All around the world, monuments and statues are honoring historical events of the region or political figures that helped shape the world into what it is today. There are some statues for religion, nature, folklore, and even tragedies as well. But how often do we see statues portraying pop-culture figures from our favorite movies, cartoons, books, or TV shows?
French 3D artist Benoit Lapray is well-known for his digital artwork and editing skills. He teamed up with 95 Magenta and Emmanuelle Vonck Lugand to replace statues in the streets of Paris with well-known characters. Digitally, of course. They chose to display characters like Goku from Dragon Ball, Darth Vader from Star Wars, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, and 10 others. They did a great job—the statues fit in perfectly and it's easy to imagine taking pictures next to them while traveling.
"A photograph has to tell us a story," writes Benoit on his website. He was born in 1980 in Bourgogne, France. He studied art, journalistic communication, and photography at school in Lyon, France. Benoit has been a full-time advertising photographer and retoucher for 7 years. He works in Paris and creates a lot of projects, some for work, some just for fun.
Troops Of The Empire (Star Wars)
Grey Pilgrim (Lord Of The Rings)
Benoit gave an interview to Bored Panda, telling us what inspired him to create these edits: "It was the city of Paris that inspired me when I moved there in 2014. All these monuments and all these statues present on the squares and in the streets. So I thought that instead of all these historical figures from the history of France, we could imagine a kind of open-air museum to the glory of the heroes of pop culture. To pay homage to them and highlight the importance they have today's culture."
Amazon Princess (Wonder Woman)
The artist told us why he chose these specific characters: "The choice was not an easy one to make, as there are so many iconic characters from pop culture who deserve to be present in the images of this series. But it was the places themselves (which I photographed) and the attitude of the characters that determined my choices. This was the longest part of this work: listing all the figures of iconic characters and selecting them according to their attitude."
Benoit also told us how he comes up with the ideas for the edits: "For my part, I find my ideas by exploring new places. These are the places that inspire my stories. I like to photograph places and then rework the images to add elements and tell strong stories."
Servant Of The Princess (Legend Of Zelda)
Lord Of The Empire (Star Wars)
The artist told us about the team behind this project and the process it took to create it: "I am used to working alone on my projects, but for this one I could not, with my skills, succeed in carrying it out. So I had to find collaborators to help me, especially on the CGI part of the project, which is a very long process. The process of this work is very long. There is already the whole part of location scouting and selection of the sets. Then come the choice and the purchase of the figurines. You have to find the characters that best fit with this or that scenery. It's a very long part and not very fun, but essential for the rest. After that, there is the shooting part which is the most fun part, although not obvious when you have to photograph a city like Paris where everything is constantly moving. You have to manage to come on the right day when the light is good and there are no disturbing elements in the shooting field (like works, or badly parked vehicles.)"
"Once the set images are made, the work is still far from being finished because I had to 'scan' each of the figurines (in my studio) with the photogrammetry process. Then I gave these images to my CGI collaborators on this project (who are the studio 95 Magenta and the CGI graphic designer Emmanuelle Vonck) who took care of modeling each character to then modify their texture and transform them into statues. The process took 2 years to obtain 13 visuals, it's long but there is an explanation for that. Indeed each one of us works for clients, for commissioned work, every day, and we have to find the time, aside, to work on this kind of project. But it was worth it. I'm quite happy with the final result, at least it's very close to what I had in mind. Thanks to my 2 collaborators for their work and their trust in this project."
Angry Man (The Incredible Hulk)
Pizza Eater (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
"The coolest part of this work is the shots I had to take, on film (with my medium format cameras) in Paris. Even if it's not easy because you often have to come back several times on the spot (to have the right light, and the right weather conditions) it's still the coolest part of a work like this. Then, the hardest part is all the CGI work to rework the characters and to transform them into stone and iron statues. It's quite long to do. But when you have a good team and everyone does what they have to do best, it becomes less tedious, and the result is fantastic."
Warrior Of The Forest Clan (Avatar)
Cartoon Couple (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
The artist shared how long creating one picture takes: "It's hard to say. But on average, if you count all the steps: location scouting, shooting, film development, film scans, studio shots of the miniatures to scan them (with photogrammetry), CGI modeling, CGI texturing, and the integration of CGI characters in photographs. It can take several weeks."
"I think the characters I preferred to work with within this series are Jessica & Roger Rabbit. I love the final image, it's very soft, and this statue is so unlikely in a Parisian garden. I love the difference."
Pocket Monster And Its Trainer (Pokemon)
"For the moment I have no other project than this one. Like my previous series 'The Quest for the Absolute' (which itself generated a lot of interest at the time), which I started in 2010 and which is still ongoing, this one is also far from being finished. The concept is very strong and deserves to be well developed. Also, there are so many other characters that I would like to direct that I still have a few years of work ahead of me! After that, I don't know yet if I'm going to continue in Paris or if I'm going to extend this work to other cities in the world? In any case, I have a lot of ideas in mind for the future, and I hope to find enough time to put them into images!"
Benoit tells us more about himself: "I am passionate about cinema, photography (of course) and everything related to the image in general. I also do a lot of sports, it was one of my great passions a few years ago. But today with my work I have less time to practice. I love the great outdoors, nature, adventure."
"Well, I'm 40 years old, I'm a freelance advertising photographer, retoucher, and artist, and I live in Paris. I started photography at the age of 20. It was just a hobbit at first, but after a few years and a few schools later (in Applied Arts and Journalistic Communication), I decided to make it my profession and to get serious about it. I did a rotation at the beginning: in the photo department of a museum in Lyon, then in an advertising photography studio. And after a few years as an employee in 2 different studios (in Haute-Savoie and then in Lyon), I decided to come and try my luck in Paris and started my own business."