Often, the game industry looks up to the Hollywood industry unnecessarily, I think, since games are in a way the future of content, because it's interactive. It seems like we should be defining our own content instead of borrowing from Hollywood.
YM: Exactly. I'm glad you say that, because this is exactly what we feel, and we're putting into motion what it takes to achieve that for sure.
I assume there's also more physical space to grow in Montreal than in some other places like Paris, for instance.
Also Montreal has a pretty big traditional animation scene to begin with, right?
Are you hiring from that talent pool or at least looking at them?
YM: Both. We're comparing, and we're hiring. Schools and training programs are being set up. Even before we set up in Montreal ten years ago, Montreal was definitely the place for this industry to grow from the vast amount of talented people. We're talking to those guys, and we need to, because even on the gaming side, they're helping us to build pipelines.
Is Ubisoft going to be doing more with university programs and internships to not only train people but also to potentially hire them?
YM: We have set up the campus in Montreal, with colleges and universities partially financed by the government and Ubisoft. This year 140 people will get out of this school with a diploma and will be able to join the industry. It was needed, because there is a vast amount of talented people, but the more we go, the less there is. But there's still a lot of people wanting and willing to join this industry, so it was needed to set up training programs. We were happy to start this initiative years ago.
I know Canada is keen on becoming more of a technological and creative force, so I imagine that they have been somewhat helpful to you guys in that regard.
YM: Absolutely, and to the whole industry. We were the first around which this work has been made possible, but today we still have these things that profit the whole industry, and that's good.
Do you have the ability for people within the existing structures at Ubisoft Montreal to move into a new digital initiative?
YM: Absolutely. To my surprise, [it's happened with] a lot of people -- not just the ones I was overseeing like the animation guys -- but the art directors, illustrators, and people who wanted to explore a different form of putting their work into perspective. That was cool.
I've heard recently that a lot of art directors at the larger studios get very frustrated. They wind up being less creative, because they have to be the conduit from which the bosses communicate their idea to the regular artists. They just wind up being a middleman.
YM: Some art directors like the constraint we have on the video game side, and some others don't and prefer prerendered. But yeah, true art directors still want to create.