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Interview: Michael Bengtsson from Meindbender Animation Studio

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Meindbender Animation Studio was founded in 2006 by Michael Bengtsson, Tony Österlund and Olov Burman. It focuses mainly on character development and animation amongst other areas. The studio is located in Trollhättan, Sweden.

Recently, Meindbender have produced a short ident entitled ‘Pirates’ for Cartoon Network. Skwigly speaks to the CEO of Meindbender, Michael Bengtsson about producing the ident and their plans for the future.

Where did the idea for the Pirates ident come from?

The idea for the pirate was actually developed long before we knew we where going to take it into production, by Olov Burman, creative director at Meindbender.

Apparently it was all done in CGI, but it looks like stop frame animation, how did you bring about this effect?

Apart from being very stubborn and being a part of a great team, the only magic here would be the render software itself, Maxwell renderer, which really does a great job of synthesizing the real world. Instead of climbing technical walls we found our self constantly focusing more on the design itself, something that has proved invaluable when working with a smaller group.

What other software, techniques did you use to produce the piece?

Maya was used for most of the work. But also Modo for modelling, Mudbox and 3d coat for texturing, Photoshop and a bit of After Effects for compositing.  Two great plugins we used for Maya include DisplaceD ( and Bosmear (  Both of these where a great addition to the work flow.

Were there any major challenges in producing the ident?

The water proved quite tricky as we wanted a curved world, something that was very memory intensive. In the end we just took the simple approach and simulated the water with a normal vertical gravity and the bended the world with a lattice in Maya.

What are you most proud of about the production?

Next to being able to deliver something worthwhile for our client of course, I’m most proud of the know how gained during the production, something that have led us much closer to finishing the pipeline of our upcoming short.

Would you be interested in doing more work based on the pirates theme?

Yes, it’s not excluded at all. We like the characters and general theme, and now when we have all these assets made for it, it would be a pity not to do more.

What’s next on the horizon for Meindbender Animation studios?

As I touched on before, besides continuing with commercial work we are getting ready for our first in house short called ‘Hairy Gold’, which in turn will act as the final test of the technology we have built up for our end goal, a full feature movie.

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