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Belle, BEASTARS Show How the 3D Models Change Depending on the Angle

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Character modeler explains that using the same model in every shot results in an inconsistent look

An interview with the CG team of BELLE from July 2021 started trending on social media last week when CG animator Austin Hardwicke highlighted the facial blend shape and how the 3D model changes depending on the angle.

In the interview, character modeler Chiaki Watanabe explained that using the same model in every kind of shot results in an inconsistent look: "It was tricky to put [Takaaki Yamashita's] designs together into a three-dimensional shape and we had a hard time with that. When you add as much stereoscopic effect to the frontal face as you would to the side profile face you get too much shadow, and if have as much of the white of the eye showing in the mid-profile face as you would in side profile face, it does not look as pretty. In the end, we prepared frontal, mid-profile and side profile face models. They were then reflected into the face rig."

She also noted that the film features many shots that circle around the character, so they could not use shapes that looked "overly anime-esque." Character lead Suguru Satō added that certain features such as the freckles would break if her facial expression changed, so these needed to be built into the mesh. He said that they spent over two months on modeling her face alone.

After the BELLE images started trending, Orange (BEASTARS, Land of the Lustrous) posted its own process for BEASTARS, using the rabbit character of Haru as the example:

Orange's English Twitter account explained that the tool used for this process is called "automorph." Because changing a character's 3D model for every shot creates too much work for the animators, the studio uses a tool to automatically morph the model. However, in BEASTARS specifically, rabbits are the only characters that use automorph, because other characters such as wolf and deer have muzzles that contains deeper three-dimensional information.

BELLE opened in Japan on July 16. GKIDS began screening the film in English and in Japanese with English subtitles in the U.S. on January 14. Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, The Boy and The Beast, Mirai) directed and scripted the film, and is also credited for the original work. The film marks Studio Chizu's 10th anniversary. Digital Frontier created the CG world of U depicted in the film.

The first BEASTARS television anime debuted on Netflix in Japan and on Fuji TV's [+Ultra] programming block and on TV Nishinippon in October 2019. The season debuted on Netflix outside of Japan in March 2020. The anime's second season premiered in January and again aired in Japan on Fuji TV's [+Ultra] programming block. Netflix debuted the second season outside Japan on July 15.

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