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Interview with Gregory Fromenteau

By Antonio Neto

Web: http://netocg.blogspot.com (will open in new window)
Email: moc.liamg@xf.gcoten

(14595 Views) | 1 Comments
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Date Added: 29th November 2011
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Hi, Gregory, could you please introduce yourself and tell us what your dream was when you were younger?

Well I currently work at Ubisoft Montreal as Lead Lighting Artist. I studied at the School of Visual Communication in France for four years, where I improved my drawing skills and learned about 3D (modeling, texture and animation etc). I've wanted to work in the film industry since I was young - since I watched the first Toy Story, if I remember - and I dreamed about working for a company like Pixar or Weta Digital as an artist. I didn't really know what I wanted to specialize in at this stage.

How did you get started in your career?
I started at Antefilms Studio (the TV studio) in 2004.We were making cartoon series in 3D for The Cartoon Network. It was an interesting experience because I did a lot of things during those three years: modeling, texturing, lighting, FX, compositing etc. I learned a lot of different software packages too. And then in 2007 I started to work at Ubisoft.

Can you tell us a bit about your education and what you think made your work stand out from the work of others?

My education was very general. I learned to use a lot of different software packages, but I wasn't a power user of any of them. I just knew how they worked and the basics, so I ended up with a very diverse portfolio of 2D and 3D pieces. I think one of the things that make me stand out was that I was really open to learning any software on any production. I just wanted to work in the industry and I wasn't looking for a specific position. My first day of work I opened up XSI, which I'd never used before!

What's a typical day for you at Ubisoft?

I start with a cup of tea (yes, I don't drink coffee!) and then read my emails. I check the updates with my team, reviewing their work and giving out new tasks if necessary. After that I talk to the art directors to find out if they need anything or to review our work. Same thing with the technical directors; our work impacts all the production departments, so we have to be very careful of what we are doing. Then, I pick a task and start working on the lighting of the game.

During the day I also have to follow the development, test the new tools we are developing and keep the programmers updated. I have some
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meetings each day, related to the gameplay, art or technical issues. I like to take one hour to play the part of the game we are working on to check our work from the player's perspective and to point out what is not working or what we have to improve. Usually at this stage the day is finished and it's time to go home!

How much does your team interact with the team that makes the concepts? Do you have much involvement in the beginning of the creation process?

The concept artists are more driven by the Art Director; they feed us with a lot of concepts that we use for inspiration. For sure, we talk together about the environments, but the concepts are more of an idea to push us in the right direction. After that, we are on our own and we have to be creative and go beyond the concept.

Sometimes I see concept art environments with a lot of detail, but normally concepts have some objects and materials that are not complete defined and are therefore open to interpretation. How do you go about defining these details? Is it something you talk to the concept team about?

A concept art piece with a lot of details is really useful for a level or texture artist, because they can build an entire map from one picture. On our side we don't need a lot of details; we need to know what the art director wants, the mood, the ambiance etc. After that we have to find the best solutions to do it, and to be creative around this theme.

I know that you've worked on projects like Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia - what was that experience like? Were there times when you worked really hard to achieve a particular result and then when you did, it felt like a victory?

Prince of Persia was a really good experience - one of the best teams I've ever had! The chemistry was perfect, everyone knew what they had to do and did it very well and the ambiance was very good too. It was a hard production, because it was the first Prince of Persia Next Gen and we had to do our best to reach the expectations of the fans. Even if the game didn't have the success we wanted, for me it's still a very beautiful game and I'm proud of it.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood was a tough one. We had to make an entire game in eight months, with a better quality than the previous one that took two years of production. We had a very good team, a lot of senior artists, a lot of work... and we did it! And it was a great success! So yes, it feels like a victory because we didn't think that it was possible to produce the game in less than a year. I'd do it again without hesitation!

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Emmax on Sun, 04 December 2011 6:26pm
awesome dude.
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