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Asteria

A great animation short film made by students at the ESMA school in France
November 01, 2016

Asteria is an animation comedy taking place in space. It was made from start to finish by a team of students of the ESMA school (École Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques), one of the best animation, design and special effects schools in France. The film won the Audience Award as well as the Jury's 1st Prize at the ESMA graduation screening. We wish Asteria good luck in the upcoming festivals.


Asteria features some of our FX Packs: CG Explosions - Pack 1, Wall Hits - Pack 2 and Dirt Charges - Pack 2. We've been highly impressed with this work which looks truly professional. Here is an interview of the six students who made this film: Alexandre Arpentinier, Mathieu Blanchys, Lola Grand, Tristan Lamarca, Thomas Lemaille and Jean-Charles Lusseau.

How did you get the idea for this film?
During our second year of study, each student had to write a screenplay and the faculty selected about ten of them. Then they put together teams of students which became definitive at the end of the second year. Alexandre Arpentinier came up if the original idea for our screenplay and wrote the first draft.

How big was your team and how long did you have to complete the film?
Our team is composed of six students and we all worked together on the film for one full year. During the summer 2016, we were assisted by five 2nd-year students for animation work and texture/shader touch ups.

Did you do storyboards or previs (or some other kind of preparation)?
Yes, we created a storyboard early on which quickly evolved into a 2D animatic and then into a 3D animatic. As soon as a new shot was started in 3D, we quickly rendered a previs of it to test it within the animatic.


What were the different phases of the work and how was the work divided? Did you follow the model of larger studios such as Pixar?
The film production occurred in three phases. The first phase was PreProduction (Character design, sets, etc…) and lasted from September to December. We also finalized our screenplay during that time and started our storyboard and our search for FX. The second phase took place from January to March/April. During those three months, we worked on and finished the entire modeling/sculpting and texturing/shading of the film. We then started the rigging work. The third and last phase was dedicated to the lighting, effects and animation work. In June, we output a crash test as the trailer was released for the Annecy animation festival. This test allowed us to test for the first time our entire pipeline in real conditions. After the festival, we worked on finalizing the lighting and animation and finished the process by rendering and compositing.

We shared the work based on our skills and interests. Of course, we all had to compromise somewhat. During Prepro, all our team members but one - who was working on finding FX - worked on Character Design and sets. And everyone chipped in the finalization of the script. During production, everyone worked on the modeling. It’s only after that that we each took on different roles:

- Alexandre Arpentinier : Scenario / Modeling / Character Surfacing / Lighting / Layout / Editing
- Mathieu Blanchys : ColorScript / Modeling / Character Surfacing / Animation / Matte Painting
- Lola Grand : Rigging / Animation
- Tristan Lamarca : Character Design / Rigging / Animation
- Thomas Lemaille : FX / Compositing / Rendering / Pipeline
- Jean-Charles Lusseau : Character Design / Modeling / Sculpt / Environment / Texturing


What software did you use to integrate our FX Elements footage?
We used Nuke by The Foundry.

What did you think of the integration of FX Elements into your workflow?
The elements by FX Elements were easy to integrate in our pipeline. Our research helped us find which elements were needed for each shot. Once we chose the most suitable elements, it was very easy to use them. The quality of the footage by FX Elements made it easy for us to tweak the color, speed and shape of each element so that it would integrate in our shots seamlessly.


What do you take away from this experience?
We all learned a lot during this process and all had our ups and downs. Working as a team without supervisors for one year was a pretty difficult experience; we had to do everything, be a modeler, an animator as well as artistic director. But thankfully our group as a whole was solid and hard-working, we succeeded in having a cohesive team and we all had a great experience which made us grow, learn and mature.

What's next?
Now our film is going to have its own life, it will fly away to several festivals and we hope it will travel like this for a long time. As for our team, each of us started his own path. Some of us stay in Toulouse doing Sculpt/Texture, others moved to Paris to work on Character Surfacing or FX Compositing and others enjoy this time to pause and rest before starting their professional life. Each of us will live this new adventure our own way but we’ll stay in touch. We can’t cut ties after one full year of helping each other and supporting each other pushing our own limits.

For more info and updates on the festivals: AsteriaTheMovie