Heroes of animation: Blackmeal

Six studios joined forces for the London's Hero speed animation challenge - and we're profiling each of them. Today we look at Parisian agency Blackmeal.

Spring is coming, an animation for BNP Paribas

Animators from across London have come together for a unique challenge at ZED, HP's pop-up studio for creative professionals in London's Soho.

Curated by New York-based Cut&Paste and powered by HP Workstations, the contest saw six studios take part in a speed animation challenge in front of a live audience. Each got just five hours to create a 10-second clip that shows a different stage of the life of London's first superhero - from baby to senior.

Meet the team

We wanted to catch up with the teams involved, and find out what drove them to get up in public and expose their creative process for all to see.

We've already met Golden Wolf and Fred & Eric. Now it's time to meet Blackmeal, a French studio developing and creating video projects for TB, cinema, web and multiplatform productions, as we chat to its executive producer Mael Francois.

  • See the full Blackmeal showreel here.

Q: What's it been like taking part in London's Hero?

It's the first time I've done anything like it. It's been a lot of fun taking part of this event and getting the opportunity to work alongside amazingly talented people. But also a big challenge as we had to do in five hours what we usually do in a few days. There was a lot of sweat and concentration involved!

Q: As a Paris-based company, how have you found working London?

It was great that the London’s Hero guys let a French company open the event! I used to work here a few years ago and it was great being back, this time with my team, in the creative and amazing environment that is Soho.

Mael Francois is happy to be back in London

London is a very big hub for creative talent. I think that because of the cultural mix that you can find there, and the way art and design has been such an important part of the city's life over the decades.

Q: What technologies play the biggest part in what you do?

As a VFX and animation house, we love to mix techniques and technologies, like 3D renders and hand drawn animations. But technology is only a medium: art is only as good as the artist doing it.

A personal animation project in tribute to Marvel

As such, what I'm mainly looking for in any piece of technology is for it to be used by an artist, and have inputs/interfaces that are easily understandable and usable by one.

Q: What are you most proud of?

The two projects that we are the most proud of lately are our Marvel fan film, which had a lot of success online, and our Rayban carbon fiber commercial (you can see videos of both below).

Q: Where do you draw inspiration?

We draw our inspiration from a lot of different sources and medium : Pixar (of course!) for animation, Morning Breath for illustration, Harryhaussen and Phil Tippet, and a lot more.

I would say that being able to observe and analyse what happens in the real world around us, to be able to understand its rules and be able to build on top of it, or even break it is the most important part.

Animation created for Ray-Ban

Q: Who's your favourite superhero?

We never agree between us about who our favourite superhero is ! but one thing is certain: our least favourite is Superman. He is so powerful and indestructible that it become boring. At least Hulk is a funny hero.

Q: What superpower would you like for yourself and your hero?

Time control would be very useful to always be able to do what we want on our projects. Mind control would be nice as well but might not be very ethical. As for London's first superhero: well, being able to stop the rain would be a good starting point.

  • Thanks to Jelly London, a production agency representing world-class directors, animators and creators, for their help arranging this interview.

Delivered in conjunction with ZED!

This content was produced in collaboration with HP & Intel as part of ZED - a Pop-Up Studio for the Creative Community held in Soho, London. For more information about ZED and any future events see here.

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