In collaboration with Christophe Lautrette and Pierre Perifel, Agora is developing various characters for communal content creation projects. Supervised by Agora's core team, this project is an opportunity to collaborate with many talented artist and showcase the quality of their work.
Based on Christophe's creative vision and Pierre's original character design, Leo Sanchez, Gael Jacques (Agora CG supervisor) and Roman Adamanov (Agora's senior character artist) worked on the modeling, texturing, shading and grooming of our 2 first characters, Riff and Twigs.
Riff character rig as been developed by Alex Mann, one of Agora's frequent collaborators, and Twigs was developed in collaboration with Dr. Reel. Our goal was to create light and efficient rigging systems, while providing a wide range of motion to animators.
Jean-Sébastien Duclos worked on Twigs animation storyboard and animatic. Ravi Govind, currently animation lead at Dreamworks Animation Studio, created a 2D line test for his own animation. In both cases, iterating on paper way before the first keyframe was set in Maya.
Inspired by the screening of Spiderman and how animation was pushed in very creative directions, Ravi Govind created Riff's animation. Twigs was animated by Sergey Shutko, Agora's frequent collaborator. In both cases, Agora's guideline was to get a subtle stop motion feeling with animation on 2s and push the rig to its limit to achieve very stylised animation.
Gael Jacques took care of lighting, rendering and compositing, and Camille Jacques added folley, closing the loop of the whole production pipeline from character design to final product.
February 2020, Agora.Studio provided AnimChallenge, the monthly animation challenge, access to Agora's character Twigs. Instead of providing a generic theme and letting all participants do whatever they wanted, we provided specific guidelines to follow along with a maya file including both the character rig and a fixed camera. We knew if everyone followed the same guidelines, the same ‘Audition' theme, the same character and camera, we could efficiently render the best animation afterwards and create a 2 minutes short film with it.
The contest itself was a success, with close to a 100 participants and thousands of animators downloading our free character rig. We chose the 12 best animation, judging both the quality of performance and execution, asked for the Maya files, cleaned up animation, imported those in our render scene created ahead of time, rendered them properly, edited the shots and applied a good audio mix with music, sfx and voice over. The result is AnimChallenge's first communal short film. Everyone who participated got a free character rig, the chosen animator got a render of their animation for free, everyone's work received proper exposure, AnimChallenge now has a nice piece of content to promote its free monthly challenges and it allowed Agora to experiment with crowdsourcing. We're quite pleased with the result of this experimentation.