SUCKER PUNCH ANIMATED SHORTS: Ben Hibon – Director & Animation Supervisor

Ben Hibon was born in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1996, he moved to London to study at Central Saint Matins College of Art and Design. He worked later as artistic director. In 2007, he directed a miniseries for Sony based on the game HEAVENLY SWORD. In 2010, he made for Warner a segment of 3 minutes for HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOW PART 1. The animation is done at Framestore.

What is your background?
My background is a mixed bag of fine art, illustration, graphic design and animation. I’ve always been very interested in figuration and narration – creating characters and the worlds they inhabit. Filmmaking – in its various applications – has been a perfect vehicle for me to blend some of these disciplines together.

How was your collaboration with Zach Snyder and Warner Bros?
The production on SUCKER PUNCH was a very collaborative process – we had an on-going dialogue with Zack and the filmmakers throughout the production to make sure our vision for the shorts was in-line with the tone of the movie. Zack is well-known for creating visually striking worlds, so his creative input was key to keep a synergy between the shorts and the movie.

What was your freedom about the scripts creation?
Zack had a precise idea on what the shorts should be about, and how they would relate to the movie. He was interested to create an emotional connection with the movie’s antagonists – by giving each one of them his own back-story. We worked with screenwriters to flesh out each individual ‘prologue’ before submitting to the filmmakers. During that process we had a fair amount of freedom to implement Zack’s initial brief.

Which references have you received for the 4 shorts creation?
We had access to some of the production design from the movie. But the short stories are not all set directly in the realm of the movie, so we had to create a lot of new assets ourselves. It was great to have the opportunity to add some of our own ideas to the SUCKER PUNCH universe.
Visually we went for a very illustrative/drawn look. Opting for a more ‘stylised’ design gave us flexibility when it came down to integrate elements from the movie itself. It was important for the shorts not to replicate the look of the movie, but instead get influenced by its iconic imagery and re-invent its aesthetic.

How did you creates your animations?
We used a blend of 2D cut-out animation for the ‘action’ and simple parallax techniques for the cameras – not too dissimilar to making a paper-cut theater show or a moving story-book. We design each frame with multiple layers and animate each one of them separately. We then bring these layers in a 3D space where we can move a virtual camera in-between and around the layers. The success of the whole process relies heavily on using camera movements to tell the story – essentially through framing and lighting.

How much time did you need for a minute of animation?
The overall running time of the shorts is around ten plus minutes. The full production ran for two and a half months, from conception to delivering the finished films.

How was the collaboration with the artists of Axis Animation?
I already had the chance to work with the team at Axis Animation in the past; we did a short film called CODEHUNTERS and also a TV commercial for Renault. They are a very talented studio that’s capable of delivering an amazing range of styles and techniques – from hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation to high-end photo-real CG – which is precisely what you need when taking on such a hybrid project like SUCKER PUNCH.

What is your next project?
I’m back working on my own feature projects for now.

A big thanks for your time.

// WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Stateless Films: Official website of Ben Hibon.

SUCKER PUNCH – Feudal Warriors

SUCKER PUNCH – The Trenches

SUCKER PUNCH – Dragon

SUCKER PUNCH – Distant Planet

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2011

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Vincent Frei

Founder & Editor-in-Chief // VES Member // Former comp artist

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