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Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead… Les Rennais de Golaem win an Emmy Award for their special effects

The huge army of white walkers ready to descend on the male world of the cult series Game of Thrones? It’s thanks to them. Zombie mob attacks in The Walking Dead? Also.

600 projects for television, cinema and advertising

Listing the contributions of these six residents of Rennes who are passionate about cinema and IT is a real undertaking: for 10 years, their crowd effects creation software has made it possible to carry out more than 600 projects on television, in cinema and in advertising. . Collage, the Pan Am, Once Upon a Time or Love Death and Robots series, currently on Netflix, or the Watchmen, Black Panther, Pirates of the Caribbean or Kaamelott films.

Les Rennais de Golaem took part in the special effects of the series Love, Death and Robots (Le Télégramme / Mathilde Regis)

A French first

A work that has just won them an Emmy Award in the Engineering category. The previous year, the Rennes team had already won the prestigious award, and became the first French company to be crowned since the creation of the technical Emmy Awards, in 1978. A little earlier, the team was also crowned with the César trophy. & Technical and would compete for the Oscars.

It is a guarantee of quality

“We are extremely happy to have ticked the box of the two technical Emmy”, rejoices Stéphane Donikian, CEO and founder of Golaem. “It’s a recognition of the community. And from a North American point of view, it is a guarantee of quality ”, A prize also awarded to their historical competitor, who created the use of crowd simulation software for cinema with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

A crowd simulator

At first, Golaem’s bet seemed crazy. At the Research Institute in Computer Science and Random Systems in Rennes (Irisa), this handful of researchers focused more on optimizing the running frequency of SNCF trains… but already thanks to a crowd simulator!

But Stéphane Donikian, passionate cinephile at the origin of the Traveling festival in the Breton capital, for which he has been a volunteer for a long time, ends up responding to the call of the 7th art. A company is created and incubated in Rennes. She is called Golaem, in reference to the character of Hebrew mythology. “This clay monster is static until a rabbi brings it to life from inanimate matter,” says the founder.

A mix with acting

From there to seeing in their software a kind of miracle? “For fiction, there is always a mix with acting games,” explains Stéphane Donikian. “Behind our synthetic characters, there are also real people whose movements are captured to be used and transformed.”

Increasingly realistic characters and increasingly complex and sophisticated behaviors

In its early days, the team starts out “in a humble way”. “We made it possible to do background extras for commercials and series with the first version of the software. Little by little, we have enriched the potential and then started working with cinema in version 3. Now, we are approaching the foreground with increasingly realistic characters and increasingly complex and sophisticated behaviors ”.

The phenomenal success of Game of Thrones

The real spotlight comes in particular with the phenomenal success of the Game of Thrones series, for which Golaem’s software is used from season 3.

We are a small structure, this allows us to listen to the needs of our customers and to be very close to many artists in the studios.

Around the world, there are currently seven players who can enable the creation of digital crowds. A small and constantly evolving sector. ” We are a small structure, which allows us to listen to the needs of our clients and to be very close to many artists in the studios. They feed us ideas by telling us what they would like to be able to do. This constant codesign with our users allows us to always add more functionalities and to be at the cutting edge ”, continues Stéphane Donikian.

Towards interactive and real time

The imminent release of version 8 of the software proves it. “We will be able to interact with the crowds! Simulation work is now becoming interactive and in real time for use in video games or in virtual reality ”. Covid epidemic requires, the six Rennais will not be able to get their Emmy Award. This will not prevent them, despite everything, from continuing to further invigorate the creativity of artists and directors from all over the world.