This year’s Visual Effects Society’s 19th Annual VES Awards Student Award nominees had to adapt overnight to new ways of learning and collaborating. The global pandemic challenged them, and their efforts clearly rose to the challenge with a new level of creativity, ingenuity, and craft.
This year’s nominated projects ranged from fully animated shorts to live-action productions with computer generated creatures, environments, and effects. The nominees included Time’s Down (ARTFX, France), ARAL (ARTFX, France), Strands of Mind (Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, Germany) and Migrants (Pôle 3D, France). Each project showcases the budding talent of visionary artists, who delivered beautiful end results while overcoming the hurdles of remote workflows and shutdowns.
Autodesk sponsored the VES Student Award for the 13th consecutive year, presenting this year’s award to student filmmaking team Aubin Kubiak, Antoine Dupriez, Hugo Caby, Lucas Lermytte, and Zoé Devise for their moving animated short Migrants. The film follows the plight of a polar bear and its cub, while exploring current environmental and socio-political issues, including climate change, racism, and the refugee crisis. To better resonate with younger audiences, the short features charming stuffed animal characters and stop motion stylized assets.
“Our first step was to create a strong reference base for the different assets of the movie,” shared the team. “We did most of the shape retake in 3D and we used our references to create our textures. We built our assets, environments, and lighting with the idea of a stop motion scene. So, our biggest focus was scale, from the modelling to compositing, and the management of the focal blur.”
“The biggest challenge was finding the global look of the movie,” they added. “Because we wanted to match the stop motion aspect, we had to find solutions in every stage of production. We had to make our characters move like puppets, make our environment and characters look like they were handmade, and work hard to perfect our visual effects.”
Throughout production, the filmmakers were tasked with working remotely from home, while still collaborating effectively. Strong IT support from their school, Pôle 3D, helped the students adapt to remote workflows and keep motivation and productivity up.
“With the challenges the pandemic and remote working brought along, we had to learn to be autonomous with our work while still cooperating closely,” noted the team. “It took some time to adapt, but we were almost as effective as if we were at school.”