I first watched Puppy Knight at Sheridan’s Industry day in 2015. I had immediate attachment to it since I am a lover of video games and action anime alike. Puppy Knight was one of those films that were didn’t take itself too seriously and just fun to watch.
Please enjoy the film and the interview to follow below.
Kyu: Hi Julien, thank you for agreeing to do the interview. Can you tell us bit about yourself?
Julien Capati: I’m a 23 year old residing in Hamilton; currently employed at Pipeline Studios for character animation on FANGBONE.
K: What was the inspiration behind the story of Puppy Knight?
JC: Puppy Knight came forth from my need to create something that was really crazy and over-the-top. From the get-go I didn’t want to make a serious film, I really just wanted to make a spectacle and have fun with it. There’s a lot of pressure in fourth year to create a ‘magnum opus’ so early in your career, I really just wanted to have fun and appeal to my inner child.
Also Sir Strawberry and Princess Honey are based on my parents dogs; thought I should add that, haha..
K: Puppy Knight seems heavily influenced by video game and action anime. Were there any favourites in particular you were influences by or like to share with us?
JC: There’s a bunch of stuff that influenced this film!
I’ll start off by saying that heavily I’m influenced a lot by older anime. Mostly from the 70s through to the 90s. I’m a big fan of Monkey Punch, Ken Ishikawa, Eiichiro Oda and Hiroyuki Imaishi.
Imaishi in particular, I love his sense of posing and movement. His work is over-the-top but also limited when it needs to be, something I tried to emulate in Puppy Knight.
I’m also influenced by John Kricfalusi, mostly for his really gross (yet appealing) expressions. A lot of that went into the antagonist “Count Catula”.
On the video game side there’s too many things to name, but it’s mostly based around the gaming era of the 80s and 90s (with some touches of current generation gaming). I didn’t want to exclusively use one brand of console as a setting for the film; so instead I opted to mesh the best of all worlds (NES, SNES, Genesis, and Arcades in particular). In a nutshell they’re Sega/Capcom influenced characters in a Nintendo setting. I really wanted to capture the feeling of playing a video game in that generation.
Aside from visuals, a lot of effort went into the sound design as well. A lot of it was actually inspired by Captain N: The Game Master. I tried making the sound effects as authentic as possible, although I was selective in what sounded 8-bit versus what sounded normal. I felt having it all in 8-bit would be a bit distracting for most people.
The “announcer” that accompanies the protagonist, Sir Strawberry, is inspired from Metal Slug and Super Sentai, specifically Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.
K: What was the general process of making the film and what was the most challenging part for you?
JC: Boarding was done in Photoshop and then timed in Premiere with sound effects.
On the animation side it was done “traditionally” in Toon Boom Harmony. Although some scenes I did cheat with peg animation.
Backgrounds were also in Photoshop along with the pixel art that accentuates some scenes.
After all that tiny art direction details (gradients, blurs, glows, etc.) are added and comped in After Effects.
As I’ve stated before I really just wanted to have fun on this film, but because of that came critique and feedback on what my film “should” be. A lot of it boiled down to people not “getting” the type of movie I wanted, which is understandable to say the least. In the end, I made the film I wanted and took most advice with a grain of salt.
K: You are coming up to a year since your graduation from Sheridan college. How was your experience working as a professional so far?
JC: It’s been pretty hectic and crazy, but I like it. Hard to think that I’ve been out of school for that long.
In the beginning it was kind of hard adjusting to a working environment. Trying to hit a deadline while learning how to use a program is crazy! But now I look back and laugh at all of that.
K: Do you have any advice to give to the students graduating soon?
JC: Don’t stress! Take it easy and have fun making your films. You’ve been given a year to make what you want, that’s a gift on it’s own. Everyone is stressed to hit a deadline, but don’t let any of that get to you. Put your head down and keep fighting.
Your school career may be ending soon, but your career in animation is just starting. Even if you don’t get an interview from Industry Day, it is NOT the end for your career. Keep trying and you’ll get there.
Take it easy, have fun and good luck!
K: Where can people go to see more of your work?
K: Thanks Julien for the interview. Looking forward to see more from you.
JC: No problem! Thanks for having me.
I love this short, thanks for doing the interview Kyu!