Hungarian hand moves the French Viking.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla came into tangible proximity, in the unveiling of which the Hungarian DIGIC Pictures took a lion’s share. We talked to Rabbi Sándor Alex, managing director.

The lives of all of us have been shaken by the emergence of Covid19, and of course the effects of the coronavirus epidemic have not escaped the game industry either. Speaking of which, we contacted the domestic representatives of the industry, as we were also interested in how they adapted to the changed circumstances. As the first stop in our series of interviews and reports, the CEO of DIGIC Pictures spoke about the creative process, the challenges of forced domestic work, and their future plans.

GS: You applied on the last day of April with the cinema of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. You would sketch for the sake of our readers, the process of how to get to what is initially only in the mind concept until millions can finally see it? How long does it take for such a large one caliber project execution?

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

The first step is always to clarify the customer’s expectations. This is key as we basically build our creative concept on this. We have various tools to make this experimental, rethinking phase productive: we collect references and also make illustrations.

The preparation of our films basically consists of five important phases: Story development, animatic production, mocap shooting, previz production and visual development. DIGIC’s strength is its close collaboration with the client, which allows us to add the plus that makes the film unique, while following the guidance our partners have dreamed of.

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

After the initial negotiations, we begin to create and outline the world of the film. As a first step, we create a so-called 3D animatic, which helps to illustrate our idea of ​​the film. Once the customer accepts the animatic, production can begin. For example, we start to create protagonists, characters who have previously decided that they will be included in the given film, and who can be suspected of being seen up close. The main workflows for CG filmmaking are conceptualization, previs making, visual development, creating characters, locations, animations and simulations, lighting and rendering, and creating digital effects in the film, and finally composing.

Generally, a 3-4 minute trailer takes about 6-8 months depending on the complexity (number and elaboration of characters and locations).

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

GS: You’ve gained some serious international acclaim over the years and under the videos looking at evaluations, the audience also rewards the work. The same can be said for domestic reception as well? What are the reactions in Hungary to professional (film, video player) in ranks?

Since DIGIC works primarily for foreign markets, I find it completely understandable that perhaps more people in international circles are familiar with its work. In the last couple of years, they are starting to learn about us at home, we are invited to more and more festivals and conferences, and we also undertake many more press appearances. Most people are surprised to learn that a Hungarian studio makes stunning quality trailers and walk-through videos for these world-famous games.

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

GS: What is more characteristic is that you are looking for that particular game publisher, or that you prefer to partners turn to you? How much you get free hands on a project in its implementation?

For the past nearly 20 years, we have been constantly striving to build and nurture good relationships with renowned publishers and developers in the video game industry. Thanks to this established relationship capital and mutual trust with our customers, we can now say that the leading players in the market – Sony, Microsoft Studios, Activision, Ubisoft, Bungie, Riot Games, or Square Enix – often contact us and offer more. studios. Of course, it still happens that we have to participate in various tenders to get a particular job.

GS: DIGIC Pictures has come a long way since the passers-by of the Armies of Exigo, in the past Ubisoft, EA and Microsoft, among others, have been making videos over the years also to order. Which project is particularly close to your heart? There may be more a company (publisher / developer) you’ve always wanted to work with, but so far failed? There are also franchises that you would work on embodied a dream for the team?

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

One of my favorites is “The Secret War” (part of Love, Death & Robots – ed.), Which we made for Netflix last year. Compared to our previous work, in this project, the DIGIC team was able to gain insight into a production production process in which world-renowned animation studios worked together to inspire each other on an 18-part animation anthology series. And we got a completely free hand from Netflex to make the film, which was a refreshment compared to the rather tied world of video games.

Among our traditional game-related work, I would highlight The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and Final Fantasy XV – Omen trailers for a variety of reasons. I am very proud of all of these and the feedback from the audience was also outstandingly positive. There are a few mega franchises, like Star Wars, that we haven’t worked on yet, but we’d love to test ourselves. Fortunately, we find the challenge in all our new work and it’s still exciting to get to know the world of a game up close.

GS: Netflix’s closing episode of Love, Death & Robots, The Secret War was just a one-time outing into the world outside of video games, or can we expect similar work from you?

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

In addition to DIGIC’s main profile, he has been flirting with the idea of ​​making an all-night animated film for some time. We loved the “The Secret War” project and it was one of the most memorable challenges for us. In this project, we were given almost complete independence in terms of developing and producing the film as a whole. In that sense, it was a very exciting and complex task. The length of the film and the appearance of netflixes also set high expectations for us. This project only strengthened us in making our own animated film one day.

Recently, we have also established our DIGIC Productions business, the main goal of which is to develop our own content. So we hope you will hear more about animated films that carry DIGIC’s handprint in the future.

GS: How well have you managed to adapt to the limiting inhibitor of the spread of coronavirus the effects of the measures? Caused any inconvenience of switching to your home to work?

This situation has, of course, brought new challenges for all of us, both professionally and privately. In addition to maintaining the safety and health of workers, it was important to ensure continuous work on the projects. At DIGIC, we started a gradual transition to working from home as early as March. This was a serious task because we had to reorganize everything and solve the infrastructural conditions of the home office almost overnight. And while unfortunately we had a previously accepted project that the client canceled due to the virus situation, I think the team did a great job during this extraordinary period and we were able to maintain our efficiency as well.

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

The Assassin’s Creed Valhalla trailer was already completed during this period, and the Unknown 9: Awakening teaser trailer was made entirely during the quarantine period. Despite the circumstances, thanks to our professional team, we have completed these projects on time and in the expected high quality, and we are also progressing well with our ongoing work. The transition was a serious financial burden, providing the background for working from home was expensive, and we also had to compensate for the inevitable temporary reduction in efficiency by involving additional resources. But everything was solved, we kept our employees without exception, and even if we could only expand by a few people.

GS: There is an area where, contrary to expectations, they were able to work more efficiently co-workers? As a result of any positive experiences, you will consider that make home an option in jobs where possible office?

We were basically set up for office work, but in recent months it has become clear that we can also work efficiently from home. It is good to see that we have been able to adapt quickly to changes in the world and also to maintain our stability. There are plenty of options in the home office. Looking to the future, we will certainly consider how we could apply this form of work, but we are also very much looking forward to the team being together again.

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

GS: Are there any plans to expand the staff in the foreseeable future? What knowledge do you need to someone who specifically wants to work for you?

In almost 20 years, DIGIC has grown from a 4-person company to a studio of almost 350 people. The really big growth started in 2014 when we moved from Shipyard Island to Graphisoft Park. In the first three years, we took possession of a building here, but in 2018, the strong growth in the number of employees and the emergence of various business lines justified the expansion. Thus, we are currently in two buildings, striving to provide the most comfortable office environment for our employees. We are planning further expansion, hopefully we will continue to grow this year. The colleagues working in the company came from quite different areas anyway.

We have a programmer and an architect, but there are also people who have joined the DIGIC team from some other art field.

Proficiency in 3D software is essential, but talent in a given field is paramount. An additional benefit is that the person has anatomical knowledge, such as character modeling or animation. A photographic experience can come in handy in the lighting / composing position, and a high level of English language proficiency is required for teams communicating with clients. So those who want to work at DIGIC need to have a very diverse and wide range of knowledge, but I encourage everyone to sign up if they feel this is the place to be.

GS: What advice would you give to someone who envisions their future in the profession? What to learn, what professionals are most needed?

The supply of professionals is extremely important in this industry, as the number of professionals available in Hungary is finite. In the field of 3D, it is not uncommon for someone to get to know different software and learn the profession in a self-taught way, thanks to the amount of time they have spent in front of a computer. Commitment and perseverance are important. And the knowledge gained needs to be updated from time to time, as it is a very fast-growing industry that constantly promises new technical solutions and challenges.

If one specifically knows that one wants to be employed in this industry, then of course there are both public and private institutions. In Hungary, the art part MOME, METU (animation) and the technology part, BME, ELTE (informatics, programming-mathematics) are quite different. They provide years of training and comprehensive knowledge in the field. BME and ELTE do not have a specialization in animation / CGI / VFX, but there are related compulsory and admissions subjects.

Basically, in this profession, approached from a creative point of view, two things are needed for placement: primarily a percussion Demo reel, a 1-1.5 minute material that demonstrates the candidate’s professional knowledge. The other important element is a well-puted resume – this is most relevant because of previous jobs, studies and software knowledge.

Hungarian hand moves the French Viking

GS: As you can see, domestic educational institutions and workshops are able to take care of about proper supply? If necessary, in which areas is the most justified a change and progress?

The issue of supply also affects DIGIC. I consider it important to keep in touch and collaborate with partner educational institutions. As the 3D industry is a constantly evolving field, up-to-date software knowledge is inevitable. That is why it is essential to provide the right infrastructure in educational institutions.

For the purpose of recruitment, we also tend to advertise professional workshops, where we are waiting for talented newcomers. During the few weeks of workshops, there are always talents who we can offer a job at DIGIC.