The Making of Dreamworks’ All Hail King Julien

Dec 19 2014


King Julien is a fantastic show to work on. It really takes the Madagascar franchise into a wonderful new direction. I’ve always found Julien to be the funniest character of the Madagascar films, and today it makes its US Netlfix debut!

The opportunity to work on a spin-off series starring him has brought a lot of laughs, straight from the storyboard stage with Creative Director, Florian Wagner’s crew with James ‘Wootie’ Wooton as Unit Director, to the final composites.

Eric Prebende, Supervising Animation Director, has built a great team of animators around Myke Sutherland as the series Animation Director. Eric, Myke and Line Producer, Liz Scully collaborate on a daily basis to ensure a high level of quality in the character animation department. Working with  Sean Norman, Senior Lighting and Compositing Lead, Mike Tran, Lighting and Compositing Lead , and Vijay Manral as Senior FX lead, has been a blast. Not to mention many hours spent in editorial with the Kevin Willis (Bardel’s editor on King Julien). It’s a great team! It’s the fourth show that we have all worked together on, and we are really honing our creative and technical processes. Of course, our level headed ‘voice of reason’, Bonnie Pritzker, VP of Production, continues to inspire leadership at Bardel and manages to keep everything on track.

I first began working with some of these guys on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and then Monster Vs. Aliens. It was a lot of fun, but challenging to hit the deadlines while maintaining a high calibre of quality. We then jumped onto the feature film ‘The Prophet‘; which was a completely different style than what we were used to.

Now that we are working with Dreamworks, we’ve come full circle…with a couple of added challenges we haven’t experienced on a television series before. Virtually every character is covered in fur. Because this attribute is so processor heavy, animators can’t really animate with the fur visible. Proxy objects on the rig helps, but it can be sometimes surprising for them to see what the characters end up looking like when their characters are rendered. Fur also creates challenges with lighting and rendering. It’s important to have a pipeline that can incorporate lighting fixes without having to go back to a maya rendering stage. Fortunately our pipeline incorporates comp gizmos that give us a wide variety of controls for look of lighting, style, and mood without having to hit the render farm with these very costly renders.

RELATED ARTICLE: SPOTLIGHT: MYKE SUTHERLAND

The artists themselves have been fantastic at building their own tools to help with the pipeline. Jordan Choo and Mauricio Ricaldi, Lighting and Compositing artists, for example, developed a gizmo to almost completely remove noise and flickering from renders. A common problem with fur.

Dreamworks has been great to work with too! They have helped build a solid pipeline with our studio, that continues to evolve. They are open to our creative suggestions, and the back and forth has really brought out the best work from all of us.

I am really thankful to be part of this team and to be working on such a wonderful and funny show.

Thanks Everyone! Here’s to many seasons to come!

Author

Chris Browne

Studio CG Supervisor

When Chris is not busy overseeing the CG Productions at Bardel, you might find him flying remote control drones for his independent science fiction films.