Simon Tarsiguel, a Co-Founder of Menhir FX, talked about the studio's working process, spoke about their production pipeline and software they used, and explained how to work with new clients.
Figment 2: Creed Valley - BedTime Digital Games
Hi, I am Simon Tarsiguel, Co-Founder of Menhir FX, a 2D/3D video game trailers studio. The studio has been around for five years. Today, we are a 15-people team. Human qualities are at the heart of our values. Inclusivity, financial transparency, feedback culture, and responsibilities are the six backbones of our studio. Our goal is to make beautiful animated visuals in an excellent atmosphere to enable the whole team's creativity.
I co-created the company with my brother Pierre, who already had his first entrepreneurial experience. I was in my last year of study at the Artline Institute, an online school. Being both passionate about video games and 3D animation, the studio naturally turned to these fields.
During these last years, I discovered a passion for management and entrepreneurship. Today, in my role, I manage the whole team.
Fabledom - Dear Villagers
Menhir FX's Work Organization
COVID has transformed how we work and connect. Today, the company crafts productions with teammates who can be 100% remote. We have developed a very fluid communication/collaboration through Discord, Reemo, and Miro. They allow us to feel fully involved in the team and avoid isolation even when working from home.
Every morning, the entire team meets at a daily meeting, a joyous moment to convey important news and get approval on each collaborator's work before sending it to the client. Each team member can voice feedback or put forward an idea.
All associates work with a common goal – to make video game trailers with compelling storytelling and stunning visuals. Today, we are proud to work alongside video game companies like Those Awesome Guys, Rogue Games, Ubisoft, and Dear Villagers, just to name a few.
Our marketing team constantly looks for market news, trends, emerging companies, and technologies. We also meet with video game companies at conventions and industry events in North America and Europe. Our work is very stimulating, and we tackle all kinds of video game genres, including horror games, city builders, platformers, mobile strategy games, broadcast projects for e-sport tournaments, etc.
The company regularly questions itself on CSR issues. We are always looking for a good balance between life and work. To achieve it, we have decided to innovate and provide the following:
- 4-day work week (32 hours/week paid 35 hours).
- Financial transparency (knowledge of the salaries of all employees, visibility on the company's balance sheets).
- Responsibility (flexible hours, free telecommuting).
- Feedback culture (the 4A's).
All these values and "management" choices offer a healthy work environment, encouraging innovation, creativity, productivity, and employee engagement.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of hope - Ubisoft
Today, we can work with any real-time rendering engine (directly from our clients' Unreal/Unity software) or create from scratch with a pre-calculation engine.
In our work, we use an extensive set of tools, Blender and ZBrush for modeling, Maya for rigging and animation, Substance 3D for texturing, and Houdini for layout, set dressing, look development, special effects, lighting, and rendering. We are rendering in Redshift, which is a GPU rendering engine. Deadline is used to dispatch our renders on our farm. Nuke is used for compositing – most of the time, we use After Effects for our editing and motion design.
We use Prism Pipeline for our scene management and Perforce for Unreal-related projects.
We mainly use Discord for internal communication; Miro for brainstorming and sharing ideas and references; our clients also have access to it. To track our time, assets, and shots progress, we are using Fatfish's Aquarium web app.
We are currently spending time on Unreal Engine 5. Last year, we laid the groundwork for our real-time pipeline to be ready. This year, we are looking to shift some of our productions. Some of our clients are developing their games with it. If so, we can get a build of their game and focus even more on the artistic/cinematic side of our work. Most of the time, this process is faster and less costly, a win-win!
In the company, everybody can work from home if they want to, with no restrictions. We provide them with tools to access their work computer and the studio's local network from home.
Fabledom - Dear Villagers
Getting New Clients on Board
The first kickoff discussions are significant in understanding our client's needs and communication style. They allow us to build solid foundations for a stable collaboration for the rest of the production.
We make it a priority to conduct very detailed pre-production, even for smaller projects. It helps us to define clearly our client's goals and needs. Throughout the production process, a statement of work (SOW) allows us to follow up on all shipments and client approval. Communication is crucial to staying close to our client's expectations. Despite a carefully prepared pre-production, our visions and how we project ourselves into the project can deviate during production.
Therefore, our client must be active during the production of their trailer by being available to give feedback and approval at each step.
Homebody - Rogue Games
Approach to Education
One of the strengths of our company is the ability to question ourselves. Each teammate is an actor in the quality of our project. We regularly ask the whole team to have talks on the quality of our images, which allows us to progress constantly.
Part of the team are mentors in several creative schools. The company has a policy of annually recruiting apprentices and a couple of interns. It allows the younger generation to discover their future job. It is also necessary for the company to update on new technologies and improve the pedagogy/andragogy of all the collaborators. Menhir FX regularly participates in the jury of animation schools.
Training is a fundamental part of staying successful and discovering new work methods. We place a high value on the emergence of new talent within the team to help them grow and develop within our company. We give them an important place in artistic or strategic choices. They can communicate and exchange ideas without any taboos. It's an excellent way to make them take responsibility and make them actors in the productions (Daylies, 1-on-1s, pre-prod meetings, etc.).
We seek unique and multidisciplinary individuals interested in working on a joint project. The typology of our productions leads the artists to be involved in many different fields within 3D (modeling, texturing, lighting, etc.). There is no typical profile at Menhir FX because we promote inclusiveness and diversity.