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Talent Spotlights

Under The Mikroscope 🔍 Vincent Duponchel – Set Surfacing Supervisor

Read the latest Under The Mikroscope article about Vincent Duponchel – Set Surfacing Supervisor at Mikros Animation in Montreal.

19 June 2024
In this interview, we explore the journey and insights of Vincent Duponchel, Set Surfacing Supervisor at Mikros Animation. From his passion for collaboration and his inspiring professional path to his admiration for complex characters, Vincent shares the highlights of his career and his love for animation.
  • What is the best aspect of your job?

Among all the tasks I have to perform, I really enjoy collaborating with the client.

The art director and the production designer come with a vision for the film, and my role is to translate this vision so that it can be adapted into 3D models.

I interact with them to understand the story behind the objects and sets to be created, which is really stimulating. Then, I convey this vision to my artists, who put all their energy into achieving the best possible quality.

And when the client marvels at the result, it’s really gratifying.

But what I love the most on a daily basis is the work I do with my team. My goal is to listen to them and find solutions to provide the best possible working conditions.

This involves sharing knowledge, setting up tools, and creating documentation. It’s behind-the-scenes work because I don’t work directly on asset production, but it’s very important to me.

Sherlock Gnomes Mikros Animation
  • What was the first project you worked on when you joined Mikros Animation?

I joined Mikros Animation (Paris) in August 2016 on the Sherlock Gnomes project as a Senior Character Surfacing Artist.

As a bit of background, at the time, Mikros had just signed the project but couldn’t publicly share the film’s name yet.

I was working for another company and wasn’t particularly looking to move elsewhere. At that time, everyone was talking about Mikros’ secret project without really being able to share any information about it.

Since I was curious, I accepted an interview. At first, I just wanted to know the name of the project. Seven and a half years later, I’m still working for Mikros.

  • Can you share your educational and professional journey to your position at Mikros Animation?

I first studied 3D animation at LISAA school, after which I landed an internship on a short film at Sparx in 2004. The following three years, I honed my skills in various studios and on different projects such as commercials, animation series, and a video game cinematic.

Then, I resumed my studies at La Poudrière school to learn film directing in animation. This school is truly amazing, and I learned a lot there.

Afterward, I worked again in Paris for 3 years for different companies and on various projects. I began to specialize as a texture artist.

After an intense period of work, my wife and I decided to spend a year away from everything in New Zealand. It was absolutely incredible. It allowed me to recharge and figure out what I wanted to do next in my career.

When I started, I loved being on small projects and working in different studios. I wanted to discover as many things as possible. But now, I wanted to invest more in my role within a company. I worked for two and a half years at Ubisoft on the Rabbids series before joining Mikros Animation, where I was able to achieve what I aimed to become.

  • What inspires you or who inspires you?

I think what inspires me the most are animated films: I love watching everything that’s being made.

Many films are fantastic and make you want to surpass yourself. I really like the classics from Pixar and Disney (Ratatouille, Zootopia, Coco, to name a few) as well as Miyazaki’s films (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away).

I also have a lot of admiration for Stop Motion (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Wallace and Gromit, The Boxtrolls, Pirates! Band of Misfits, and Fantastic Mr. Fox).

I also like more independent films like Klaus, I Lost My Body, or more recently The Summit of the Gods.

A good animated film, I can watch it 10 times without any problem.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem [Paramount © 2023]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem [Paramount © 2023]
  • If you had to be a character from Mikros Animation films and series, who would you be?

I’ve never really liked film heroes. I often find them quite bland. They are always beautiful and very conventional because the audience likes to identify with heroes. We all want to be beautiful, strong, and full of courage.

But life is not that simple, and I like more complex characters. I’m generally more attracted to the losers. I like characters who have a background, a story to tell, and who are torn by their character.

Nothing is ever all white or all black, we all have good in us but also a shadow side.

I really like the character Superfly in Ninja Turtles. First, I find his look super stylish with lots of fantastic details, and second, he’s very interesting as a villain. He’s not bad for the sake of being bad; his intentions are more noble. It’s his rejection by others that gives him anger and motivation.

I also have a lot of admiration for the character Vic in Thelma the Unicorn. The film isn’t out yet, so I can’t reveal anything about the character, but his design is really awesome.

He’s a secondary character who has a presence on screen. He reminds me of the character Jesus in the Coen brothers’ film “The Big Lebowski”.

thelma the unicorn Netflix Mikros animation
Thelma the Unicorn [Netflix © 2023]
  • Your greatest achievement so far?

Finding my place as a team leader.

There are a thousand reasons to complain about your supervisor on a project. We tell ourselves that if we were in their place, we would do things differently, but we quickly realize that this role is not that simple.

I’ve had the chance to supervise 3 complete films at Mikros, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. These mistakes have allowed me to adjust how I manage my team. Today, I feel more confident in this role.

Outside of work, my greatest achievement remains my family.

  • What superpower would you like to have?

To slow down time. I’m not known for being the fastest, which is why I learned to code. Making tools allows me to gain speed.

The SpongeBob Movie [Paramount © 2020]
The SpongeBob Movie [Paramount © 2020]
  • What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to contact the big studios or the people you would have liked to work with. I didn’t have enough confidence in myself.

At the time, I thought studios like Mikros were out of my reach (which was probably the case). To make a great film, it takes many people, including seniors, mid-levels, and also juniors.

If I had known that earlier, I would have saved time. But I have no regrets because if I’m here today, it’s also thanks to all my past experiences.

Another piece of advice I would give myself is to learn English as quickly as possible. I think I missed several great opportunities because of my level. Even now, I regret not being more comfortable with it.

Thank you Vincent!