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Talent Spotlights

Tiger Talks 🐯 Christophe Barnouin, Supervisor Tech Animation

The Tiger’s Apprentice is now on Paramount+ !

15 February 2024

In this insightful interview, Christophe Barnouin, the Technical Animation Supervisor for The Tiger’s Apprentice, delves into his animation journey. He discusses the challenges and highlights encountered during the film’s production, offering insights into his role, favorite moments, and the collaborative efforts at Mikros that shaped this unique project.

  • To start, can you tell us more about your journey in Animation and at Mikros?

When I was very young, I used to have fun creating flip books in the margins of my notebooks, but I had no idea it could become a profession. It was when I found myself in a mechanical engineering DUT program that I realized continuing on that path would lead me to a dull office job for the rest of my life. So, I made a 180-degree turn and luckily stumbled upon the only school at that time that offered training in 3D-related careers. After completing my studies, there was a boom in 3D, and it was in demand everywhere – in advertisements, music videos, and Parisian studios were lacking trained personnel. I started as an animator on the series “Rolie-Polie-Olie” at Sparks Animation, then joined MacGuff-ligne where I did a lot of animation and RIG. This was the period when Pierre Coffin joined as well, bringing in numerous animated character advertisements, followed by the first feature films from Illumination. While working in a small team on the short films for “Despicable Me 2,” the production team noticed that I handled technical issues well and that’s when I switched to the “dark side” of animation and became a technical animation supervisor. Finally, I arrived at Mikros Animation during the production of Sherlock Gnomes, where, in addition to the talent, I found the people to be very open. So, I’ve stayed as long as they want me.

  • What was your role on TA as a Technical Animation Supervisor?

The context of TA was quite unique because we had to kick off the project in a rush while the teams were scattered. We were lacking several supervisors, a CGSup Anim, and many technologies were still in development. So, we had to fill the gaps, lay the tracks, design the path, all while the train was moving forward. I had to play the role of a Swiss army knife, going beyond the duties of a technical animation supervisor. Essentially, the technical animation supervisor ensures that everything entering and leaving the animation department goes smoothly and meets the quality criteria without hitches. There’s a lot of anticipation and communication with adjacent departments and assets. It’s also the person who takes care of the animators, ensuring they have everything they need to create wonders under the best conditions, be it in terms of tools, rigs, etc. On a daily basis, we end up being the “problem funnel,” where people can unload, and we find solutions or apply the right drops of oil to the right places, making sure the right people talk to move things forward. Fortunately, Nicolas Gibut joined us during production, and I can never thank him enough for his immense contribution!

  • How was the collaboration with the Mikros teams?

There are so many amazing people at Mikros; it’s a pure pleasure to work with so many talented and intelligent individuals who often are also rich in humanity. I might not be supposed to say this, but for a long time, my motivation has come more from the people with and for whom I work than from the images we produce. Special mention to all the technicians and other behind-the-scenes workers who strive in the shadows to make the magic possible!

  • What were the main artistic and technical challenges on TA?

As mentioned earlier, a massive challenge was finishing setting up the pipeline, integrating new technologies while starting production. The onset of COVID also forced us to learn to work differently; remote support and communication are not at all the same as when everyone is on-site.

  • What is your favorite scene?

It’s a bit funny, but I have a particular fondness for the scene where Tom and Mr. Hu arrive at the antique shop through a small alley after escaping the demons. It’s one of the first scenes we started working on, and it was cool to finally see the characters come to life, and the initial renders of the alley were truly spectacular! I also really like the work done on the demons, whether in animation or effects; it looks really good, kudos to everyone!!

  • What are you most proud of on TA?

In general, I’m very happy to have pushed the state of the art in terms of tools and workflows, but I think what touched me the most was when an animator who left us during the project said, “Where were you during my previous productions?” For me, it completely validates the effort we put in to ensure everything flows smoothly for the teams.

  • Describe the film in 3 words 😊

I haven’t been able to see the finished film yet, so it is: highly anticipated, magical & spectacular

  • Any closing thoughts?

A big shoutout to the Confo Anim team, with whom I was closest during the second part of the project, but also to the magic fixers, all the supervisors, leads, TDs with whom we brainstormed to make things possible. Thanks to all of you, it was above all a great human adventure!!

Thanks Christophe!