Exodo Animation Studio On Work Organization at the Company & Animation Market in Mexico

Exodo Animation Studios' Paco Navarro told us how different teams at the company communicate with each other, explained what the first steps when working with a new client are, and spoke about the animation market in Mexico.  


I'm Paco Navarro, Co-Founder and Business Developer at Exodo Animation Studios.

We are an animation studio specializing in character animation based in Guadalajara, Mexico. The company was founded in 2006 together with Paco Zamudio and three other partners that are no longer in the studio. I'm a graduated Industrial Designer and Paco Zamudio, the other partner is a Graphic Designer, currently finishing a Masters in Animation.

Exodo Animation Studio

For the past 16 years, we've tried our best to build an organization and a pipeline that can fit our client's expectations and also be as flexible and reliable as possible. There's not a big difference in how the studio is organized to others – mainly, we have the artists under a group of supervisors who report to the line producer assigned to the project; the producer can handle several projects, and it's under our head of production.

We are a one-stop-shop, we can develop projects from concept art, all the way up to compositing. Our main focus is full CGI projects, in the past, we had some experience with VFX for feature films and advertising, but eventually, we built a team that is very experienced in the full 3D pipeline.

Internal communication changed significantly in the past two years, COVID-19 was the main driving factor for it. We were used to a 100% on-site team, meetings, in-person feedback, artists in the office, and the whole enchilada. Today is no surprise that everything is remote, the artists are doing home-office and connecting to the workstations in the office, we use Shotgrid as our main tracking system and Slack as our preferred way to communicate with teams, and for meetings Zoom or Google meets.

I like to talk about internal and external communication as separate topics because we've been working remotely with clients since 2007 when we started working with Mexico City and then, in 2008 with Toronto. External communication has been remote almost since the beginning of the company, mainly because we are in a city that, at the time was not a big production hub. Nowadays, Guadalajara is THE PLACE in Mexico to find all of the animation and video game industry.

There are a lot of projects that we feel proud of, but there's one that has been recognized by over 100 festivals around the world. Anacronte is a short film we animated, directed by Raul Kohler and Emiliano Sette and co-produced with Mr.Bug and Celeste Films in 2018. More recently we animated several Cinematics for well-known franchises like Paladins, Puzzle Quest, Five Nights at Freddy's, Smurfs, etc.

Animation Market in Mexico

The animation market in the region is very interesting. First of all, the main hub for it is Guadalajara, the biggest studios are down here working for clients like Disney, Nick, Sony, Apple, Xbox, Netflix, etc. Mexico City is another ballgame, more focused on super high-quality advertising and feature films. Also, Merida packs a good amount of very experienced studios. It's important to know that one of the main particularities of Mexican animation, is that there's a ton of unexplored creativity everywhere. Artists are eager to share their craft and ideas.

First Steps When Working with a New Client

I must point out that 98% of our clients are from abroad.

Onboarding a new client is very dependent on their own processes. For some clients, we have to undergo a due diligence process, and for others is a simple call and a handshake or email. But on our side, it's always the same. The first step is to understand their necessities and evaluate if it's a project we can produce.

Sometimes, there are specific requirements that we can't fulfill and we must be very honest about it. Once we have all the important information, I take the lead and start with all the paperwork. Once, that's cleared, I give the green light, and pass the project to our head of production who manages the public calendar and assigns it to the line producer. This is a crucial step because that's where everything is ironed, that's why all our producers are fluent in English.

Exodo Animation Studio's Approach to Education

Education is paramount, we have great relationships with universities in the state. At the moment, we have 7 teaching BAs in Animation. All of our artists have a degree.

There are two main sources we need to hear very carefully, the clients and the artists. We've found that sometimes they are not in sync and we need to align them, especially with artists who recently graduated. We are always listening what's the new tool or techniques and evaluating if we can include them in our pipeline without losing our focus as a company.

Using Procedural or AI Tools

We've been testing some AI tools available. There are mixed opinions; some supervisors view it as a great tool to kickstart or conceptualize a project. Others think that we're still far from what we actually can be considered "production quality" art or assets. I think we are in a phase very similar to when everybody thought 3D animation was about pushing a couple of buttons and you have a feature film in 5 days. AI is still a new tool that for sure will be a great add-on to our toolbox.

Advice for Artists

Being fluent in English, that's always my first tip, in fact when we hire a new producer or PR, the interview is 100% in English.

Send a short demo with only your best work, and ALWAYS put the best work in the beginning, our timespan is very limited, so don't use fancy 15 seconds intros with your name, let us see the tasty stuff ASAP.

If you just graduated, please don't send the exercises you worked on during your degree, all your classmates will do the same. Do some personal work, put in the extra hours, and build a project you love. We look for people who are passionate about animation and can push the envelope.

You are working inside a team, and creativity is great but once you are in a company, efficiency is one of the most valuable assets you can have. Also, learn how to work inside a team, lone wolfs struggle a lot in these environments.

Paco Navarro, Co-Founder and Business Developer at Exodo Animation Studios

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

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