Pierre Perifel, director of "Bad Guys," on breaking away from the CG paradigm (video interview)

"What else can we do with the medium of CG?"

This was the first question Pierre Perifel, director of DreamWork Animation's "Bad Guys," asked himself before making his debut film. The trailer for the film already shows that he and his creative team went to great lengths to find the answer, and audiences will get a closer look at the results when the film opens in the U.S. on April 22.

In an interview with Cartoon Brew's official online event partner, INBTWN Animation, Perifel discussed the steps he and his team took to break out of DreamWorks' existing CG paradigm with "The Bad Guys" The veteran animator also spoke about his experience in the field of animation. The veteran animator also discusses how he landed the feature film gig, the films that inspired "The Bad Guys," and the joy of creating a film that families can watch together. Read the full interview here:

Perifel notes that in the past there has been a "quest for realism" and "similar renderings." He points out that DreamWorks even built its own rendering engine to support its push and first used it on "How to Train Your Dragon": it was then established as the standard for DreamWorks feature animation.

Perifel wondered, "But couldn't we be a little more precise in our imagery?" For him, it is not true realism, but rather "a sense of trying to capture. He now feels that "the race for realism [in CG animation] is over," explaining that "'The Lion King' [2019] was the pinnacle of how far it could go."

So he and his team chose to approach the development of "Bad Guys" from a more illustrative standpoint. In an interview, he admits that this was only possible after Sony changed the game with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Thanks to "Spider-Verse," the studio was able to say, "Yeah, we can do this."

"Bad Guys" draws from a deep well visually and narratively. Narratively, it draws from classic heist films such as Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's Eleven" and Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs." The Bad Guys also includes a "Pulp Fiction"-style diner scene familiar to older audiences.

Digging deeper, Perifel admits to a love of graphic novels and anime, including Hayao Miyazaki's earlier works such as "Sherlock Hound," "Lupin III," and "The Castle of Cagliostro." Other visual references include series such as "Cowboy Bebop" and "FLCL," Akira Toriyama's designs for "Dragon Ball," and Benjamin Renner's work on "Ernest & Celestine" and "The Big Bad Fox."

Because of the early rise of animation in Europe, Perifel grew up with easy access to animated films and animated series. In France and much of Europe, he recalls, "there was a lot of animation on television stations."

Now that he lives and works in L.A., Perifel feels that "thanks to streaming platforms, the Japanese influence is beginning to reach America." In his opinion, it is encouraging a cross-pollination of styles. This is one of the reasons Perifel surrounded himself with the European art sector during its development. Perifel wanted a team that understood the influences and sensibilities he wanted to bring to the film.

That influence is felt most strongly in the film's animation. Perifel asked the animators to approach the posing of the characters from a more illustrative standpoint and told them that he did not want them to simply copy reference footage. As a result, the film's crew moved away from what had been built in the previous pipeline. According to Perifel, this caused many of the most significant challenges in the production because "the software and the engine went against the direction we wanted."