Japanese Government Hopes Drawing Software Standard Bolsters Anime Production

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

In order to improve the poor working conditions in the anime industry, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is implementing an industry standard for drawing software. METI hopes to reduce reliance on foreign animators from China and Korea, and protect the continued productivity of the industry.

METI held an "Anime Digital Production Introduction Guide Information Meeting" at its Tokyo headquarters with about 100 representatives from the anime industry on February 20. The meeting presented information on how major production companies have utilized technology thus far, and confirmed the unification of five main production software data standards that animators use. A final report was submitted to METI at the end of February, determining the industry standard.

In the traditional analog method of animation, key animators create key frames collected into paper file folders and pass the files on to in-betweeners, who create the necessary frames to fill in between key frames to create the appearance of smooth motion. (A 30-minute video typically requires about 8,000 in-between frames.) Then the in-betweeners add their drawings into files and send them back to directors. By unifying data standards that differed depending on animation software, METI hopes animators can pass information through computers and improve the efficiency of production.

As for the actual, agreed upon standards for animation production software; that information is still unknown as is the number of studios that will implement the standards.

METI also recognized that proceeds from anime do not necessarily make it back into the hands of animators with the current system. METI acknowledged that animators are focused on quality, but it also believes the industry needs to support efficiency and become more profitable.

Advances in the industry have led some anime studios, such as Polygon Pictures, to embrace technological and other forms of progress. However, some members of the anime industry remain skeptical that AI and CGI can save the industry because it can potentially put animators out of work.

Due to the widely known poor working conditions among animators and studios' financial struggles, industry members have begun to propose more alternatives to current systems that could revolutionize the making of anime. Many people see the production committee system as a key source of the industry's issues. Yaoyorozu's Yoshitada Fukuhara, who served as producer for the studio's Kemono Friends anime, conducted a presentation earlier this month that proposed a solution. Fukuhara believes a new partnership system could help restore power to anime studios, leading to overall improvement in the industry's success.

Source: Sankei Biz (Katsutoshi Takagi)

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