3DTotal: Hello Jonathan, could you tell us a bit about yourself please? Jonathan:
Hello and thank you for doing this. My full name is Jonathan Simard; I’m currently living in Quebec, Canada, where I’m working as a Lead Animator in the games industry. I’m 27 years old and I’ve been animating now for nearly 5 years, during which time I have worked on such projects as Far Cry Instinct, Prince of Persia 3, and Assassin’s Creed, Bee Movie Game but my current project is top secret, sorry.
3DTotal:What first got you hooked on 3D? Jonathan:
I think it’s down to the fact that I’ve been a fan of the movies ever since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to be apart of the creation of those special effects. So later, with the help of such movies as Jurassic Park and Toy Story, I was hooked by the power of this media and its infinite possibilities...
3DTotal:Could you tell us how the job at Beenox Studios came about, and why you decided to go for the job as an animator? Jonathan:It all started during the making of my demo reel, when I was a student at the NAD Center. I didn’t know where to put my focus - modelling or animation - so I simply choose to do both (I always been an animation fan). I did a good job with the animation and was later hired by Ubisoft Montreal to work there as an animator. I enjoyed animating so much so that I continued doing it after work at home, where I worked on my character modelling. After three years at the Montreal studio, I switched to Ubisoft studios in Quebec, but I wasn’t really satisfied there and felt a little depressed working on DS games (you must understand that, before I moved to the Quebec studio, I had been working on Assassin’s Creed, so it was the dumbest decision I have ever made). So I quit and joined Beenox Studios, and started working on next-gen games like Bee movie. With the depression gone I’m now really happy and can focus more on doing
3DTotal:Though you enjoy doing both, do you feel that at a point in your career you would like to be the man behind creating the characters, rather than animating them? Or do you feel there is much more creativity in the animation, than actually creating them? Jonathan: I have asked myself a similar question. It’s been five years now and, to tell you the truth, I don’t know. I don’t know if I should stop creating characters at home and just purely focus on animation. The problem is, if I stop working on creating characters, I think I would miss it too much. I don’t think you can compare what is more creative between the two; both are equal in different ways. One thing is for sure though, which is that I do need to concentrate more on animation than modelling. I have always found it harder to animate. Right now, with some friend at Beenox , we are working on chevisodes (http://chevisodes.com). An episode based short movie. So I think, I will definitely working more on animation
3DTotal: You seem to push the boundaries with each of your characters, making each one truly unique. I can’t help but think of those circus freak show line-ups! Could you tell us how you go about designing and creating these characters, and what are the major influences behind them? Jonathan: Thank you. It’s funny you mentioned a circus freak show line-up, because I remember the first character which I did for fun, for a little challenge I did with CGSociety (CGTalk at the time), and the subject was ‘The Freak Show’. I created a
gentleman with a big testicle and ever since then I have tried to give something special to each of my characters. I always think about what I can do to make them unique. I can pass more time just finding a subject than finishing the model. Like a lot of people, Tim Burton has been a big influence (although I try to keep my characters far from Burton’s). I have always loved his films, ever since the time I first saw Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Right now I’m trying to get inspiration from everywhere.
3DTotal:So if you had to create a 3D representation of yourself, which parts of you would you exaggerate in order for it to be unique? Jonathan:Do you really want to know? Because I don’t think you could publish it. OK, sorry, I’ll try to be more professional. That’s a hard one actually because I can’t stand seeing myself in pictures - I hate it. So, I think I would begin by putting a mask on my face so that I could make a more interesting image. After that I think I would work on exaggerating
my clothes, maybe giving my character some latex and leather that squeezes my skin - make a freak out of me, like an old transsexual sado-maso. That would be funny and it’s something I would like to push more with my characters: less happiness, more freakiness.
3DTotal:How long do you spend on creating a character?
Jonathan: It’s always different and depends on whether I lose my inspiration or not. Sometimes I can be in front of my computer for ages just rotating around my character, trying to find what is missing, or I can pass a week testing the lighting and never get what I really want. Other times, like for White Teeth, it can take me just two weeks in my spare time. Right now I’m working on a new character; the modelling is 80% finished (done in a very short time of about three days), but I know that something is missing, and I’ve been thinking about it for a week now...