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#OFFFTalks | Vallée Duhamel

Director duo Julien Vallée and Eve Duhamel, or Vallée Duhamel as they are more commonly known, create exciting and unexpected works that distort reality through visual storytelling. We met with Vallée Duhamel at OFFF Barcelona, where we are media partners, and briefly talked.

Interview: Yağız Genç

Julien and Eve, can you share the story of the Vallée Duhamel studio and how you came together? How did your different backgrounds and disciplines of both of you melt into new creative synergy?

Julien Vallée: We met in 2008. I have a graphic design background and graphic design that I turned to stop motion at some point because I was interested in animation. 

Eve Duhamel: I come from the visual arts, like more art school. When we met, I was painting, and then we just met, and we started to work together. Julien was doing a lot of paper crafts at the time. I was doing painting, but at school, I was more into visual installation. But then, when you get out of school and live in a super small apartment, you cannot really do a video installation.

So when I met Julien, it was super exciting because Julien had the studio, and we could just build stuff and share.

Julien Vallée: We moved to Berlin for the first half of the year, and this is where we started collaborating. Then, in 2013, we officially founded Vallée Duhamel. In the beginning, we were around ten people. Producing smaller-scale video projects, graphic design, identity for art festivals, and stuff like that. Then, eventually, more and more commercial work. I guess after a few years, we realized that managing a studio was also a bit time-consuming and a lot of human relations to deal with and stuff like that. 

Eve Duhamel: Then you realize you do a lot less creative work. So we decided to have agents or production companies from outside and just be the two of us. 

That's a milestone, right?

Julien Vallée: Yesbut it's great, too, because we got to understand everybody's role in video production and the challenges. So, it makes something interesting when we're working as larger-scale video production. We understand the role of each of the people and the struggle. So, we're trying to make the best of it in our creative process, keeping in mind the production parameters.

Can you share one realization of yours about how your work stands out? What feature of your work impresses the viewers the most?

Julien Vallée:  I think we've always tried to evolve in a way. We started by doing some tangible work, like every video effect would be in the camera, like building rigs to make stuff move, and it was very crafty. Then, eventually, just incorporating a little more... I guess this is what we've been known for. It is very tangible, like video productions.

Eve Duhamel: Like effects that were from the beginning of cinema, like with fishing and wire and just doing everything on set. We love that, and we love it also, but now we like to focus more on the narrative and what our story is going to be and then find the best way to do it. Is it like with post-production, is it all by hand, which we also like. Is it AI or something like that? It's like starting with the visual and story and then finding it. 

Julien Vallée: I think you said it right, too. It's visually coming from the background that we're from. Every frame we look at is a canvas where we need balance, contrast, color, and action. 

Eve Duhamel: We're picky with all the little details.

In different disciplines, but you had done so much experience with these balance and things that your visual character just actually emerged from there. 

Julien Vallée: I would say so. I guess visually, there's something, there's always something that feels like us.

Can you tell us a little bit about your new video artwork dedicated to OFFF?

Julien Vallée: Hector, the director of the festival, and Pep asked us what would be… They usually do video recaps of the event, like any event would do. It's pretty corporate; it shows the lecture, it shows the people, and it's interesting. But I guess they wanted something a little more artistic-driven. 

Eve Duhamel: It's the same thing that they do now with the speaker video; they always ask an artist or somebody to do a video for that, and it's really like you can do whatever you want; he doesn't even see it until it's done, and now he wanted to do the same thing for the recap video. We don't even show anything; we show the process and how we feel… Maybe you want to explain it as well. 

Julien Vallée: Yes, it's the story of a character who is inspired by a kind of inner self, and it's very motivating to see how people work, what their process is, the great things they do. So it's always getting back home with this spark of energy, creative energy. So that's kind of the story of a character or inner creative character is a source of awakening, and it's going to change everything around this character's life. So it should be how at the end of the month or the beginning of May, but that's the main story. So, it's a metaphor for how you feel coming back from an event like this one. 

You're focusing on the essence.

Eve Duhamel: Exactly.

What trends do you think will shape the future of the digital art, CGI, and animation industry?

Julien Vallée: There's this significant shift right now with artificial intelligence and the way even tools like Adobe, for instance, incorporate it directly within the tool. It has an impact on the way that you work and the way that you create. I feel like there's this big revolution where everybody doesn't know where to pull strings from and how to use them. Is it okay to use them, or is it not? It's so polarized. At some point, we're going to come out of it, and what's going to remain is the work that I'm seeing, touching me. Like, do I like it? Does it mean something? Like is it emotionally captivating? And however you've done it, I guess this is what's going to remain because it's like the beginning of 3D when Pixar did, like, a Toy Story, everybody was like, oh my God, 3D is never going to be the same again. Like, everything has to reach this level. But at some point, you realize, like, style is interesting when it's not all homogenous. 

Eve Duhamel: And it's the same thing as we were saying before. Like, it's just a new tool that when you have an idea, like for the girl transforming herself in the video, for example, you have this idea and sometimes it's just, it's a new tool that fits well, for this thing you have in your mind. And then, for another thing, it doesn't fit well. For example, the dance and what we're filming needed to be real. But then, sometimes, like when she transforms everything around her, it fits more, and it's like the kind of feel of AI. 


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