Celebrating the New Year in this Short Film Directed by Geoffroy Barbet-Massin

Work January 5, 2023

In January last year, our Paris studio became The Mill Paris. This change allowed our international network of studios to expand into the global network of teams from London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bangalore, Shanghai, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and, more recently Seoul.

For several years now, our artists have been perpetuating the tradition of the greeting card by creating original and entirely homemade short films! In 2023, they have not deviated from the tradition and are offering us a creative short film directed by Geoffroy Barbet-Massin, honoring all the studios around the world and, of course wishing all our artists and international partners the best. We interviewed Director Geoffroy Barbet-Massin and artists Agathe Sayegh, Maxime Orsini, Laura PhamVanCang and Marine Sisnaki to learn about the creative process and technique of linocut. Congratulations to our artists for this creative short!

A very happy new year 2023 to all! May it be filled with creativity and challenges, and of course, with joy and incredible projects!

Geoffroy Barbet-Massin, Director: This year, The Mill Paris continues the tradition of greeting cards, and I was lucky enough to direct it and surround myself with an incredible team of artists. I wanted the viewer to navigate through several representative landscapes of The Mill world’s studios, using clichés and emblems to represent each country in the most universal way possible. From the iconic colorful buildings of Amsterdam to the famous Berlin bear, to the guards of London, to the skyscrapers of Seoul, the narrative is enhanced by illustrative images in a sequence shot.

First, I worked on the drawings that would then be traced and engraved on linocuts. I went back to my applied arts classes to use a technique that we don’t usually use in our day-to-day work.

This technique is similar to wood engraving; although the support is less rigid and more malleable, it calls upon the manual skills and precision of the engravers. Maxime Orsini and Agathe Sayegh took care of the engravings and then we add volume on Maya software. All movements had to be coherent and the transitions fluid so that all the spectators, both internal and external, could relate each studio to one of the 8 sets dedicated to it. For the finishing touch, all the prints were colored using PhotoShop and After Effects.

This project was completed in only 4 weeks thanks to the support of the artists Laura PhamVanCang for the set and character modeling, Maxime Orsini and Agathe Sayegh for the motion graphics and compositing, and of course, Marine Sisnaki who was in charge of the rig of the Fox and Hot Dog characters.  Emilie Fouré gave us the last hand on the layout of the greetings.

Not forgetting all the people who helped us with this project: Sébastien Noyon, Ghalia Chammat, Benoit Holl, Franck Lambertz, Kahina Lamblin, Stéphanie Mollet, Kim Julian, Fabrice Damolini, Marie-Cécile Juglair and Hugues Allart.

Agathe Sayegh, Motion Design & Illustrator: With Maxime, we focused on Linocuts, an exercise I had practiced more than ten years ago during my studies at the Beaux Arts. Geoffroy, who is at the origin of this greeting card project, was also completely open to different artistic proposals from us.

As a motion designer, I’m used to working on a computer with a shot images base that we then modify or complete with other elements. This time, we were starting from scratch and each engraving was another stone in the building. It was fulfilling to be able to follow and contribute to a project from start to finish while using manual skills combined with our digital skills. I particularly enjoyed building the sets of Amsterdam with its typical houses and the New York big apple.

This project was very different from the projects I usually do. It was almost recreational.

Our workspace was completely different from usual; there were our illustrations all over the floor, our prints on the walls. It was almost like we were working on a personal project and I think that’s why we were all giving it our best. Seeing the final result, I think anyone can feel the pleasure we had in contributing to this project.

Maxime Orsini, Motion Designer & Illustrator: On this greeting card, I was responsible for the illustrations on the linocuts. This project was fulfilling because Geoffroy, the director, was very open to our artistic proposals. From the beginning of the project, Geoffroy gave us confidence and invited us to be proposed some creative ideas and concepts. An opportunity that I immediately took!

Geoffroy’s artistic direction and concept art were very clear, but we could add/change elements to perfect the plans. To make the linocuts, we first traced the sketches and then transcribed them onto the lino. We dug out certain parts of the drawing to make a sort of “stamp.” Once the lino was engraved, we inked it and printed it on paper to finally retouch it in Photoshop. While respecting the initial cut-out imagined by Geoffroy, I was responsible for establishing an artistic direction for the colouring. It was a tricky but fun exercise to give depth to the images through colour while respecting the director’s initial intention.

Laura PhamVanCang, Modeler Character & Environment: I really enjoyed working on this great project for many reasons. I was lucky enough to work with Agathe and Maxime for the first time, and it was a great collaboration, both personally and artistically. We could really observe each other’s roles and the progress of the project as we were all working side by side on different elements of the film. I was able to follow the evolution of the images and concepts very closely: from drawing to linocuts to 3D modeling to animation and the colorization part.

For my part, I was in charge of the 3D modeling with Geoffroy, in particular for the Fow and the Hot-Dog characters. I had 2D concepts drawn by Geoffroy, which I pre-cleaned so that they could be rigged by Marine and then animated and integrated into the film. While Geoffroy started the animation, I worked in parallel on the sets to not lose time. We projected the linocuts on a 3D plan to be able to perfect them on Maya software. We also played with the illustration depth by reworking the volume of certain parts, such as the clouds or the mountains. The organization and communication were very fluid throughout the production process. Every time we encountered difficulties, we had the support and suggestions of all the members. A pleasant and enriching production that I have very good memories of.

Marine Sisnaki, Rigg Artist: On this short, I was charged to rig the fox and the hod-dog characters, it was done in Maya with our autorig framework M.A.R.S.

These characters were super cute, and I was very happy to work with Geoffroy and Laura. It’s the first time I get to work on a project that isn’t commercial, and it’s nice to see how creative we can be on these projects.

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Geoffroy Barbet-Massin:
Production & Post Production
VFX Producer: Sebastien Noyon – Ghalia Chammat
VFX Supervisor: Geoffroy Barbet-Massin
Graphists / Illustrations: Geoffroy Barbet-Massin, Agathe Sayegh, Maxime Orsini
Linocut: Agathe Sayegh, Maxime Orsini
Modeling: Laura PhamVanCang
Rigging: Marine Sisnaki
Animation: Geoffroy Barbet-Massin
Editor: Geoffroy Barbet-Massin
Music composer: Rémi Boubal
Sound mix: Bruno Ginestet