A well-kept secret is hiding within the walls of Ubisoft Saguenay: a talented gameplay animator in charge of animating the birds found in Assassin’s Creed Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla. For Sonia Pronovost, this job is a golden opportunity to combine two of her greatest passions, birds and character animation.
Since she was a little girl, Sonia has loved walking in the woods. She finds the smell of the forest and bird songs soothing. She likes to watch the little creatures she comes across. Over time, she developed a deep love for birds. She is mainly fascinated by their behaviour, intelligence and high-flying prowess.
When her team leader on Assassin’s Creed Origins entrusted her with the animation of Senu, the eagle that accompanies Bayek on his adventures, it was like a dream come true for Sonia. She had the incredible chance to combine her work, which she has been doing for over 20 years, and her passion for birds.
Since Senu’s role is significant, Sonia scanned the area around her using a drone and locates important points of interest for players on the map. She had to create realistic animations.
Before getting down to work, she decided to take a falconry course. This unforgettable experience led her to further study the movements of a Harris’s hawk and understand the feeling of having a “large bird of prey perched on your arm.” She then applied her experience when creating the animations needed for the bird’s movements. She also added her own personal touch, which the development team really liked. “I wanted there to be a close connection between Bayek and Senu, so I created various interactions like the option of scratching Senu’s neck and head,” she explained with a huge smile.
She has had the opportunity to “give birth” to three birds during her career: Senu, Ikaros and the latest, Sýnin. Each time, a new story of maternal love begins for our “mama bird.”
When animating Sýnin, the crow that accompanies Eivor in Valhalla, Sonia was determined to highlight the dark and badass side of its personality. “Crows are very fascinating. They have an instinct for survival, finding food and even anticipating danger,” she explained. Her statement alludes to the role Sýnin will play for her master in the search for new northern territories (wink).
Sonia is very grateful for her team because they give her varied opportunities and a lot of freedom. “When I come up with animations that are out of the box, like enabling Bayek to feed Senu or Sýnin to peck Eivor, my team trusts me. It’s really exciting!” she said.
She is confident that she will have other opportunities in the future to marry her job with her passions, since she loves nature and animals, two elements which are often a part of video games.