The secret of success of the "esoteric" studio Fortiche: It is owned by the artist

Netflix's new series Arcane isn't just good by the iffy standards of video-game adaptations - it's something of a masterpiece in its own right. Audiences and pros have reacted accordingly: the League of Legends spin-off shot to the top of the streamer's ranking of most-watched English-language shows in November, and has received nine nominations at the Annies (more than any other series this year).

This outcome has put Fortiche, the 12-year-old Paris-based studio that produced the animation, clearly on the map. The company employed around 15 people seven years ago and has seen its workforce balloon to approximately 300 during work on Arcane, according to Alexis Wanneroy, a lead animator on the show.

In a recent video podcast (watch below), Wanneroy discusses the production, as well as Fortiche's pipeline and recent growth (he heads up a new Fortiche studio in the French city of Montpellier). As a 14-year veteran of Dreamworks, the animator compares his experience of Hollywood with Fortiche's approach.

Crucial to the French studio's outlook, he says, is the fact that the three owners and founders - Pascal Charrue, Jérôme Combe, Arnaud Delord - “are all artists.” Wanneroy elaborates:

Wanneroy goes on to praise Disney's formula, which produces “appealing” films. But the same doesn't apply elsewhere in Hollywood:

The animator explains how his studio produced five-plus hours of high-quality animation in two years, despite having a smaller team and budget than a Hollywood studio. Tech like real-time rigs helped, as did decisions like the reuse of shots (with lighting and other aspects changed). “It's done in a smart way,” he summarizes.

In the video, Wanneroy drills deep into the artistic choices made on Arcane. He even shows some storyboards. The conversation has much of interest for animators and artists, whether or not they've seen the show.