Production Update 196: Animation Test 3

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday break! My holiday break was much needed. It offered me a nice chance to unplug for a bit and get away from the computer. I spent some time over the break doing some reading and playing some new board and card games which I always enjoy. After several attempts, my family and I were able to complete Oregon Trail and we even got in a good game of Walking Dead Risk, which saw so many zombies take over that we had to use colored trucks that come with the game to make up all of the zombies because we ran out of game pieces.

I scored some goodies for Christmas, some new anime and manga. On the anime front I got some new movies and series like Death Parade, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Coppellion. I got two more volumes of Bakuman, which I need to complete the series. I have a few more volumes I need to get as well. I even got the Archer art book too, which offers a lot of information on the history and process of the show. But enough about the holidays, let’s dive into the first production update of 2017!

I wrapped up my final animation test this past week. I spent some time experimenting around with a new plug in for After Effects called Paint and Stick. It offers the artist the ability to draw frame by frame within After Effects. I loved the idea of that, since I work with the program daily but I didn’t like the brush set within it. On the surface, it doesn’t appear that ┬áhave full control over the brush like I would have with Photoshop. I can do a lot of the other things in Paint and Stick as I can do within Photoshop, such as creating various layers, coloring and more. However, part of my hesitation to fully commit to Paint and Stick, is the unknown of future updates and workflows. So with this in mind, I am going to do my in depth animation tests using the Anim Dessn extension for Photoshop. I will post these up when I get them done. I am going to start tonight on my first test, and working with some lip syncing tools to get more mouth movements for the characters.

On a similar note, as much as I love my Wacom Intros tablet, it was time for me to upgrade. I ordered up a Cintiq this past week so I have more control over my drawings in the second episode and also for frame-by-frame drawing. I am very excited to get started with this new tool. I will use this on one of the other animation tests I will be working on in January.

Finally, I also have been doing a bit of reading this past week too. I recently ordered a book called Independent Animation by Ben Mitchell. It covers a wide range of elements in independent animation, ranging from music videos, collaboration, funding and more. I am about 25% done with the book. I have really been enjoying it so far and it’s quite nice to hear another perspective on the independent animation scene. I will be offering up a full review once I get it completely read.

Thank you for your continued support!

Recent Viewing: Tokyo Godfathers

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q6mcx2qF4Q&w=420&h=315]

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.