Pixels Q&A with Patrick Jean

With over 2,026,435 views of the official film on Dailymotion in the six days since its release, Pixels has really spread far and wide very quickly. We wanted to find out more about the film and had a chance to ask the creator Patrick Jean a few questions. Now working as a 2D and 3D artist at One More Production, where this film was made, Patrick is a 2002 graduate of Supinfocom and has also previously worked at the French VFX powerhouse BUF. Patrick’s original storyboards for the film are also below. Take a look!

What was your main inspiration for the concept for this piece?
I played all these games when I was young ! Most of them were on Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC or Arcade machines. Another aspect was to mix these two different universes: pixel art and reality. Two universes with different laws of physic. I was curious to see what would come out from this: would one of them eat the other ? I also got my main inspiration from late 80’s blockbusters, like Roger Rabbit or Ghostbusters. I think this aesthetic choice contributes a lot to the nostalgic feeling of it, and nicely fits the retro gaming theme.

This is a self-initiated project for you, right? Why did you choose to make it?
This is indeed a personal project, but I received a lot of help from french VFX studio OneMoreProd. To be perfectly honest it should have been a music video in the very beginning, but with the huge amount of CG work it represented I wasn’t sure to meet the deadline. That’s why we choosed to make a short movie of it.

Did you come to New York and shoot scenes specifically for previously storyboarded shots? Or was there a bunch of footage that was shot and then edited together, figuring out what to animate in each shot as the piece came together? And what camera gear was this shot on?
Everything was storyboarded and conceived before shooting. Then we went to NYC and shot on location in two days. I have to say my friend and Director of Photography Matias Boucard helped me a lot to get everything I needed. We used a Canon 5D Mark II. (I had a lot of “rolling shutter” troubles so I had to re-do almost all the camera movements in CG and camera mapping…)

How big was the team that did the visual effects and animation? Can you tell us a little bit about how you worked and what tools you used?
I did almost all the VFX in the movie. However I received help from the VFX company where I work (Flame artist and sound design for example). When I had all the footage in hand, I began by developping a tool for Maya to generate animated voxels. It’s C++ written and works nicely. Then everything was tracked in Maya Live and rendered in Mental Ray. The editing was made in Final Cut.

What other projects do you have coming up? Anything you’re excited about?
Well, I have been contacted by several major feature studios to develop the project further. Beside this, I have another short movie on tracks and lot of contacts with video and ad companies.

Thanks Patrick! Good luck with everything, and thanks for taking the time to chat with us.

Directed by: Patrick Jean
DOP: Matias Boucard
Line Producer: Benjamin Darras
Location Manager: Kris Arthur Gray Cedras
3D and SFX : Patrick Jean with some help from Pedro Gomes, Grégory Lanfranchi, Philippe Palmieri
Color grading : Hervé Thouement
Sound design: Benoit Cauet, Nicolas Vitte
Music: Nicolas Vitte
Produced by: Benjamin Darras & Johnny Alves
Production assistant : Christ Zotokas