Production Update 116 Let’s Get Started!

I hope everyone had a good holiday break, got to spend some time with family and also got all the Christmas goodies you asked for! Personally, I enjoyed some time with some family but we didn’t celebrate Christmas yet, since we are waiting for my sister to travel up here to actually open gifts and such. I did get some good stuff I ordered from RightStuf to tide me over; titles such as Persona 4 and Blast of Tempest. At some point in 2015 I will be able to provide reviews of them. Let’s get down to business though.

I have reached the halfway point of the online animation class I have been taking, it is a 6 week intensive with lots of homework but I can see the course already paying off and I know it will be fine tuned from work and also on the Cosmic Rage project. I did finish up framing the remaining shots for the current scene I am starting. The next step is an animatic, which I aim to get done before next week’s production update. This will depend on the homework assignments through the week and also some travel time, but I feel I should be able to get this completed since I have the compositions laid out and also have the assets pieced together, leaving me with laying some keyframes down this week for timing purposes.

Next time I post it will be 2015!

Production Update 89

Production Update time is here again. This week I was able to finish up the 3 shots I was doing pre-work on last week. Here is a piece of production art from this weeks batch.

Match Faceoff

I did have a render issue with one of the shots that I discovered early in the week so I had to re-render that over the course of the week. It was a simple matter of adjusting the anti-aliasing. When you have the setting too low on certain materials it looks “noisy” or pixels will look like they are flickering between frames.

I also received some new audio files from my sound partner, Looking forward to compiling a few shots and getting them added into the test story file. Speaking of test story file, I was experimenting with some animation for the type and have found that none of the available solutions are working the way I want. I might look into coding something that will work the way I need it to. I need to talk to someone more experienced in the code department to see if it is something I can make or if it is too complex. Should be fun!

I will be starting the first shots of the actual fight scene soon too. I might dabble in that area this week but I have also started prepping some things for the next scene, which means 3D models and things like that. The reason for this, is that I can get 3D files rendering at night while I sleep and after work I can work on the fight scenes since the environment is already created.

A couple quick side notes. I applied for my first artist alley and panels at a con this fall. I should know soon if I will be accepted and I am very excited for the potential opportunity to share my work and hopefully help aspiring artists. I also have everything in order for the first animation meet up in my city in a couple weeks. Very excited to meet other local artists and can’t wait to share animation tips, software, etc with all of them. Just some of the behind the scenes stuff going on!


Production Update 71

Time for the post-holiday Production Update! I got my freelance work all wrapped up this week and got back on track for Cosmic Rage. Post-holiday, I was able to wrap up texturing on the scene and I was also able to start working on lighting of the scene too.

As promised here is an updated image on how the scene is developing.

production arena0500

This week, I am going to tweak some of the lighting and finish it up and hopefully get a rough render pass set up too. This way I will be able to make sure I have everything set up for a final render of the scene.

Later this week I will get the post up about character design that I wanted to get up this week, however I had a family emergency this week and pushed it back for this week. Stay tuned for more and I hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

Recent Viewing: Tsuritama

When I was traveling in Japan last summer, I came a cross an advertisement for the show Tsuritama. The cardboard characters, with fishing gear in hand, were the first fishing characters I really recalled. Of course there was characters in shows, but not a show entirely about fishing. So I put the show on my radar and Sentai Filmworks released it in the US. It took me some time to get around to watching all 13 episodes, but I made it through the show. Check out the trailer and review below.


First off, I must admit that when I was growing up I fished a ton, almost every day in the summer since I lived about a half mile from the river in the city I would ride my bike and take my fishing pole and gear. So I was really interested in seeing a fishing series and had to watch it.


(*cut out advertisement in Japan)

The premise of Tsuritama centers around Yuki, a new student at Enoshima and an alien friend he makes named Haru. The first half of the series focuses on character development (like most shows, of course), but Yuki also starts to develop his fishing skills. The show follows a little bit of a formula in which one of the characters doesn’t know much of a certain topic, in this case fishing, so the audience learns some things with the character.

The later half of the series (which runs 13 episodes) fleshes out the underlying plot of the story. Overall I felt the series was a fun and entertaining series. Nothing groundbreaking, I can’t imagine anyone calling this a must-watch series, but if you want a unique title, give Tsuritama a shot. The education of fishing throughout the series isn’t super realistic or too advanced that it could be a turn off.

The music for Tsuritama is light hearted and fun, it matches the art style of the show. The backgrounds are a little untraditional. Most anime backgrounds are designed to look traditionally painted, with brushstrokes and all, or more recently, 3D backgrounds. Tsuritama employs backgrounds that appear as if they are cel shaded, so the same style as the characters are typically done. It was a unique style that I haven’t really seen before, so I enjoyed it very much.

If you are an Evangelion fan, the voice actresses of Asuka and Misato are used for a couple characters in Tsuritama. I always enjoy hearing familiar voices and trying to trace who they are. There is even a cute animal sidekick in the show, Tapioca the duck.

Here is a little more on Tsuritama from Anime News Network.

Recent Viewing: Tokyo Godfathers


This week I sat down and enjoyed another Satoshi Kon title I previously haven’t seen, Tokyo Godfathers. As I find true with other Kon titles, this movie doesn’t disappoint. In an interview in the extras, Satoshi Kon said that anime is more than just cute girls. He also said, and this is probably why I love his work so much, that more artists need to come forward with their unique stories. In an interview, he was questioned about the film starring homeless characters, which seems to have no target audience for marketing.

Synopsis- On Christmas Eve, 3 homeless friends with a rather love/hate relationship discover a baby abandoned in the garbage. The cast of characters includes; Gin, a middle-aged man, Miyuki, a high school run away and Hana, a drag queen. After a brief debate, the group decides they are going to keep the baby with them for the night and take it to the police the next morning. The next morning a series of events delays their trip to the police station. Over the course of the next several days each of the characters are confronted with the reality of their situation and get a chance to make up for previous mistakes to a certain extent while learning even more about their own inner being.

Review- Tokyo Godfathers had a great amount of fans when it first came out in 2003 and to this day it deserves every ounce of the praise. The film has a very unique perspective, as we are following homeless people during the holidays. This is very much a Christmas movie, Christmas decorations through the environments and music play throughout the film. The holiday and homeless characters really set up a scenario where you are almost instantly sympathetic for the characters, and as the story progresses you hear each characters scenario of how they ended up homeless.

*POTENTIAL SPOILER* Some of the stories the characters portray as events that lead to there homelessness are fabricated. As more events unfold, it starts to strip away the defensive facade of the characters and they open themselves up as to the true reason why they are on the streets. Their humanistic flaws that took them down a path they didn’t envision for themselves.

Tokyo Godfathers is officially added to the films I am going to watch every holiday season. It fits into that Christmas miracle film class with a nice side of comedy that doesn’t feel forced, it’s actually a really nice complement.

Overall the film comes together nicely and doesn’t have anything that seems out of place that takes the rest of the film down, like bad music or CGI for instance. This film is a true example of character development. Seeing the characters evolve over the films 90 minutes is truly a work of art.

Production Quality- Tokyo Godfathers was animated by the well-known Studio Mad House. In the opening of the film we see several night time shots of Tokyo and the environments are beautiful. The characters relationships with each other result in some very well exaggerated reaction shots from characters as they argue with each other. Overall a very well balanced approach to the Christmas miracle story with some great comedy.

Since Tokyo Godfathers was an early 2000’s film it does have it’s experimental CGI. There are sequences in the last half of the film that have CGI backgrounds, but they are mostly assigned to the shots of character chases. The CGI is much better than other examples of the period.

Having praised the CGI in the film, there are layer 2D shots that really feel wide and expansive. There is one shot in particular where the camera pans down from the sky to the street level in a park, and the depth of the surrounding trees and skyscrapers is amazing.

Music- A nice holiday sound track with some really festive tracks and some also quirky tracks to fit the film during the comedic scenes.

Dub Quality- I watched the subtitled version.

Extras- There are some trailers on as well as a “Making Of” chapter that lasts just under 25 minutes, most likely a special aired on TV in Japan to get viewers to the theater. It covers interviewing the voice actors, animation production, music composition and also an interview with Satoshi Kon. I enjoy specials like these, as it gives you an in depth look as to how it was made and you can also hear from the crew and their experiences. I wish more DVDs and series had these included, but know not all have them made.

Recent Viewing: Someday’s Dreamers

Over the last two weeks I watched Someday’s Dreamers. Someday’s Dreamers is a property released by Sentai Filmworks, and the series was animated by JC staff and Viewworks in 2003. I decided to watch the series, based off of last week’s post, about animation in real life. In Someday’s Dreamers, they use several known areas such as Shibuya Crossing and also the Tokyo Tower.

The story focused around a girl who was going to begin an apprenticeship to become a certified mage. Its a pretty short series, only lasting 12 episodes, there is a second season/storyline that I didn’t view at this time.

The story itself isn’t anything revolutionary nor do I feel that it has much replay value as well. It is a short series with not a whole lot of character development. There are really only 4 or 5 characters in the series and really only two characters show depth at the conclusion of the 12 episodes.

From a production standpoint, Someday’s Dreamers falls into the years of growing experimentation in CGI in anime, early 2000’s. At this time, CGI was used mostly for environments, effects and sometimes robot characters, which move rather awkwardly and stiff. The characters are all hand drawn with environments being painted as well. The use of 3D is used in 2 major areas, the starting of the series and the final couple episodes.

In the first episode the cars in the Shibuya Crossing are 3D, at this stage its pretty obvious they are b/c of their robotic movement in the way they are controlled by the character Yume. We see 3D again towards the end of the series when one of the mages loses control of their power and twists the Tokyo Tower. In my opinion, these are some of the best animated shots in the series.

Some of the characters magic effects also see the use of some CGI effects. One of the characters, when using magic, has a snowflake particle system that appears. When Yume uses a certain level of magic, their is a CGI dolphin that is rendered in a blue wireframe. The mages all have rings, so the mages can be tracked and monitored. With these rings, there are more effects that appear as if they are flat layers from a program like after effects and just rotated in 3D space to give them a skewed appearance.

I’d suggest Someday’s Dreamers if you are into magic series, or if you like viewing transitional 3D titles from the early to mid 2000’s or if you want to check out what I have been watching recently.


Recent Viewings- Inu Yasha the Final Act Part 1

During last weeks blizzard I was also able to get through the recent release of the final  act part 1 of Inu Yasha. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Inu Yasha, it started as a manga series by Rumiko Takahashi. It was so popular that an anime series was created as well. However, the production of the anime series eventually caught up to the manga and production ceased. Without an ending to the story, they couldn’t complete the series.

The manga eventually ended and production started up again to finish off the series. After several years we now have the first part of the ending to the epic series (it spans over 7 seasons). I recall buying season 7 when I was in college, so it has been a good 4 year gap in production at least, but, that is exactly what I want to write about.

Last week I wrote about the increased production value in a series called Initial D over the span of the four seasons that have been out so far and at the start of the CGI movement in Japan.

I won’t spoil anything in Inu Yasha so have no fear, I strictly want to discuss some of the interesting things I found in the production gap. First off, you will notice the brighter coloration of the characters. This is because the previous season of Inu Yasha were done with traditional cel style animation. If you seen some of my Japan pictures you can see that I actually picked up a few cels when I was in Japan. The reason for this brightness in the color is because the new season is digitally painted, and digitally painting and compositing allow you to reach colors that traditional cel animation and paints couldn’t. If you want to see a true range of effects you can reach with digital painting I would recommend RedLine.


To give you an idea of what the first season’s coloring looked like, here is the opening to the first season.


Here is a trailer for the Final Act part 1. As you can see the colors appear brighter than the previous opening. Also note the glows on some of the shots, lens flares and particle effect as well. There are even clips of 3D objects in the trailer that are used through out the series as well that weren’t in the first several seasons.


Inu Yasha also used more special effects for different dimensions, transitions between dimensions and even some character attacks. These added effects add an extra level of production quality. The effects look crisp and well polished. Some of the effects when done in previous seasons were simply background paintings, but by using CGI for these they can add very nice secondary effects.

If you want to really see how much CGI has evolved in not only Inu Yasha but anime in general, Adult Swim on cartoon network is actually showing the first season on Inu Yasha again and it is also showing Samurai 7 which was a transitional title between cel and digital. These two shows will give you an idea of what to look for before you watch Inu Yasha the Final Act part 1.To my knowledge the same voice actors dubbed this season too so there isn’t any new voices taking over for familiar faces.

I have continued to notice that backgrounds and special effects continue to dominate the use of CGI and not many characters are animated using CGI, they still remain hand drawn. I am very interested to see if this trend continues.

I have only been able to watch the season one time through so far, I usually try to enjoy the story the first time around and then in other viewings I really start to dissect things. I am sure this won’t be the last I mention this season and I look forward to seeing the second part of the final act next year.

Next week will bring another production update. Stay tuned, exciting things coming.

Japan Adventure Day 9

Today was our final day in japan with the group 🙁 I had a great time getting to know some fellow travelers and had so much fun over the previous week or so of adventure. The majority of the group was flying back to the States and a few of us were staying in Japan and going our separate ways.

For the last few days there was a handful of us talking about going to the fish market for sushi breakfast. Admittedly, some of us had too much fun at the beer garden so morning came a bit too soon but never-the-less a small group of 4 including myself made our way to the market.

We had options of breakfast sushi platters so i went with the variety platter that included, eel, salmon, sea urchin and many more. At the end of breakfast, our guide had suggested we try one more type of sushi. I am not sure what it was called but it was a slightly seared piece of fatty tuna. It was seriously the most delicious thing I had ever eaten, hands down. Nothing has ever come close to that.

After we made our way back to the hotel we waited for a few other travelers before we hit up a couple areas. In the meantime we wandered a nearby temple and took some interesting pictures.

Around lunchtime we made our way to a mall that I was itching to go to since I started planning my trip. The reason I wanted to go, was to score myself some anime cels. The mall we went to was 4 stories tall, and covered a lot of ground. As we got to higher floors we started finding nothing but toy stores. So naturally I bought some more gachapon figures.

While roaming around looking for the cel shop, we discovered a small art gallery that focused on Rurouni Kenshin, featuring cels, figures and more. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so I was only able to get one off the wall.

As I continued to look for the cel shop, I finally broke down and called the guide for directions. I was able to get a vicinity to the shop and I found several cels to my liking 🙂 My objectives of the trip were almost complete.

We decided to stop by in harajuku again and we showed a couple travelers where the Neon Genesis Evangelion store was at. To our surpass, they had a lot of new content in the store from when we were there a little over a week ago. I was eyeing an Asuka figure earlier in the trip but they were now all sold out. I picked up a couple more art books and we were on our way back to the hotel.

By this point the other travelers were nearing their departure time. We hung out and swapped information with some of the travelers and watched as they boarded the shuttle bus and headed to the nearest station. It was now just me and my friend in Tokyo and neither of us speaks japanese. We went out for some eats at a chain place called Yoshinoya, which has some awesome beef bowls and went to bed early that night. We had a long day with the short amount of sleep and tomorrow we were starting a new challenge, Mt Fuji. Stay Tuned!

*(First image is my variety sushi platter for breakfast, the second is of lanterns at the nearby shrine, third is the wall outside of the Kenshin gallery showing and the final image is one of thousands of glass cases filled with toys at the mall.)