Interview with Jan Míka - Filmofon’s Founder and the Director of "The Goose"
The stop-motion 3D animated short film "The Goose", directed, written, and designed by Jan Míka, was officially selected by the Annecy Festival in the “Young Audiences Shorts Films” category. It tells a story about a boy fantasizing about becoming a famous footballer, playing in big stadiums, but first, he has to win a match in his small backyard against a goose.
As the industry's top cloud rendering service provider and leading render farm, Fox Renderfarm participated in Annecy Festivals and exhibited at MIFA. We were honored to meet Jan Míka at MIFA and have an in-depth interview with him.
Producer & Director, Founder of Filmofon
In this interview, Jan will share with us his experience in the CG industry and provide insights into the process of creating his project “The Goose”. Let’s look at the interview and learn more about Jan!
The Goose teaser
Fox Renderfarm: Hi Jan, it’s our honor to have you here in MIFA. Thank you for accepting our interview. Please introduce yourself first and your company Filmofon.
Jan: Hi Everyone! My name is Jan Míka, I am the founder of Filmofon which is based in the Czech Republic. Our company is mainly focused on hybrid films and we are combining different techniques such as stop motion, CGI, classic 2D cartoon animation, live action, and we put everything together to achieve a unique look.
Fox Renderfarm: What's the story behind the logo design?
Jan: Filmofon is a machine that creates films. In the previous logo, we had the machine included and it was kind of a box that projected the films. Later the logo was compressed into letters with a circle representing the lens and a triangle representing the light beam.
Logo Design © Filmofon
Fox Renderfarm: "The Goose/Husa", directed by you, becomes the Official Selection in competition at Annecy Festival 2023. Congrats! How do you feel about it?
Jan: Thank you! Yes I'm super happy because it is an honor to be included in that competition, especially in a program for young audiences. I'm honored to be among the only eight films selected, that is absolutely fantastic! I also came here to represent another film and to discuss any potential collaborations, to meet people, friends, and producers, and to watch films of course.
The Goose in Annecy Festival
Fox Renderfarm: What’s your plan at Annecy?
Jan: Well I would like to see the official competition for short films. The Czech Republic also has a feature film by Filip POŠIVAČ in the competition. So I'm really looking forward to it.
Fox Renderfarm: Can you give us a brief introduction to the story of this short film?
Jan: The story is quite simple. It's about a boy who fantasizes about playing football in big stadiums and becoming a famous football player. But first, he has to win a match against a goose in his front yard. So the story mainly focuses on the conflict between a small boy and the big goose.
The Goose © Filmofon
Fox Renderfarm: Why did you choose the felt/puppet style and stop-motion animation to present this project?
Jan: In the beginning, I wanted to have a human-touch feeling in the film, so I decided to go with real-built sets and shoot it in the studio. Anyway... we had some stylized characters that would be difficult to animate in stop-motion. Therefore, we decided to use them only in a certain amount of shots, but the rest is in a complete CGI pipeline. Every shot had to be shot twice, first with the puppet and then a second time without them. So we had the clean plate and the reference with puppets. It was kind of animatic in a set. The puppets were animated very roughly, like a blocking. Later, during the post-production, they got two takes from us. One clean plate for adding 3D characters, and one reference with the blocking animation. So animators knew exactly what the characters should do, where they should stand, how big they are, and what is the lighting on them. I'm focused on hybrid films so the combination of real footage with CGI was something I wanted to try and to test.
Fox Renderfarm: How did you make it? What software & plug-ins did you use? And how long did it take you?
Jan: “The Goose” is produced by a Czech company Animation People and a French company called Autour de Minuit. In the Czech Republic we shot the real footage and then transferred it to France where all the 3D stuff was made. It was made in Blender and rendered with Cycles.
I started the development in 2017 and the production began in 2021. It took about a year and a half to complete the film.
Behide the scenes of The Goose
Fox Renderfarm: Were there any difficulties encountered during the production?
Jan: Yes, there were a few of them. First I had to change the ending of the film since the French TV wanted me to change it to a happy end. Now I see it was a good decision so I would like to thank French TV. During the shooting, there was a little bit of reordering and replanning of shots. The entire shooting took about two months so there was time to change things. Other difficulties included the size of the puppets because we had well-made puppets to work with, but of a different scale than we needed. The overall proportion was slightly bigger than we expected, so we couldn't use them on sets as we planned. Instead, we used 3D-printed characters for the blocking and it was luckily enough...
The Goose © Filmofon
Fox Renderfarm: Are there any impressive memories during this production alongside these difficulties?
Jan: The whole process was amazing, everyone was learning a lot. We had to have a motion control jib for the camera, extract the data from the motion control and then bring them to the 3D software. So there was also a conversation between Dragonframe engineers and the data management support on Blender’s side.
Fox Renderfarm: How did you encounter CG? Could you share your educational and career experience with us?
Jan: Let’s start with the cooperation with Fox Renderfarm which was very nice. Last time I was in Annecy with my previous film, I was contacted by the Fox Renderfarm team who offered some free rendering credits to try the cloud rendering service, and I was quite happy because I'd already started to plan this film (The Goose). It was difficult for me to develop it on my own with no budget at all. So I was happy that someone was helping me. I did some tests with 3D characters, and all the rendering during the development of “The Goose '' was done with Fox Renderfarm.
Regarding my educational background, I started by studying live-action films, but then I realized that almost every of my live-action films at school had some animated sequence. It got me thinking that maybe I should care more about animation. I started to study again, this time at a department called Classic Animation and Visual Effects at Film Academy of Miroslav Ondricek in Pisek, a Czech university, and that brought me directly to the animation industry. My graduation film called “We're Human, After All” is where it all started. The fundamentals of live-action and animation brought me to combine these two worlds and start making hybrid films. 3D in general is something that can be done very easily at home with a computer, nowadays the visuals can be fantastic and very realistic, so it brings great opportunities and I'm ready to catch them.
The Goose © Filmofon
Fox Renderfarm: Which of the works you have directed/taken part in has impressed you the most? And why?
Jan: I’m impressed the most by a project I’m currently working on. No matter what it is. I think it must be this way. If I’m not impressed by what I'm doing then something goes wrong.
Fox Renderfarm: Any artist or artwork that inspires you the most?
Jan: Yes, absolutely there are some directors and filmmakers that were a big inspiration for me. One that I’d love to mention is Czech director Karel Zeman. He has passed already but his films are still alive. Still very fresh and innovative. He started to combine live-action and animation in a very unique and artistic way, and those films were very successful worldwide and still are. Even nowadays. The film I'm working on at the moment is also a tribute to Karel Zeman’s films.
Fox Renderfarm: May I know the status of the project right now that is in tribute to Karl Zeman?
Jan: The project I'm working on at the moment is called “Kill, Kokesh, Kill!” It's a short film based on a story by another Czech writer named Karel Michal. The combination of the film is very tricky. We combine real actors in close-ups with a 2D cut-out animation in wide shots. The cut-out will be made of photographs of actors.
Kill, Kokesh, Kill! © Filmofon
Fox Renderfarm: How do you like Fox Renderfarm’s cloud rendering services?
Jan: Like I’ve said, It is very quick and stable. I remember that when I was designing a character and preparing it for rendering using photogrammetry, the rendering time on my device took ages. I rendered one frame for thirty minutes or so... I said to myself, let's try Fox Renderfarm’s service. I pushed all those settings up to the best quality and I was so impressed by how quick it was. I just uploaded my files and the image (TIFF) sequence immediately came out. It was so quick! It was exactly what I needed. So my experience is very good.
Fox Renderfarm: At the end of our interview, what else do you want to share with us?
Jan: Have a nice time, enjoy your life and goodbye!
Filmofon Contact and Social Media
Official Website: https://www.filmofon.cz/en/filmofon
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