In this enlightening Tiger Talk interview, Julia Bordeau, Supervisor Character Surfacing at Mikros Animation, takes us on a journey through her animation career. She delves into the challenges and triumphs encountered while shaping The Tiger’s Apprentice, highlighting the magical, audacious, and vibrant aspects of this visually stunning project.
- To start, can you tell us more about your journey in Animation and at Mikros?
After artistic studies, I began working in animation after watching a documentary about French individuals building careers abroad. It was a revelation; I absolutely wanted to do that. It connected my passion for travel and imagery simultaneously.
After working on one of the very first French animated feature films, I went abroad. I started working in London, Berlin, Ho Chi Minh, and eventually settled in Sydney, where I spent about a decade working on animated films like Happy Feet, Lego Movies, Peter Rabbit, and also on VFX films like Alien: The Covenant and Guardians of the Galaxy. Upon returning to France, I had the opportunity to join the passionate teams at Mikros Animation. The Tiger’s Apprentice was my first project, and what a project it was!
- What was your role on TA as a Character Surfacing Supervisor?
My role was to ensure the fidelity of the characters’ look to the artistic direction provided by Paramount’s creative teams. Technically, some characters were complex, presenting lovely challenges — all successfully overcome with a team of passionate and talented texture artists I had the pleasure of working with every day.
- How was the collaboration with the directors, Paramount’s creative teams, and Mikros teams?
The Paramount teams regularly exchanged ideas with us and were always receptive to the solutions and directions we could propose. It was a great collaboration. TA is an ambitious project, and the path was filled with challenges that Mikros Animation teams successfully navigated, thanks to a fantastic lineup of department heads and CG supervisors supporting us at every step. This was especially challenging as the majority of the project was done during a pandemic, requiring us to rethink and organize a new way of working remotely with teams in different time zones.
- What were the main artistic and technical challenges on TA?
The Tiger’s Apprentice is visually generous. Each character has its own identity, and each human corresponds to an attached zodiac. The initial look, very graphic and paint-like, evolved during production for reasons beyond our control. However, we managed to retain some of that “paint” look in each character by finding innovative texturing and shading approaches. Integration, lighting in beautiful settings, special effects, and compositing make the images truly unique.
- What’s your favorite scene, favorite character, and why?
I believe I particularly appreciate Mister Hu, not just for the three-day beard but also because of his interesting relationship with Tom. They both navigate a complex relationship while facing life’s challenges, and each eventually finds their place with respect.
- What are you most proud of in TA?
I’m proud to be part of the Mikros Animation family. However, I’m especially proud of the monumental effort put in by my character surfacing team. Many joined the studio for this project. We learned to work together, get to know each other, and became a strong, united team.
- Describe the film in 3 words 😊
Magical, daring, exhilarating
- Any last words?
A big congratulations to the entire team involved; “teamwork makes the dream work.” To our screens and see you soon for new adventures!