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Cartoon 2022 – Cartoon Next

Industry Report: Animation

At Cartoon Next, Pascal Charrue, Arnaud Delord and Hervé Dupont talk about the making of Arcane

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Supervised by Riot Games, the team at French studio Fortiche Production worked on the successful Netflix animated series set in the League of Legends universe

At Cartoon Next, Pascal Charrue, Arnaud Delord and Hervé Dupont talk about the making of Arcane
l-r: Arnaud Delord, Pascal Charrue and Hervé Dupont during the discussion

On day 3 of this year’s Cartoon Next (12-15 April), Cristina Angelucci moderated a panel titled “Arcane & Fortiche: A Winning Combination and a New Collaboration Between Games and Animation”. The talk saw the participation of Pascal Charrue, Arnaud Delord and Hervé Dupont, of French studio Fortiche Production, who delved into the making of the first season of Arcane, a Netflix animated series set in the League of Legends fictional universe.

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First, Angelucci asked what the challenges were in transposing such a universe and videogame IP into an animated series. Charrue explained that it took one year just to define the “tone” of the show: “We wanted to do something for adults, and not particularly for the fans. We weren’t the biggest players of League of Legends ourselves, and we were aiming to find a balance between fan services, Easter eggs and something good for an adult audience. We have shown everyone that, with such licences, we can create something deeper.”

Speaking about the time-consuming process of adapting a videogame into a TV format, Delord explained, “Videogame adaptations to live-action formats have always been challenging, [as] they are somehow ‘cursed’, and it took a long time for the team to think through the story and the visuals, and find something new to tell.” They began working on the pilot to experiment with different “tones” – and once they had found the right one, they had to do extensive rewriting.

Besides this, the team followed a gradual approach in order to immerse viewers in the League of Legends universe: “In Game of Thrones, for example, I appreciated the fact that we don’t head directly towards the fantasy world, but rather it takes one or two seasons to access it. The same happens in Arcane, since it takes about three episodes. We wanted [to provide] good storytelling, not just fights,” Charrue added.

Meeting the expectations of the original videogame’s fan base has never been a major issue, since the team has been working with the gaming industry for about ten years, Charrue explained. However, some minor fears did emerge only slightly before the series’ release, which took place right after the League of Legends world championship. Charrue noticed some negative reactions on social-media platforms, but these ultimately did not affect the success of the production, which already has a second season in the works.

Charrue also touched upon the visual work done on the series, telling the audience that “3D is just a tool” and that “art needs to remain central. […] Many companies working with 3D have experts in photorealism, but we wanted to be different from those guys. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an old movie, but visually, it’s still beautiful, and all Disney pieces are still works of art. Part of our style is based on allowing each frame to look like a painting,” he said.

Next, Dupont spoke about his role within the team, which consisted of creating bridges between Riot Games and Fortiche on every level, including facilities, IT infrastructure, people and so on. While Fortiche wishes to remain independent, this co-operation is set to become “not just a project-based partnership, but more of a long-term, deeper, creative collaboration”, with a special focus on joint talent development.

Speaking about the impact that Netflix had on the creative process, Charrue revealed: “Netflix joined the show very late. It’s been a great deal with them because they have only been involved in some details, but in terms of [general] storytelling, we were free.”

Finally, Dupont reminded the audience that Riot Games is owned by Tencent, which handled its release in China. “Tencent required slight retakes, indeed. The rework was – surprisingly – quite light, in the end. [...] Each country has its own rating rules, and since this was a global release, sometimes it has been hard to find a compromise,” Dupont concluded.

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