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Interview with Pascal Blanche
 
 
Posted: Sep 20, 2010
Published by: the area
Homepage: Visit the page
Software: Autodesk 3ds Max
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The Area:
Hi Pascal, thanks for being here with us on the AREA. It’s an honour to have a CG pioneer as yourself, share and talk about everything that has led up to where you are now, Art Director at Ubisoft. Can you tell us where you are located currently?
Pascal:
I am living in Montreal, Quebec, but will be moving to Cambridge, UK.
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The Area:
What will you be doing in the UK?
Pascal:
Pretty much the same thing I guess ;)
The Area:
So your roots are in Montreal - how long ago did you start working with 3D there?
Pascal:
Actually I moved to Montreal 10 years ago, and before that I was living in France -- yes I’m French ;) I started in the game industry back in 1993.
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The Area:
For those of us who started later, what was the CG scene like back in the 90s?
Pascal:
Things where just starting up… well... the Internet was just starting to grow slowly... so most of the CG communities where not there yet… just a bunch of kids tripping on demos on the Atari I think ;)
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The Area:
Versus now?
Pascal:
Well, all media is digital now… movies, press, TV... communities are now huge on the Internet, and game industry makes as much money as the movie industry. Tools that are now used for blockbusters are the same used in games, so the line is more and more blurred there, and each new year gets its technical progress. 2010 is the year of stereoscopy for instance.
The Area:
As Art Director at Ubi, can you tell us a bit about your involvement and activities in the development of game titles, which game titles and how long you’ve been there?
Pascal:
As Art Director, I am involved in every aspect of a production. From conception, to preproduction, production and closing. We start with a core team of 5 to 10 people, and we end up to a production of 160 people. I started at Ubisoft Montreal in 2002 with Myst IV Revelation, then I went a while on the cinematic side, and came back in gaming production with Naruto: Rise of a Ninja and on James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, for nextgen consoles.
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The Area:
Well your personal artwork is incredible no less -- full of tension or dynamism in the subject matter. And the uninhibited use of colours is a trip for the eyes! Who are your influences and sources of inspiration for your sci-fI fantasy themes?
Pascal:
Thanks :) it would be long to give the full list here, but here are the main ones: Frazetta, Mignola, Moebius, Katsuya Terada, Otomo, Corben, Bisley, Ashley Wood, Wayne Barlowe... But I read a lot too, and I go to museums. It is really important to see what has been done before your time.
The Area:
Prior to CG, what were your aspirations and what ultimately led you to choose 3D as a tool to express your creativity?
Pascal:
I was a big fan of Ray Harryhausen movies and wanted to create my own little critters. So when I was kid I was making up puppets and sculpts… I guess that 3D was the perfect tool for me ;)
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The Area:
What kind of apps are in your toolbox?
Pascal:
3ds Max 9, Photoshop CS2, ZBrush 3.5, Painter, Internet
The Area:
What was your first CG/3D app?
Pascal:
I think it was Caligari on the Amiga... but I had lots of fun with Deluxe Paint too
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The Area:
Since which version have you been using 3ds Max?
Pascal:
I’m using 3ds Max since... first version. Better yet, I worked with 3D Studio (yes the ‘S’ stands for Studio) 3 on the DOS... 3 years before 3dsmax ;)
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The Area:
Now given that we cannot reasonably cover your entire portfolio in this single interview, let's go over a select few. We’ll start with Mermaid.
Where did you find the inspiration for the striking design of this character? So mystical and unworldly…and way before Davy Jones ;-) What was the trickiest aspect in making her… tentacles? Shaders? Rendering? Modelling intricate metal jewellery work?
Pascal:
Hmm I would say that the most difficult part was the eye.. I wanted it to look sensual and fishlike at the same time. The very source of the inspiration of the mermaid is a mix of some of the Star Wars creatures, some designs from Mike Mignola, Vatine and Springer.
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The Area:
Irulan is another very interesting image. Can you tell us about the shaders and renderer used? I understand that you also prepared an animation of her in tribute to Dune…pretty cool interpretation!
Pascal:
Ahah well, that was the way I was picturing it in my mind… to me, like in the book, the Bene Gesserit sisters have mastered the art of full body control. So I figured out that it would look more interesting to see that animation as a pram bindu exercise, where she must stay perfectly still. For the rendering, like in most of my renders of the last years, I use Vray.
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The Area:
Great juxtaposition of flesh and mechanical parts in QueenBee..again, where did the idea of the design come from? Also, when creating characters in max, are you working with a primary base mesh that you retweak and pose?
Pascal:
Yes I use and reuse my basemeshes, changing proportions and faces, adding muscle details here and there... the original inspiration for this one was some of the concepts of Masumune Shirow in his amazing Intron Depot artbook.
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The Area:
What do you use for generation of hair in your work?
Pascal:
I use the basic Hair generator in 3dsmax, but I don’t rely on the generated shader, I turn the hair into solid meshes, that's what gives them a more graphic look ;)
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The Area:
Generally how long do you spend on the creation of an image?
Pascal:
I tend to be faster. About three or four nights for creating the scene, one for the lighting/rendering, and one for the touch up in Photoshop.
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The Area:
Do you rely on a concept sketch or just work spontaneously?
Pascal:
Most of the time, no. But I like to sketch from time to time when I am away from my computer, I always have a sketchbook on me to fill it with rough ideas.
The Area:
A lot of your artwork features a sort of painterly stylization - which software do you generally use to achieve that effect?
Pascal:
Photoshop, always. I use some filters, some color isolations and layers, tons of layers!
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The Area:
The 3ds Max 9 splash screen that we're all familiar with, excellent interpretation of the logo. Did you have creative freedom when developing and executing the image?
Pascal:
It was a full commission work, so I worked under the lead of an Art Director from Autodesk (Michiel Schriever). I pitched some concepts and roughs and we started from there. He was really open to suggestions so it was lots of fun for me.
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The Area:
What's the current project you're working on now… asides from dealing with relocation and settling in ;-)
Pascal:
Can’t really tell for now, sorry... I’ll update my Linkedin in a few months ;)
The Area:
Do you have any pointers for artists who are starting out, as you once did?
Pascal:
Be passionate about your work, but don’t overdo it. I worked only three nights per week at home, even when I feel like I could do more. It keeps the flame burning strong ;)
Try to find inspiration outside of the game industry, go to museums, read… Everything is good to feed your imagination with.
Have fun!
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Thanks again for this opportunity, Pascal.

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Posted by icetears on Nov 27, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Sounds completely fantastic! :-) i can not wait to listen to the score... This should be intent on get on CD some days before the pic opens, would not you guys say? www.kunstplaza.de/produktempfehlungen/online-zeichnen-lernen-mit-der-studiengemeinschaft-darmstadt/
Posted by icetears on Sep 12, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Whenever I do these interviews, I attending up the accountable on CGTalk to acquisition out what added 3D artists anticipate about it. Normally, I about-face up two or three threads. For Akira, I angry up hundreds. Why do you anticipate it's so universally loved?

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Posted by rocky00987 on Nov 05, 2011 at 03:27 AM
thank u so much
Posted by adobro on Jun 08, 2011 at 04:51 AM
wow. inspiring.
Posted by bobuble on Nov 30, 2010 at 06:33 AM
toujours aussi bon ^^
Bub