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Chicks On Anime - A Look at Key Animation


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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 14256
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:01 pm Reply with quote
Many of the big American studios hire from the same big animation schools like Sheridan College of Canada and CalArts in California (where Disney is a big influence) to get the uniform high-quality talent they maintain. Heck, many of Pixar's head-honchos were classmates when CalArts just started their program more than 30 years ago.

AFAIK, there's really no big animation schools in Japan (though a few big universities just started some programs not too long ago). Plus, Japan is slowly suffering the same runaway production that the American animation industry went through decades ago.
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ArthurFrDent



Joined: 05 Aug 2008
Posts: 466
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:06 pm Reply with quote
having just watched an ep of a show where a main character's animation simply blew up for a very important ep [ie. eyes, face shape totally out of continuity. and not for effect] This interest on key animators and actual production is timely indeed. On the one hand it's kinda sad that it's so difficult to know or find out about the people who actually draw stuff... but on the other, how much do they want to be known anyway? The few behind the scenes things I've seen, they tend to duck and cover. It's one thing to have your name at the credits, quite something else to face a camera. Also, we have seen where an interview taken out of context can be a bad thing...

I guess if I could ask for one thing, it would be an FAQ/lexicon link for more of technical terms and acronym's. Some are familiar, and others not...

It's a great topic, because there is more than meets the eye and how interesting is that extra bit?
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reanimator





PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:35 pm Reply with quote
ArthurFrDent wrote:
having just watched an ep of a show where a main character's animation simply blew up for a very important ep [ie. eyes, face shape totally out of continuity. and not for effect] This interest on key animators and actual production is timely indeed. On the one hand it's kinda sad that it's so difficult to know or find out about the people who actually draw stuff... but on the other, how much do they want to be known anyway? The few behind the scenes things I've seen, they tend to duck and cover. It's one thing to have your name at the credits, quite something else to face a camera. Also, we have seen where an interview taken out of context can be a bad thing...

I guess if I could ask for one thing, it would be an FAQ/lexicon link for more of technical terms and acronym's. Some are familiar, and others not...

It's a great topic, because there is more than meets the eye and how interesting is that extra bit?


Whatever you watched was maybe intentional for sake of artistic expression. Or it also could be mediocre animation that Animation director overlooked.

It's not like Japanese key animators want to be known. Let's just say that these people are camera-shy. These people are normal people like you and I except they draw better than us. It's just that their unique styles bring these people into spotlight. The point is Japanese animation is not something pop out magically. It's a product of labor that requires thousands of drawings.
Young fans are already mesmerized by animation side from Anime. For example, those infamous Haruhi dance enacted by fans that you see off from Youtube and Anime conventions. If that ending was just static images without character movements, we wouldn't see fans doing those dance.

For FAQ and lexicons, there is a English website that kind of explains how Japanese animators work.

http://www.ex.org/2.1/12-beyondtvsafety.html

or You can visit Anipage Daily to find out about Japanese animators
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Whoisthatguy?! An idiot



Joined: 21 Sep 2008
Posts: 16
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:36 pm Reply with quote
This article is missing something. Zac, I demand moar Nerd rage and 10 page long arguments. Nevertheless, good interview I never knew the differences between Key animation until now.
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reanimator





PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:22 pm Reply with quote
enurtsol wrote:
Many of the big American studios hire from the same big animation schools like Sheridan College of Canada and CalArts in California (where Disney is a big influence) to get the uniform high-quality talent they maintain. Heck, many of Pixar's head-honchos were classmates when CalArts just started their program more than 30 years ago.

AFAIK, there's really no big animation schools in Japan (though a few big universities just started some programs not too long ago). Plus, Japan is slowly suffering the same runaway production that the American animation industry went through decades ago.


I don't know about whole uniform high quality talent stuffs, but most of those qualities are not practical with TV animation production or other forms of production.

Yes, Japanese are really scrambling to get their talents. They are acutely aware of the situation. Even though there is that runaway production with South Korea, China, and SE Asia, there are people who are still willing to join the industry. Some people give up their well-paid corporate jobs become animators. Does it mean the Japanese animation industry will dry up its talent source? We don't know especially when young animation talents like Ryo-chimo, Akira Amemiya, and others popping from left and right. Let's not sign off until we see 80% non-Japanese names on an anime show we watch.

As matter of fact, JANICA (non-profit animator organization) has been hosting multiple workshops on perspective drawing and important visual art skills.
I heard of Yoyogi animation school and Tokyo Animation school, but I don't know how big they are.
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panzer.time



Joined: 25 Oct 2008
Posts: 65
Location: Hippie camp
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:45 pm Reply with quote
Thanks a lot for this interview! I certainly learned a lot. I'll be taking closer looks next time I watch something.
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Kimiko_0



Joined: 31 Aug 2008
Posts: 1786
Location: Leiden, NL, EU
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:09 pm Reply with quote
Well, I must be one of those insensitive heretics, because I don't see much distinguishing one video clip from the next. Sure, one seems more hectic and another smoother, but the content isn't all that different.
Maybe I just look at anime on a different level. Characters (design and personality) and story are more important than what seem to be minor details of how something in the background moves at 14:23 of episode 3.

Ah well. I guess it's one of those things some rave about while others go 'meh'. Like all art.
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Leedar



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 8
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:32 pm Reply with quote
Here is a decent sequence to illustrate the different effect one animator gives to the next, from many of the most well known Japanese animators.

Ghost in the Shell 2 climax (spoiler)

Don't you think the sequence would have a considerably different aesthetic, even meaning, if Hiroyuki Okiura (the last animator) did the opening part, and Shinji Hashimoto did the end?

Edit: Fixed link.


Last edited by Leedar on Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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marzipan.dragon



Joined: 18 Jul 2008
Posts: 70
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:40 am Reply with quote
Thank you - I appreciate the clips and found a lot to compare and consider. I hope to see more interviews like this one!
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cj256



Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 2
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:04 am Reply with quote
Kimiko_0 wrote:
Well, I must be one of those insensitive heretics, because I don't see much distinguishing one video clip from the next. Sure, one seems more hectic and another smoother, but the content isn't all that different.
Maybe I just look at anime on a different level. Characters (design and personality) and story are more important than what seem to be minor details of how something in the background moves at 14:23 of episode 3.

Ah well. I guess it's one of those things some rave about while others go 'meh'. Like all art.


Animators are the actors of the animation world, along with voice actors. You might not be able to watch a clip and marvel at the animation, but a good animator will make the funny scenes funnier, the sad scenes sadder, the action scenes more actiony, and you'll find yourself forgetting that you're watching 2d drawings move across the screen.
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reanimator





PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:26 am Reply with quote
Kimiko_0 wrote:
Well, I must be one of those insensitive heretics, because I don't see much distinguishing one video clip from the next. Sure, one seems more hectic and another smoother, but the content isn't all that different.
Ah well. I guess it's one of those things some rave about while others go 'meh'. Like all art.


No, you're just about the same as rest of anime viewing population. Most audience don't notice subtle difference between one animation style from the next. That's normal. In Anime, Japanese put importance on voice acting so that viewing audience focus more on sounds than "flawed" visual elements. Plus subtitle viewing fans, which I assume you as well, divert their attention on the bottom of screen so they tend to miss out interesting animation sequence.

Kimiko, you're already noticing difference between those animation clips by one being smooth and other being hectic.
However, you're still getting influenced by visual element of character designs. Are they that important? It depends. Here's some unpleasant things about character designs, especially the anime/manga style: One day they are hot, next day they're duds.

Kimiko_0 wrote:
Maybe I just look at anime on a different level. Characters (design and personality) and story are more important than what seem to be minor details of how something in the background moves at 14:23 of episode 3.


In that case, you're missing out an interesting side of films and animations. I know the story is very, very important, but you're downplaying importance of minor details. Details are somewhat important because it both compliments and enhances the story. Let's take a look at "Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GoGo" fight sequence between our heroines and ball-shaped monster for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16p7iu0vunc

If animators decided not to animate details like flying debris and smokes, the fight sequence won't look serious, right? If heroines didn't shake while trying not to get squash between the monster's palms, you wouldn't feel their struggle. It'll look like our heroines are fighting a giant toy rather a monster that was meant destroy them.

People like me fell love anime because it is able to portray graphic, but important details that compliments the story. You said that character designs and personality are important. Guess what? You're putting emphasis on design's graphic details which anime is known for, and personality is from detailed design of character's behaviors and habits. So let's not dismiss minor things some people notice.
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bglassbrook



Joined: 29 Aug 2006
Posts: 1223
Location: Gaithersburg, MD
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:38 am Reply with quote
Apparently it has been too long since watching Kuromi, because I just did not get it.
reanimator wrote:
Most audience don't notice subtle difference between one animation style from the next.

Then please take a crack at answering Casey's (mostly-implied) question: In a simple, clear, plain-english statement, what is your point as to the differences? It felt like everytime she asked for better understanding, the two animators went off on a disccusion of the artistic underpinnings.

Was everything said just a polite way of conveying that the key animators are more seasoned, and better at envisioning/drawing the flow of motion. However, in-betweeners are just street urchins who couldn't outrun the nets used when collecting helpers to finish by deadline. Thus, more key-frames generally equals smoother (or otherwise more expressive) animation, while having more work done in the lower pay grades is reflected in the final product?
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dizzcity



Joined: 05 Apr 2005
Posts: 8
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:17 am Reply with quote
I'm one of those who were puzzled by the intricacies of animation myself, but I think I'm starting to grasp some aspects of it. Hopefully this explanation makes some sense.

I think I understand the keyframe usage differences between Kanada and Inoue, for example. If you look at the explosions in the Kanada video, there's a lot of preparation time before the explosion, then a sudden jerk or pop in a different direction. This tends to add tension to the movement... like a spring coiling and then suddenly being released. This applies to all of his explosions, including the lasers and even the movement of the characters. So this implies that there are some strong key frames before the explosion with very short distances in-between them, then a radical snap to a different keyframe at the point of explosion. For example, if you study the seconds 0:22 - 0:23 frame-by-frame in the video, you see a radical jump from a keyframe which shows a slowly-growing ball of fire to a huge explosion that covers the screen one frame later. The same technique also applies to character animation in 0:30 - 0:33 of the video. And there's very little time spent on follow-through motion after the explosion, which is why it seems so jerky and hectic.

Whereas if you look at the "standard" professional Inoue's style, the animation is smooth-flowing and less jerky. There's not so much of a pause before the action/explosion, and there's more time to notice the follow-through after the action. This means that the keyframes are spread out evenly across the same period of time, rather than bunched up together here and there. You don't get the same sense of jerkiness from Inoue's style because he uses more in-betweens and doesn't radically shift you from keyframe to keyframe in a millisecond. Consider the explosions in 0:57 - 1:04... they're much smoother compared to Kanada's style, and there's no really distinctive moment where you can say "the explosion happened... waitforit... now!"

Ohira too follows the same fluid animation style, in that the keyframes are more regular, but his character animations and postures are just weirder compared to Inoue's or Kanada's. Okay, compare the TRC sequence of his video, when Syaoran and Sakura are running away from a flood and trying to climb a cliff. If you look at the small figures from 1:04 - 1:07 and study them frame-by-frame, you see that in most cases they're distorted and elongated (even beyond CLAMP's usual style). Or the fight sequence, or the skateboard sequence, not to mention the weird dancing old man. All of them show frames where the character is distorted or elongated, compared to how they normally look.

-Dizzy-
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mad_yeti



Joined: 28 Mar 2008
Posts: 15
Location: Seattle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 5:10 am Reply with quote
This was awesome. I'm an aspiring animator myself so this was extra meaningful. There's always been particular moments in anime that stick out in my memory for their distinct looks, the way animators 'twist' shapes in a certain shape and rate, and they'll often remind me of such and such a scene in another show... It's great being able to associate some of those styles with actual people!

Thanks in particular for the youtube references. I never made the conscious connection between the bit in FLCL and the one with Chihiro in Spirited Away, but as soon as I saw them together it just clicked in a magically beautiful 'OH! of course!' moment. Really excellent - I'll have to check out Anipages.
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Kimiko_0



Joined: 31 Aug 2008
Posts: 1786
Location: Leiden, NL, EU
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:03 am Reply with quote
reanimator wrote:
So let's not dismiss minor things some people notice.

Sorry. I didn't mean to dismiss the details as unimportant altogether. Different people just place emphasis on different aspects of anime.
And you're right that the details of movement also are part of a character's personality.

bglassbrook wrote:
Then please take a crack at answering Casey's (mostly-implied) question: In a simple, clear, plain-english statement, what is your point as to the differences? It felt like everytime she asked for better understanding, the two animators went off on a disccusion of the artistic underpinnings.

Yes, I got that impression as well. It's like they were all "you just have to feel it to understand it" and I was like "huh? feel what exactly?".
Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit of course. I do understand how keyframes work and how they influence the end result of what you see happening on screen. It's just that I don't want to dwell on such small details as long as they're done decently. I'll probably notice them anyway for a few days now Confused

Those of you who do get it, which do you prefer, Inoue's smooth fluid movement style or Kanada's jumping all over the screen in spurts and stops? The latter would make for a rather tiringly intense anime if used all the time I think. FLCL was like that.
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