Fueled by his passion for Animation & VFX, Kevin Simorre – Lead FX at Mikros Animation, embarked on a career filled with exciting projects, which led him to one of his favourite childhood franchises: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles🍕
In honor of the franchise’s latest movie, we chatted about all things Turtle Brothers & Animation in our Behind The Shell Q&A with Kevin. Check it out below 🐢
Q: Hi Kevin, can you tell us about your career journey into Mikros Animation?
A: Hi !
I first started working at Mikros Animation in 2015, on special effects for a live-action series and on an animated film test for a potential client.
I was pleasantly surprised by this test, as the style was different from what other studios were doing at the time. Further to this, we had chosen to use the Houdini software, which at the time wasn’t yet widely used in French studios. I felt there was a real desire to stand out from the crowd and offer something new, and I really liked that.
I then worked on animated films for other studios, which were undoubtedly very interesting projects but to me, they lacked something.
Two years ago, I was then offered a position as FX Artist on The Tiger’s Apprentice film. Hoping to recapture the spirit of research and experimentation I’d glimpsed several years earlier. Ever since my first experience with Mikros Animation, the studio had already proven that it had the potential to adapt to a wide range of graphic styles. So, I immediately accepted the job. A few months after working as Senior FX Artist I had been promoted to Lead FX.
Once the project was coming to an end, I slowly moved over to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie as FX Artist, working on both films at the same time. Once Tiger was finished, I was quickly promoted to Lead on TMNT, as the project required a larger supervisory team (2 FX Lead 3D (Serge Martin and I), 1 FX Lead 2D (Marine Pommereul) and 1 FX Supervisor (Paul-Etienne Bourde-Cice).
Q: What was your first reaction after learning you’d be working on the Animation for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?
A: I was very happy, but, there I had a dilemma… The studio needed a FX Artist on 2 projects. The first could make me a hero in the eyes of my nephews, who are huge fans of the franchise; however, the style didn’t appeal to me. The second could have made me a hero in my own eyes given that I grew up with the Turtle brothers, and the style was exactly what I was after. I decided to be selfish, and choose the TMNT project!
Q: Describe the project in 3 words
- Ooze (watch the movie and you’ll understand!)
Q: What does your role as a Lead FX look like on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem project?
A: We were 2 FX leads in 3D. Given that there were 2 FX leads on the projects, before I started working on TMNT, Serge had taken all major decisions for the department as the first FX Lead. Once I joined the team, the aim was to divide the work he was doing on his own between the two of us.
The role was to follow artists on the creation of their shots and give them artistic and technical advice. We would also manage some technical issues and organise work with our 2 Coordinators (Sonja Hadjuk-Mortier and Mylène Macé) and our Supervisor.
What’s special about this project is that the film has a 2D look, like teenage drawings. The best way to make our FX look like drawings was to draw them using traditional animation techniques (drawing each frame manually, at around 12 frames per second).
A large proportion of the FX were created in 2D (traditional animation), with the remainder in 3D. In 3D, the aim was to reproduce the look of 2D. Why do the effects in 3D too you may ask? Because in some cases, particularly when we have an effect with thousands of different elements like a glass breaking, it’s quicker than drawing each element by hand.
For a large part of the project, my job was to create tools (called assets). Creating an asset is both an artistic and a technical task. When we have the same effect on several shots, using an asset is the best way to ensure that each artist has the same result on each of them. As the team Lead we don’t always have the time to do this. But fortunately, Serge took care of other tasks that could have taken up a lot of my time.
Q: Who is your favorite TMNT character, and why?
A: Splinter is my favorite, because he is full of contrasts, and that makes him a very interesting character. He is a Martial Art master, fighter in his soul, but he is afraid of the exterior. He is the opposite of the Turtles, old and wise, but in spite of his appearance, he can be dynamic and combative.
Q: What have you learned since working on the TMNT film visual effects?
A: It was the first time working with a 2D FX team. It was interesting to see how they work and what their constraints are.
Q: When you’re not working on a project, you can be found…
A: Making martial Art like our favourites Turtles at Krav Maga courses. Creating masks, puppets and writing little stories. Starting hundreds of personal projects and not finishing them!
Q: Share something you’re proud of.
A: To have been part of this film. A classic, but honest answer.
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