ELITE 2012 – Interview with Michel Gagné

28 May 2012
POSTED BY (Events, Industry)

1. Please tell us about yourself. What is your career path?
I was born in Roberval, Quebec, and grew up in the small town of Saint Félicien, dreaming of one day, being a comic book and special effects artist. At the age of 18, I moved to Oakville, Ontario, to study Classical Animation at Sheridan College. Upon finishing college in 1986, I was hired by Don Bluth Studios as they were finishing up the animated movie, An American Tail. I graduated to character animator on their next picture, The Land before Time, and ended up working for Bluth Studios for six years, both as a character animator and a special effects artist.

In 1992, I left Bluth to work for various studios doing effects work on both animated and live action movies, as well as doing character designs and pre-production development. Through it all, in my free time, I pursued independent ventures such as doing short films, painting, sculpting, writing and illustrating books and graphic novels, etc.

In 2001, after working for the big studios for fifteen years, including a 6-year stint as head of special effects for Warner Bros Feature Animation, I decided to move away from Hollywood to focus all my time working as an independent. For the past ten years I’ve diversified my skills working in various medias including illustrations, live shows, books, comics, animated short films, and video games, while still maintaining a good relationship with movie studios such as Disney, Pixar, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, etc for which I produce concepts, designs and animation on a freelance basis.

In 2007, Joe Olson (my game expert partner) and I created Shadow Planet Productions, in order to do our first game project, Insanely twisted Shadow Planet, which was released on Xbox in August 2011.

2. What does your master class consist of?
The first part, I will be discuss my professional experience and how I was able to break into the movie industry. I will demonstrate my process and approach to animation, special effects, character and environment concepts, etc. I’ll talk about my various ventures into various artistic mediums and explain how they co-relate to my growth as an artist. I’ll give my personal insight on how to discover your own voice and creating art that is unique.

For the second part, I will be focusing on the making of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, going in great detain on how we put the project together from start to finish. The subjects covered will include: The Birth of an Idea; Putting Together a Pitch and Getting the Game Financed; Creating a Work Pipeline from Scratch; Experimentation – Trial and Error – Finding What Works; Color Scripting and Storyboards; Bringing Animated Film Techniques into the Game; Transposing Concept Art into Playable Environments; Making Impressive Cinematics on a Small Budget; Using Simple Methods to Create Spectacular Effects; Keeping a Singular Artistic Vision throughout the Project; Making the Gaming Experience as Cinematic as Possible; Combining Music and Sound with Animation for Maximum Impact.

3. Who is your master class aimed at?
Professional and students alike. I’m going to do my best to share as much knowledge as I can within the allocated time. People that are interested in animation, game making, as well as peripheral artistic medias, will get a good insight from an insider who has been equally successful working in both, the studio system and the independent arena.

4. What will the participants learn?
I intend to make the workshop as much of a visual experience as possible and show a unique perspective that my many years in the industry have provided me. I’ll do my best to open their minds to the endless possibilities of making it as a successful creator and not put unnecessary limits upon themselves. I have been in the art industry for 25 years and still believe the best is yet to come. My goal is that the participants will feel the same way after the workshop and see the future in a brighter light than they did before.

5. A brief word for future participants?
We’re going to have fun and learn a great deal!