Pierre Perifel
Pierre Perifel
Biographical Information
Full Name
Nationality French
Home Los Angeles, CA
Occupation(s) Animator
Background Information
Character(s) Played
Pierre Perifel is the lead character animator for North and supervising animator on Rise of the Guardians.


Pierre found out that he was really into animation when he was in High School. First, he went to an art school called Emile Cohl to learn drawing basically. Pierre studied at Emile Cohl for three years and before even graduating, he tried the entrance exam for Gobelins and got in. He studied for three years at Gobelins and graduated with a movie called The Building, which people liked very much. In the jury, there was someone from DreamWorks Animation and they proposed that Pierre join the studio. But at the time he wanted to do 2D and there was only 3D there. Also, his wife was pregnant. So, he refused that first proposal.

At the same time, a very good friend of his was interviewed and was hired. Two years later, he came to visit him on vacation. He left a demo reel at DreamWorks and they remembered him. So, they told him that they still had a spot for him. During those two years, Pierre had done his 2D things like Lucky Luke, Nocturnia, Curious George, The Illustionist, and he was ready to move on to something else and for an experience abroad. He arrived at DreamWorks in 2008 and his first thing was a 2D short movie for Kung Fu Panda, Secrets of the Furious Five. He got an Annie Award for that animation.

After that, he went on doing some CG. He worked a little bit on Monsters Vs. Aliens for like two months. Then he moved to Shrek 4, which he loved. On Kung Fu Panda 2, they gave him some 2D sequences to do, as well as leading the bad guy. He didn’t have a team of animators, but was in charge of him, which was really cool. He got an Annie Award nomination for animation of Lord Shen. After that, he switched on Guardians where was promoted as Supervising Animator. And now his doing: Me and My Shadow.

Rise of the Guardians

  • What is it like to be an Animation Supervisor?
    • You discover that it’s not just about you being good at animation. It’s also about being good at management. There are people above you who ask you to do things and you have to ask your team to do those things as well. This is certainly not what I love the most in being an Animation Sup. It’s just one side of it, and then, of course, there’s the learning experience of how to deal with everyone. You have to learn listening. Of course, you can be a good leader naturally, but I think you always have to learn from experience, you know. So, it’s a mix of being able to do good animation and to lead your team to a greater artistic achievement, making them wanting to do more.
  • What kind of artistic achievements did you reach on Guardians?
    • There were a lot of characters per shot to animate – really a lot!! – and then we wanted a very precise and realistic animation, very much pushed. We wanted real emotions with very detailed facial expressions, facial animation. Because we had a quite realistic style in terms of design and visuals of the movie. So, we couldn’t go very cartoony with the characters, obviously. We had to just push the realistic envelop with the animation. That’s what we did.
      Every single animator that was coming on the show, we asked them to do two animation tests. One was based on eyes study. Eyes animation from live action reference. What makes an eye move naturally? That means studying very carefully what the muscles involved are, how blink happens, how it interacts with the brows, the cheeks, the nose, the lips and the eye itself. Then, we asked the animators to do a physical test – full body, chest, weight, movements. Then we were ready to go, using a lot of references to achieve that realistic style. We set our basics in terms of acting, developing the personalities of the characters in very specific ways: what makes Jack Jack, North North, Tooth Tooth… We wanted those acting choices to be very clear in the movie and to be consistent throughout the film.
  • Indeed, the five legends couldn’t be more different from each other, be it in their kind, their costume, their reactions, or their way of expressing emotions.
    • The nature of the characters themselves and the designs were very helpful to animate them. Tooth fairy is a mix of a bird and a human, Bunny is a bunny, North is a big square basically, with arms, legs and head, Jack can fly… Those things give you very clear directions for the way they’re gonna move. Take Tooth-fairy. We wondered what kind of a bird would be interesting to study and to integrate to her movements. We thought hummingbird would make a good reference. All the more since she has all those mini-fairies around her almost all the time. They really are like hummingbirds. We thought: what if we gave a little bit of that movement to Tooth fairy herself? What if she never walks, she’s always flying? When she’s weaker, that would be the only moment when she would walk.
      As for North, he can’t move easily. Basically, he’s a square, a cube. He’s always two legs planted in the ground, and limited movements. He’s kind of a Russian soldier, very martial, stiff, almost rude in some ways, and at the same time, he’s Santa Claus, the jolly, playful, big guy close to the children. Because of those two personalities, we could alternate two different qualities of movements: stiff movements and much more playful ones. Bunny is like a triangle, which makes him move like a rocket. Sandman is a circle, an eery circle. He doesn’t have any gravity, or not the same gravity as the others, floating all the time.
      Brainstorming with the director, the head of animation and all the Animation Sups led us to those very specific characters. Of course, it was not just done at the beginning of the production. The characters are always evolving throughout the production, with your team bringing ideas you never thought of, and most of the time we embrace those new ways of moving, while keeping them within the boundaries that were set at the beginning of the movie. When you see the movie in its entirety, I think it’s quite consistent. Each character has his very own way of moving and reacting.
  • Director Peter Ramsey was a storyboard artist, the perfect mix between writing and art. How did you work with him?
    • It shows quite a lot in his way of directing. DreamWorks often looks to story artists to direct their animated films. At least, all of the directors I worked with were story artists. Story artists occupy a central position in film making, so that’s logical for them to become directors. You have to know about story, about visuals, about animation as well. The difference with Peter was that he was a story artist in live action. For a long, long time. He worked with Spielberg, Coppola and other big names. In that way, he was very different from the other directors I had because he would be directing us as actors not as animators. He was very specific and demanding in terms of acting, pushing the emotions as far as he could, trying to reach as close as possible the truth of emotion.
  • What is your favorite scene in the movie?
    • There is a scene where the Guardians need to find a new guardian to help them fight the Bogeyman. All the Guardians regroup around the Globe Room. North is trying to convince them that there’s a threat to all of them, and they don’t believe him. He tries to make his point, being super big in his movements, trying to emphasize everything he says. It’s very theatrical. So, I had to push a lot his movements, making him bigger than he usually is. It was a lot of fun to do!
  • To me, Rise of the Guardians is really the most ambitious DreamWorks Animation film to date.
    • Maybe not the most ambitious, but probably one of the most ambitious ones. It’s a very big, epic movie. When you see the visuals in theater, it’s so rich, there’s so many things, so many layers of details. Animation-wise, style-wise, character-wise, lighting, visual effects…it really shows. Every single department was at the top of their game. They did huge, phenomenal work![1]


  • Rise of the Guardians (lead character animator: North) / (supervising animator) - 2012
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (animator: 2D sequence production) / (lead animator: "Shen") - 2011
  • Shrek Forever After (animator) - 2010
  • The Illusionist (animator: Neomis) - 2010
  • Monsters vs. Aliens (animator) - 2009
  • Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five (Video short) (animator) - 2008
  • Kung Fu Panda (additional animator) / (traditional animator: "Zeng" end credits, "Commander Vachir" end credits - uncredited) - 2008


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