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Directors Shinji Aramaki & Kenji Kamiyama Explain Animation Techniques in Ultraman Anime

posted on by Rai Kelly
2019 anime series created entirely with motion capture

It's no secret that 3D animation in Japan has its detractors among anime fans. Despite this, more CGI anime have been released recently, and the upcoming Ultraman anime, set to launch in 2019, is going to be entirely in 3D animation.

However, directors Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki are using a different approach when it comes to the anime's actual animation. They are using motion capture to create the CGI, but the anime is not filmed shot by shot. The studio decided to film the entire anime in motion capture. At AnimeNext in Atlantic City, Kamiyama and Aramaki showed footage of how the anime's actors wear motion capture suits during stunts and fight scenes. They also wear them during drama scenes, where the characters talk or use simple movements.

The directors explained that this makes the characters' movement more natural. Using the motion capture technique, the initial scenes are recorded in Motion Builder. Then, they are transferred to the animation program Maya, where the animators add more details, subtle movements, textures, and other finishing touches. Professional voice actors (who are different from the stunt actors) act out the script, and their voices are then incorporated into the animation.

But besides having an uncommon animation style, something else is unique about the anime: having two directors at the same time. At their panels, Kamiyama and Aramaki explained that having two directors is rare in Japan. Usually, there is a hierarchy in anime studios, where the higher-up director has more of an administrative role and the lower director does more hands-on work in the studio. It's unusual for two directors to be working together. In fact, Aramaki and Kamiyama have worked together before on other projects and met over 30 years ago, making the situation even more uncommon.

The CGI Ultraman adaption is set to launch in Japan next year. The series adapts Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi's Ultraman manga. Both directors are working on the anime at Production I.G and Sola Digital Arts.

Viz Media publishes the Ultraman manga in North America, and it describes the story:

Decades ago, a being known as the Giant of Light joined Shin Hayata of the Scientific Special Search Party to save Earth from an invasion of terrifying monsters known as Kaiju. Now, many years later, those dark days are fading into memory, and the world is at peace. But in the shadows a new threat is growing, a danger that can only be faced by a new kind of hero - a new kind of Ultraman...

Shinjiro is an ordinary teenager, but his father is the legendary Shin Hayata. When he learns that his father passed on the "Ultraman Factor" to him, and that he possesses incredible powers, nothing will ever be the same again.

The Linebarrels of Iron team launched their series based on Tsuburaya Production's most famous live-action special-effects hero in Monthly Hero's magazine in 2011.

Kamiyama directed the film The Napping Princess, which was released in 2017, and Aramaki directed Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars, which was also released in 2017.

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