, rig, cloth, script). And the 5th year was for the production of Hybrids.
Being a Director/Supervisor, what prompted you to shoot a short featuring VFX and CG filmmaking?
Because of the nature of the project, the mix between litters and animals, the project can only exist in a CG environment and we hope that it will remain a sci-fi.
The school we did is a CG school as well, so doing CG animated short film is what we are the best at, and we wanted to use this skill to do the best short film we can.
Tell us more about your workflow on this project.
Each one of us was skilled in his own field in addition of having a strong generalist knowledge. That helped us a lot to define who would be in charge of what while receiving directions and feedback from the others. It was kinda departement based where each department had one lead and 4 artists.
Hybrids got so many awards and achievements? How does that feel? Share some special achievements?
It is really awesome. We were in our room at school, trying to do our best, but at this time we were not expected something like that. For us it’s really a great opportunity to travel and bing the short film in so many different country, we discover different culture, see different kind of audience watching the short film and it was very rewarding.
Recently we did a tour of some US animation studios and with the win at Siggraph and VES, it’s is something incredible for us. We were able to meet and discuss with the people we were looking at when we were young and we learned a lot speaking with them about how they did a film in comparison with how we did.
Hybrids’s pre-production to post-production has taken a long time. How was this managed and what was your approach when working with a small team?
It takes a long time in comparison with the studios, but we were only five to do everything. It was really great, because each one had a relative part in the project and we were able to react to difficulties very fast.
What is your favourite scene in Hybrids? What’s your most challenging scene in Hybrids?
We had many challenging scenes, you could say one for each department (modeling, lighting, anim, fx, render, compositing…) the scene where the grouper gets eaten was very challenging on all aspects, the anim ad timings had to be perfect, the lighting and rendering had a lot to tackle and same thing for the FXs. It was a great team work from everyone to be able to release that shot on schedule with the look and feel we had in mind.
What was the challenges faced in terms of VFX and 3D on Hybrids?
Really early in the idea stage, we knew that we would have some huge challenges.
We wanted to play with animals scale (having tiny and huge animals, sometime in the same shot) and a lot of them.
With all these challenges, we tried to be careful on the time spent on each production stage, and we tried a lot of different thing at first to find the ideas and the look we wanted, and do early tests and RnD of everything at early stages to be sure it was doable.
After that we go quickly in a previz stage to lock all the key moments of the film and try to avoid redoing multiple time the same shot or sequence.
We knew that we would have to learn new stuffs through the production, because we never used crowd before, and almost all the film is underwater, and it changes everything. We had to adapt the animation, the lighting, the way we were doing the fx and the compositing, it’s almost like if we had to learn everything again or at least transpose the techniques we knew.
But all of us already did some professional internships and we tried to bring everything we learned to achieve what we wanted.
We build the team to have someone who really knows his field, so we had Romain for the Concepts, Modelling and Compositing / Kim for the Environments, the Squid and the Lightings / Yohan for the Rig and the Animation / Florian for the Layout and Animation and Matthieu for the Crabs and the FX. We were doing a lot of dailies and each one had the opportunity to push the idea further, but in the end, it was the teammate in his department who can say if it was doable or not in the condition we had, like a veto card or final approval.
For the hardware, we had our computer and were able to render on all the school computer during the night, but we were 8 teams in the school, with the same deadline, so you can imagine how it happened and that you have to share a lot of resources with everybody. We had to be smart and ultra efficient with the renders or simulations to avoid long render time.
How did companies like Allegorithmic and Foundry support you during this process?
Those two companies first helped us through promoting the short film with articles they wrote about us and the film. Both times we did a written interview which was showcased on their website. When the Oscars campaign started, they supported us financially to travel around the world to screen the movie.
Share something about Collaborative problem solving at Hybrids? Any resources research for this short film?
Each of us has his own speciality, we were kind of leads in our department, but all of us were giving notes and advice to bring the shot to a higher level. It was really important for us to do dailies so each of us had the opportunity to say what was possible to do and what wasn’t and what we could improve. Doing that was really our best tool to avoid losing time and it’s perhaps the main key to the efficient making of the film.
Creating Realistic CG Characters with Effects is challenging. How did you manage that?
We had a lot of experience prior to making this movie thanks to personal work and a lot of internships as well. We knew what we could and couldn’t do on time. For each shot, each sequence we were bidding time and resources to be sure it was doable. For some of the trickiest effects we were doing some RnD alongside of the preproduction to avoid any surprises.
Creating Realistic CG Quality with Rendering is challenging. How did you manage that for Rendering?
For rendering we made sure that all of our shaders were consistent in the same environment test: if you put all the characters in the same lighting environment they look coherent. Then it was a matter of recreating some underwater lighting that suited the sequence mood. For the rendering we managed to be smart enough to keep our render times between 15 and 45 mins a frame, the the compositing was playing an essential part of bringing everything together in an underwater world.
How did it enhance your texturing workflow on this project? How did you manage that?
Our texturing workflow was really enhanced by the fact that we could reuse our own presets of textures such as rusty metal, underwater rocks, and fish skin. As we were working on photorealistic textures, Substance Painter was really an accurate tool.
A huge advantage of Substance Painter, as previously said, was the reusability of our presets. For the crab army we had to find the right feel for one crab and then we had the ability to very quickly randomize it to get the entire army, shifting some masks and colors.
The creation of the squid was different from the other characters. Since it was very large, we had to work with different UDIMs for the organic part of the head. For this part, it was mainly textures generated for the base and a lot of painting.
For the metal parts of the whole plane we worked each item separately. The materials we found on Substance Share helped us a lot.
You have experience in CG production. What differences did you notice between CG and live-action filmmaking production?
We have to create everything, you get nothing for free. We were able to have a complete control on everything, the camera, backgrounds, sets, … We were free for the lighting as well, we didn’t have to match a plate. What we loved in CG filmmaking is that you can do exactly what you want.
How many years did it take to develop Hybrids? What software and plugins did you use?
It took us 9 months from scratch to finish.
We used Maya, ZBrush, Substance Painter, Arnold, Houdini, Golaem, Nuke.
Any future projects or anything you want to share with us? What are your projects for next year?
It will come sooner than expected, because it was really a blast doing this film. And Romain already started working on a new short film, but this time it will be live action. So keep tuned !
Many thanks to Team Hybrids for sharing with us his experiences on the making of his short film. We are eagerly awaiting the next one.
Team Hybrids Credits
Directors: Florian Brauch, Matthieu Pujol, Kim Tailhades, Yohan Thireau, Romain Thirion
Writers: Florian Brauch, Matthieu Pujol, Kim Tailhades, Yohan Thireau, Romain Thirion
Producer: MoPA (school)
Storyboard / Layout: Florian Brauch
Modelling / Texturing: Matthieu Pujol, Kim Tailhades, Romain Thirion
Rig: Yohan Thireau
Animation: Florian Brauch, Yohan Thireau
FXs: Matthieu Pujol
Lighting: Kim Tailhades
Compositing: Romain Thirion
Sound Design: Florian Brauch, Matthieu Pujol, Kim Tailhades, Yohan Thireau, Romain Thirion
Music: Vincent Govindin
Distributor: Francois Heiser for Yummy Films
Team Hybrids Photos
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