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The Mike Toole Show - The Hard Cel

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Joined: 24 Aug 2008
Posts: 85
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:42 pm Reply with quote
Wonderful, great stuff, Mike!

That Chief Chujo cel autographed by Imagawa himself...NICE!

Top it off with the in-depth video FTW!

I spent three years as a digital cel painter working on three motion pictures, and everything you said is true. I learned more about animation as a cel painter than I'd learned before or since.

We were all-digital, using Animo, which is what many a Japanese studio used for a time (Bandai's logo with the Easter Island heads was done entirely in Animo). Eventually, most anime studios switched to RETAS and now there are so many programs out there, it's impossible to keep up.

Thank you for this. It really makes me appreciate it all over again.

@evilgordo - Love your tastes! Is that your website? If so, I've been an admirer for a long time. Really nice work!
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Joined: 05 Nov 2009
Posts: 67
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 2:37 pm Reply with quote
A lot of Evangelion cels were stolen. Same with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. It happens!

You know, that actually explains a curious claim by Toshio Okada:

OKADA: Oh! I think producers always say that. But I talked with Mr. Anno about this a month ago, and then he said, “I’m almost the producer of EVANGELION, but I must be so, because Tatsunoko did not do anything for EVANGELION.” See, he is very disappointed with Tatsunoko, and some rumors have said that Tatsunoko lost the film, or cels before they were shot.


OKADA: And I asked Mr. Anno, “Is it the truth?” And he says, in a dark voice, “Yes.”

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Joined: 16 Aug 2006
Posts: 847
Location: Toledo, U.S.A.
PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:10 pm Reply with quote
Starting off with what our pal Mike has to say...

If you're a serious animation fan, you'll know right away that cel refers to cellulose acetate, the plastic stuff where animators throw down ink and paint that turns into wonderful entertainment for you and me. Cels have been in use for animation almost since the inception of the medium, though the earliest animators used actual celluloid (the hilariously flammable stuff that was used to create film).

You probably mean cellulose nitrate then. That was what they were using between switching to acetate sometime by the 1950's I think. Motion picture film in the theaters also used nitrate too. In collecting cels of this period, it's important to note the yellowing caused on them due to the composition.

The real person we have to thank for getting the idea for cels in the first place instead of cutting around a drawing like so many others were trying in the 1910's is Earl Hurd, who partnered with J. Randolph Bray, shaped what hand-drawn cel animation was to be for the rest of the 20th century.

Here's the thing about traditional cel animation: it's a complex, assembly-line practice that requires many, many expert artists

In the US during it's "golden age" of animation, this job was often handled by women (true story).

and leaves behind intimidatingly large piles of by-product, both paper and acetate. We human beings are pack-rats by nature, so it wasn't long before animation and comic fans began to seek out these leftovers of the production process for themselves. Now, to be fair, most of these cels are pretty pedestrian; they're small shots of big characters, or they're scenery, or they're Itchy's arm instead of his whole body. But many cels are instantly recognizable (and thus instantly desirable), and a select few, especially when combined fully with original props and background elements, are good enough to hang in a damn art gallery.

See how it happens. Studios simply didn't want it and often they were thrown out or reused (as was the case for many animation cels back in those days when they can pay someone like Chuck Jones to wash off Ub Iwerks' Flip the Frog cels). It wasn't until the later part of this century when you began to see that pack-rat hoarding mentality settle in for those of us so damn interesting in these doodles for many productions.

A lot of studios do still use pencils to create layouts and genga and sometimes even douga, but these items can be frustratingly hard to track down. No anime studio still uses cels - even Studio Ghibli has shifted away from acetate - so the supply, and naturally the interest, is dwindling. But the hobby is still vital and interesting, and like I've said, it will give you a window into how the anime industry worked - and how, in many ways, it continues to work.

It's a shame there's not a market for just the drawings themselves since I would be more interesting in the drawings myself than cels personally. You be in this business as long as I am, you'll figure it out!

I'm proud of what I've been able to collect over the years in my collection, though I hardly do much with it in flaunting it around so don't ask me what I've got. Wink

Something I should add as well is in how most anime cels are handled. While "inking" was a common to think back in the "Golden Age" in the US (which since the 60's transformed into using a xerox process to get the outlines on plastic), most anime cels are done through a thermographic process using a machine like this...

The drawing is placed below the cel to be used and is feed through here to transfer the outlines to it. It's the same machine often used by schools for overhead transparencies for decades. What really kills it sometimes is getting an anime cel that appears to have very faint lines as often the pigments in the paint eat away at the outlines, often I get cels that appear to have those lines retouched as well.
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