The French animation collective Megacomputeur returns with another highly-polished, gleeful short film that further cements their aptitude in 3D animation and character design. Plaisir Sucré, produced in-house at Passion Animation Studios, was the brainchild of Corentin Yvergniaux, Camille Jalabert, and Oscar Malet. “We wanted to leave the audience confused at the end, going away still wondering about what the hell they just watched,” the animators tell It’s Nice That.
Set in Datacool Inc in 1984, a fictional data management company in Houston, Missouri, the short opens with a timid, bespectacled computer technician called Stephane, typing away in a humid office cooled only by a metal fan. As he cracks on with his work, a pink-frosted doughnut with eyebrows made of sprinkles saunters in and faces the man. “Are you hungry Stephane?” it asks. The doughnut quickly turns aggressive, ordering the mild-mannered technician to eat it as it launches itself into his face, which it incessantly batters with its doughnut fists, landing Stephane on the office floor. The short, which also involves a gang of doughnuts and a cupcake who’s late to the party, features hilarious voice acting by the animators themselves.
The collective finds its groove in designing its characters, which is also where the heart of Plaisir Sucré really lies despite its absurd story. “Creating new characters is the thing we love the most about animation. It is a lot of fun to create personalities and to imagine how a character, or a pastry, would react to each and every situation,” the animators explain. They tell us backstories of the characters that didn’t appear on screen, but which are absolutely plausible given the personalities of the characters; how Stephane rode to work on his scooter and how he’s in love with the Magaly, the company’s accountant who he writes secret poems for because he “never has the guts to tell her.”
They also take great care in putting in the small details in the animation itself. “For Stephane, we wanted to have a tidy and meticulous guy with a simple office life,” the team says. “For example, it was obvious to us that Stephane would wear some kind of medical shoes because he always chooses comfort over style. Definitely with Velcro, because it’s safer and easier to tie.”
The personality of the doughnut came naturally in finding a contrast to Stephane’s personality. “Stephane is so placid that he can’t even defend himself against a little pastry. To reinforce this misunderstanding, we add the fact that the doughnut is speaking German so Stephane is completely bewildered,” they say. The shapes, clothing, and colouring come after this initial character design, with the animators continuing to tweak their traits as they build the film’s environment and decide on their voices.
In producing these shorts, the animators usually bring individual ideas to their very casual pre-production meetings. “We gather around a pint of beer to discuss them, or some good old whisky if we’re really struggling,” they joke. “Once we’ve done all the designs and the storyboard, the three of us start working on the production.” From the outset, they start with modelling the character’s rigs in order to start working on pre-visualisations, or the rough animation, that they build the rest of the project on. “We think this is one of the most important parts of the process, so we always push this stage to be as early as possible,” the animators explain.
After that, Corentin takes on the texturing and surfacing of the characters, Oscar continues on the rigging while Camille models the rest of the environment. The animation, done by Oscar and Camille, and further hair and fur texturing, done by Corentin, is the final part of the main production process. “Everything happens really quickly after that: the renders, the problems, the fixes at 11 pm, the renders again. And finally, it was done!” they say. In turn, Plaisir Sucré ticks all the boxes: it’s technically proficient, passionate, and filled with so much heart.