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Berlinale 2022 – EFM

Dossier industrie: Animation

À l’EFM, des experts explorent les points d’intersection entre animation, jeux vidéos, VR, AR et XR


BERLINALE 2022 : Trois intervenants ont évoqué pour l’audience leur travail, les opportunités que ces croisements peuvent créer à l’avenir et la manière dont cela va faire évoluer la narration

À l’EFM, des experts explorent les points d’intersection entre animation, jeux vidéos, VR, AR et XR
de gauche à droite : La modératrice A. C. Coppens, Kim Adams, Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull et Oriane Hurard pendant la table ronde

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

On day 1 of this year’s European Film Market (10-17 February), AC Coppens moderated a panel entitled “How the Future of Animation Changes (with) Tech”. As the boundaries between the different creative industries favour cross-pollination, the three invited experts were asked to talk through their work, the future opportunities these new intersections can bring, and how they can affect storytelling in animation and gaming. After their opening remarks, Coppens introduced Kim Adams, director of real-time production for US-based Nexus Studios; Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull, co-founder of the UK’s HaZimation; and Oriane Hurard, producer at France’s Atlas V.

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Dulull spoke about HaZimation, which operates in the fields of gaming, animation and the metaverse, even though it almost switched fully to animation owing to the pandemic. The team is multifaceted, as it includes artists, programmers, producers and animators, and is now working on projects such as Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, a feature based on the game of the same name; a pilot episode of Battlesuit; and their own original IP, Rift. He showed one of Rift’s opening scenes, “completely done in the Unreal Engine, with no layering and available in 4K”. The project is expected to be ready by June 2022.

Adams talked through the technical evolution of animation over the past several years, including the work she oversaw at Oculus Story Studio, such as Dear Angelica (a female-centric VR work, and the first to have its scenes construct themselves around the user, wherein each component appears as individual strokes rendered in real time), and the Emmy Award-winning narrative VR project Wolves in the Walls. Adams is currently at Nexus Studios, an animation, film and interactive studio based in Los Angeles and London, where the team is busy developing a series using a hybrid approach of Maya and Unreal. Patrick Osborne’s This Tape Deck Is a Time Machine will allow developers to be “more agile and make creative decisions earlier in the process”. The team has been using game engines to transform traditional animation pipelines in the process and has gained vast expertise in engine-stylised rendering techniques so that their characters “can live and respond across multiple, interoperable formats”. 

Hurard explained that her Paris-based studio currently employs 100 people working on VR, AR, XR and immersive experiences. The rich line-up of projects will be further expanded this year with titles such as the AR experience Fortune, and the new episodes 3, 4 and 5 of the 8x8 series Missing Pictures (the first two parts of which were directed by Abel Ferrara and Tsai Ming-Liang). Along with Albyon, Atlas V covers a wide range of activities spanning content IP, 3D animation, interactivity, development, publishing, publicity, international sales and marketing. She also touched upon some other ground-breaking projects produced by the studio. One of them was On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World), which used innovative documentary storytelling and virtual production techniques to recreate the lived experiences of people who, for 38 minutes, had to react and make impossible decisions in the face of a nuclear threat.

Next, Koppens asked the three panellists to define the real “game changers” that are shaping the future of animation. Adams answered that game engines have been crucial, since “it is not a matter of just watching a film any more, but it allows users to walk around and follow the characters”. This obviously affects directors’ and animators’ work, as they don’t know exactly what viewers will look at. New developments are coming in as a natural consequence of the growing demand for interactive entertainment, she argues, a process that had already started with escape rooms and interactive theatre plays.

Hurard mentioned the “whole metaverse” as a game changer, even though she acknowledged that, as it stands, it is still more of an individual experience, whereas the ultimate goal should be to create a shared, multiplayer experience within a virtual environment. Meanwhile, Dulull highlighted how, with real-time engine animation, “you can fast-track things very quickly and potentially show a five- to ten-minute excerpt of your movie”, and how this makes things easier for everyone and at every stage, including pitching.

In the last part of the panel, Adams suggested that in the future, we will see more and more tech companies partnering with entertainment outfits, and their collaborations will not focus solely on longer formats, but also on live, real-time interactions with stylised characters. For Dulull, the real challenge won’t be achieving photorealism, but rather building identity and stimulating the production of user-generated content. Finally, Hudard tackled the topic of sustainability, which, together with inclusion and equality, is becoming a crucial element in production and if the aim is to receive public funding.

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