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Talent Spotlights

Behind The Glitter ✨ Alexia Moreno Obando – CFX Lead

Behind the Scenes of Thelma the Unicorn: Interview with Alexia Moreno Obando – CFX Lead at Mikros Animation

9 May 2024
Behind The Glitter Thelma Mikros Animation

Get ready to dive into the magical world of Thelma the Unicorn through the eyes of Alexia Moreno Obando, the CFX Lead Artist on this captivating project.
In this exclusive interview, Alexia shares her journey, artistic and technical challenges, and favorite moments from the production. From crafting fluid movements to tackling the technical complexities of animating hair, join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating journey of this talented artist at the heart of the team that brought Thelma and her friends to life.

  • Can you introduce yourself and elaborate on your role in Thelma the Unicorn?

I was a CFX lead artist in the production of Thelma the Unicorn. CFX is short for Character Effects, meaning that pretty much anything that moves on a character other than the acting itself was done by us. Think of this: you wake up in the morning, you scratch your head, and you push your bedsheet off of you. You decide to push, but the falling of the bedsheet and collision with the floor, and even the motion of the pajamas you have on, and your bedhead being pushed by your fingers, follow the laws of physics in the real world, and we don’t think about it. However, in animation, nothing is by chance, so we, the CFX team, produce that kind of secondary motion in pretty much every scenario where it is needed. My job as Lead artist covered a wide range, going from working on complex shots and creating assets for other artists to work on, to debugging issues other artists may have, finding artistic and technical solutions for them, and assisting the supervisors or other teams in anything CFX-related.

  • Did you read the book before working on the film?

Actually no. However, when I was called for the project, it was one of the first things I did. It’s a lovely story, and I am glad there is going to be an expansion of it with this film.

  • What were the main artistic and technical challenges?

For the artistic side, well, our main three characters have hair everywhere, and not only that, very detailed styles that have to remain whimsical but also coherent to what you would expect to happen to them in the real world without losing the amazing style that was achieved. It is in that marriage that I find the main artistic challenge, like how much is too much and how little is too little (motion, bouncing, deformation, you name it). In the animation realm, everything is possible but not everything would look correct. The same goes for the clothing, that 70’s look of Vic is quite iconic and he moves in such a wonderful way, it took a bit to reach the right amount of movement, to add to a shot without distracting from the main message of it.

For the technical side, this production was a very ambitious leap Mikros took (Moving curly hair is no joke!), so we encountered something we had to adapt pretty much every week, just because until then the previous productions hadn’t required them. Those improvements, being new tools or methods, are now part of the everyday Mikros toolkit, so it’s nice to know we, the Thelma team, contributed for the future.

  • What is your favorite character and sequence?

When it comes to characters, I love Reggie; he is not that much of a talker and has a very chilled vibe. Also, being very long-haired, he gave us the chance to experiment a lot, sometimes just by being in the scene. But my favorite sequence has our star, Thelma, on a makeover, which I think is a hilarious scene. We also had a lot of fun behind the scenes because some of the quick things happening on screen were quite challenging.

  • Any final thoughts?

I can’t thank just one person. I would love to give a big shout-out to the CFX team, on both sides of the ocean, especially to Joel Yaw, the CFX supervisor for bringing me into the project and allowing me to learn and contribute. But I can’t reduce the recognition just to them because from runners to supervisors, artists, the prod team, the TDs, admins, etc., I don’t think there is one area of the film that I can say, “oh I had nothing to do with you.” If there’s a collective experience, par excellence, it would be making a movie. And I can’t wait for the next one.

Thank you Alexia Moreno – Don’t miss Thelma the Unicorn on Netflix!