Let's Sakuga: The Animation Discussion Thread (Probable Spoilers)

Discussion in 'The Anime Forum' started by Sarada, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Sakuga. A powerful word amongst a growing English-speaking fanbase dedicated to researching, cataloging, and gushing over their favorite animators and animation supervisors. What exactly is 'sakuga'? 作画 refers to the animation drawings of an animated work. This includes both 原画 (genga, the key animation drawings) and 動画 (douga, the in-between animation drawings). English-speaking internet users have adopted this term to act as a short hand for animation they find high-quality.

    [​IMG]
    Key animation by Tanaka Hironori. Source: Yes! PreCure 5 GoGo! episode #4

    [​IMG]
    Key animation by Tanaka Hironori. Source: Testuwan Birdy Decode: 02 episode #5

    Does anyone have any favorite animators? Have you ever wondered who did a big battle in a favorite series of yours? Yes? No? Maybe? Pants? Let's start with something modern and most likely to be known to casual fans.

    Terminology

    シリーズディレクター (shiriizu direkutaa) & 監督 (Kantoku)
    Series Director & Director
    The Series Director is in charge of overseeing the entire series. They attend every meeting, help plan the upcoming episodes, and attend voice recording sessions. The Series Director credit is most often used for Toei Animation works. Dragon Ball Z uses シリーズディレクター to describe the role played by Nishio Daisuke for episode #1-199 (there is no Series Director for #200-291). 'Kantoku' is used by most other studios to describe what is essentially the same role. For example, the Kantoku of Naruto Shippuuden is Date Hayato. 'Kantoku' is also used in film to describe the film's director. Translating 'Kantoku' is tricky. For television shows I simply use Series Director and for movies Film Director. It's descriptive and easy to understand.

    演出 (Enshutsu)
    Episode Director (TV) or Technical Director (movie)
    The 'Enshutsu' credit is another tricky credit to translate. For television the role is essentially that of an episode director. The Series Director cannot personally oversee each episode of a television series. Although Nishio Daisuke liked to personally direct and storyboard episodes of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z every chance he could the role of directing often went to another. While final say on any matter always goes to the Series Director an Episode Director more often then not was allowed to make an episode in his own vision. Most directors stick to a unified style to keep a series as consistent as possible, but every so often--especially for long-running shows--an episode director would be brought in to shake things up. Naruto Shippuuden Series Director Date Hayato is fond of allowing Tsuru Toshiyuki to write and direct important episodes of the series. Episode #85, which featured an important battle, used unique directing techniques, a higher number of drawings then usual, and many talented key animators. Wakabayashi Atsushi was brought on board to direct episode #167. Wakabayashi acted as an Animation Supervisor and Key Animator. Wakabayashi is perhaps the most experimental director the series has using undoubtedly the highest number of drawings any episode of Naruto has ever used for the climax of Naruto versus Pain.

    絵コンテ (Ekonte)
    Storyboard
    The Japanese term 'e-konte' is a combination of the kanji 絵 and the English phrase 'continuity board'. More often then not you will see the term translated as 'storyboard' to match generic English animation credits. The role of the storyboard varies from project to project, directors Peter Chung and Michael Arias discuss the intricacies of the role in further depth in this thread at the Anipages forum. Most Toei Animation titles rarely use the storyboard credit. Episode Directors are expected to draw their own storyboards, which act as the visual script of an episode or film. The use of a separate storyboard artist does occur when the episode director is strapped for time or otherwise a bad artist. Dragon Ball episode #130 is storyboard by Series Director Nishio Daisuke despite the enshutsu credit going to Hashimoto Mitsuo, for example. A storyboard credit will sometimes be given to a talented key animator. For the 2006 Naruto movie Matsumoto Norio provided the storyboard and key animation for a series of action cuts, essentially given free reign from Film Director and Writer Tsuru Toshiyuki.

    作画監督 (Sakuga Kantoku)
    Animation Supervisor
    The animation supervisor is the person who oversees, checks, and corrects the key animators' drawings. The changes can be for many reasons but are most often to bring the characters "on model" so that they more accurately reflect the original character designs. They often work closely with the Chief Animator and Chief Designer, but overall, the final look of the episode hinges on the artistic abilities of the animation supervisor.
    Note: You'll most often see this credit translated on other sites as an "Animation Director", but since they only oversee the key animation aspects I feel it is more appropriate to give them a title of supervisor which is also an accurate translation of kantoku.

    総作画監督 (Sou Sakuga Kantoku) & キャラクターデザイン (kyarakutaa dezain)
    Chief Animation Supervisor & Character Design
    In recent years the Chief Animation Supervisor credit has surfaced. Typically a Chief Animation Supervisor will be a series' Character Designer. For Kill la Kill the character designs are provided by Sushio. Sushio also acts as the Chief Animation Supervisor. The role essentially entails working with the Animation Supervisors for each episode to help them get a feel for staying on-model, should that be the desire. The Chief Animation Supervisor also acts as a second layer of quality control, checking episodes for bad drawings and approving good drawings. For Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z episodes #1-199 this role was called チーフアニメーター (Chief Animator). Chief Animator Maeda Minoru designed the characters and helped the Animation Supervisors grow more comfortable in the series' look. Naruto Shippuuden uses the Chief Animation Supervisor credit in a different manner. Episodes outsourced to Korean or Chinese studios receive a specific Chief Animation Supervisor to correct drawings already corrected by the Korean studio's Animation Supervisor. For Naruto Shippuuden episode #272 Abe Hiroki, Shin Min-sub, and Lee Boo-hee are credited as Animation Supervisors. Ukulele Zenjirou receives credit as a Chief Animation Supervisor, despite the Character Design credit for the series belonging to Suzuki Hirofumi.

    [Kana]
    Action Animation Supervisor & Mecha Animation Supervisor
    One of the earliest instances of the Action Animation Supervisor is perhaps the 2001 film Gekijouban Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira where Nakamura Yutaka was credited for the role due to his involvement both as a main key animator for the film, but also for helping design layouts for action scenes. The role isn't always a sign of smooth production, however. Samurai Flamenco has uses the credit, but due to the series' hasty production schedule this was to help rush the work out the door quicker. This applies to Mecha Animation Supervisor, as well, although in the case of a series like Sunrise's Gundam Build Fighters the role is assigned to veteran animators who specialize in making mecha move. Se Jun Kim and Oobari Masami are two popular names working on the aforementioned Sunrise series.

    原画 (Genga)
    Key Animation
    A genga animator or "key" animator draws the key images in a scene, using the character layouts as a guide. The genga animator draws enough of the images to get across the major points of the action in a specific scene. For example, in a sequence of a character jumping across a ravine, the genga animator may draw an image of the character as he is about to leap, two or more as the character is flying through the air, and a final image of the character landing on the other side of the ravine.

    動画 (Douga)
    In-Between Animation
    A douga animator or "in-between" animator draws the frames that are still missing in-between the genga animators' drawings. This provides a fluid motion of events in a scene. For example, based on the images drawn by the genga artist of a character jumping across a ravine, the douga artist has drawn additional images to make the character appear to have smoothly jumped across the ravine. [/QUOTE]

    Drawings

    In Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist episode #19 Roy lights Lust on fire and brutally burns her to death. That entire scene's key animation was provided by Kameda Yoshimichi. Kameda did both the key animation and in-between animation for that scene himself. Kameda is one of many young and rising stars in Japanese animation, quickly becoming a name amongst his peers. Kameda has even begun attending discussion panels with his well-known seniors in the industry and even held an informal YouTube stream himself recently. Episode #19 used about ten thousand drawings in total, no doubt plenty of those drawings going toward the cuts provided by Kameda. That's a lot of frames to draw, if you hadn't guessed.

    Just how many drawings does a single episode use, though? Due to limited time and finances, most episodes of Japanese animation are allowed between 3,000 and 4,000 drawings per episode. Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist episode #19 with its 10,000 drawings is an example of an above-average television episode. Asobi Machi has commented that most first episodes of a Bones series tend to use about 10,000 drawings. Studio Trigger's Little Witch Academia short film, with a budget of $400,000, used about 17,000 drawings across its 26 minute runtime.

    Numerous drawings isn't always a sign of great animation, however. Shin Seiki Evangelion episode #1 brought to life a strong atmosphere using only 700 cels. Angel Beats episode #1 has upwards of 11,000 drawings yet the quality of these drawings and their use was so poor the episode has a nasty reputation.

    Who is who?

    One might wonder "How does one tell which animator did which scene specifically?" Do as I do: hit up YouTube. Search for MADs or sakuga videos. There's a number of super-awesome dudes like AnimeBlue (BlueSakuga), Murad, and Yamaneaki123 who do regular AMVs dedicated to specific animators or even just for the awesome animation across all Japanese animated series' for the month. These are great ways to tell help learn the styles of current crack animators. One can even learn about older ones, too!

    Sakugabooru is a great resource for learning and sharing information about animators. Some message boards prohibit the linking of unofficially uploaded videos, even if the video is a small section of a film or television episode. Sakugabooru is merely for animated gifs and pictures making it a great way to share information and examples without breaking rules.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2014
  2. aegisrawks

    aegisrawks Active Member

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    Yay! I love Sakuga!
     
  3. ToonzaiFan2012

    ToonzaiFan2012 New Member

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    I love Sakuga! Sakuga is an awesome anime series.
     
  4. aegisrawks

    aegisrawks Active Member

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    Sakuga is a phenomenon. Its when usually limited animation pushes its boundaries and improves dramatically.
     
  5. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Well damn, folks. Gonna make me go out and try to inject some vitality into this thread are we? Already, here I go!

    So, this time around I'd like to bring attention to a favorite animator of mine, Hisada Kazuya from Dragon Ball fame.

    [video=youtube;_Y7Y0nlO-rs]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y7Y0nlO-rs[/video]
    Video originally created and uploaded by kei17.

    Hisada begun on Dragon Ball as an in-between animator on episodes (75, 83, 90, 94, 102, 108, 116, 122, 129, 136, 143, 150) animated by Seigasha under the stewardship of Take'uchi Tomekichi. When Dragon Ball Z came around, Hisada was officially promoted to key animator (4, 11, 19, 25, 31, 36, 40, 47, 54, 58, 63, 68, 76, 87, 93, 160, 166, 170, 175, 180, 187, 205, 211, 219, 225, 231, 268, 281, 287; SP1) where he would join Take'uchi and Shimanuki Mashiro as the powerhouses of the Seigasha episodes of Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT. Hisada also rose to the position of Animation Supervisor (98, 103, 109, 114, 119, 125, 130, 134, 140, 146, 150, 155, 231, 268, 281, 287) for Seigasha episodes as Take'uchi (who probably felt it was time for him to step down). you'll notice a few gaps. Hisada would trade on-and-off as Animation Supervisor with Shimanuki Mashiro (68, 76, 81, 87, 93, 160, 166, 170, 175, 180, 187, 205, 211, 219, 225) on Dragon Ball Z. By the time Dragon Ball GT came around Hisada was the Animation Supervisor for all of Seigasha's episodes (1, 10, 16, 22, 27, 33, 38, 44, 51, 57, 63).

    So, Hisada's pretty awesome, if you watched that video. His style is based (at least from twenty years ago) is based on Kanada Yoshinori, which is pretty damn awesome. Hisada's strongest technique is his use of camera angles and sharp turns. There's a lot of power, simply in the turning of a character's neck.

    One of my other favoirte attributes of Hisada's is that as the series progressed and Toriyama's art began to take on a more angular and toned look, Hisada managed to perfectly capture the bold look of the characters.making for detailed and manly-looking models.

    Also, dat Vegeta-in-the-gravity-room.

    It's a shame Hisada's so busy working as the character designer on One Piece. I don't think he's had the time to do any cool key animation for a long time. :(
     
  6. Cookiefication

    Cookiefication ¯\(º_o)/¯

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    Ooooh.... time to gush. :D

    My favorite animator would have to be Pokemon animation superisor and key animator Masaaki Iwane. He is, without a doubt, the best Pokemon animator. He's also the first animator I really learned to recognize.... He's a pretty big inspiration to me.

    Masaaki Iwane plays an extremely large part in his episodes. He has never had more than 3 key animators in any of his episodes as a single animation supervisor, and he is always one of them... He often does some episodes as the only key animator. Shoot, he even did his first episode, "Volcanic Panic!", as the only key animator! His episodes are consistently great... I have no idea how he does it. XD His style isn't mindblowing, but I love it.

    Before he worked on Pokemon, he also worked on the 1991 Fighbird series, the 1995 Goldran series, and DBZ (beginning with the Cell Arc). Check out his sakuga wiki page to see a list of what he's done.

    Here is a MAD/tribute video I made last year. It's mostly scenes from his later work in Pokemon (+ 1 DBZ fight :p)

    [video=dailymotion;xkqjn8]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xkqjn8_yyyy-masaaki-iwane-animator-tribute_creation[/video]

    Looking back, there are a lot of better clips I could have used. Maybe I'll make an updated version?


    Another one of my favorite animators is Naotoshi Shida. His animation is unbelievably fluid.

    Great stuff! I love watching sakuga videos.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2012
  7. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Oh wow, Iwane worked on Dragon Ball Z episodes 174, 179, 184, 191, 195, 201, 207, 226, 234, 239, 253, 266, 274, 279! Those were all the Masunaga Keisuke/Studio Cockpit episodes, so I guess that explains his talents.

    Damn, that's some great work. I didn't know OLM was employing such talented animators for the TV series.
     
  8. GWOtaku

    GWOtaku Moderator

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    Here's Ichiro Itano and the "missile massacre" he pioneered. This is a small piece of a long and awesome panel about Sakuga presented at Anime Central 2011, which I highly recommend having a look at. It's all online for posterity & I've made a playlist for it below.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA7B7935290D3805B

    This particular video includes highlights from Gundam and Space Runaway Ideon, and of course it leads off with some footage from The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?

    [video=youtube_share;NxHYf35rJa8]http://youtu.be/NxHYf35rJa8[/video]
     
  9. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Yeah, I love that panel. I hope more of these panels can happen so we can see this art brought more to the forefront in discussions about animation.

    Itano's stuff is great. I'm glad to see that Tomino was so receptive to helping to develop animation and not just story and writing.
     
  10. aegisrawks

    aegisrawks Active Member

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    I loooove Ichiro Itano. Especially after seen his awesome Itano Circus and MOST DEFINITELY after reading Gundam Sousei.
     
  11. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Tanaka Hironori

    Sakuga fan AnimeBlue/BlueSakuga uploaded a new Tanaka Hironori video yesterday!

    [video=youtube;QwMjauXbDrU]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwMjauXbDrU[/video]

    As you can see, Tanaka has really gotten around. Tate Naoki managed to recruit him for a nice cut for One Piece movie #9. The scene is wild. I'm not sure how Tanaka does it, but he manages to draw fluid key frames for some really difficult angles at quick speeds. His work on Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist also goes to show he has a strength in subtle animation. That shot of the soul grabbing at Marco is creepy as heck! o_O The cuts he does of Kimblee for episode #52 is also interesting. He manages to twirl the character around while moving the background. I wonder how hard that was for him and the background artist to coordinate?

    I'm also really surprised to see how much work he has done for the Pretty Cure franchise. I guess Toei really wants to attract those animation Otaku to help boost sales.

    Anyway, I've got another animator I want to try to get around talking about. Hopefully I can find the time! :p
     
  12. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

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    This guys resume is pretty nice with him making contributions to the big Shonen three, and FMA. He even got a scene in Kids on the Slope.

    O-chan
     
  13. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Take'uchi Hiroshi

    The baddest Dragon Ball AMV maker in da East has returned recently with a new MAD centered on Studio Live's Take'uchi Hiroshi.

    [video=youtube;32aPIyIiKc8]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32aPIyIiKc8[/video]

    Take’uchi Hiroshi’s stint on Dragon Ball was few and far between. Initially an in-between animator on episodes outsourced to Studio Live, Take’uchi became a key animator during the Heavenly Training arc of the 1986 Dragon Ball series and began to develop his own unique style. His trademark tell tends to be how he draws the folds of the characters’ clothes around the shoulders. While it does seem a little ‘coat hanger-y’, I personally feel it gives the characters a sense of bold, strong figure.

    Take’uchi is also one of the more fluid key animators for Studio Live. Prime examples of this is in his work on Son Gokuu dodging the giant-sized Ma Junior’s attacks in Dragon Ball episode #145 and Gokuu’s fight with Ginger, Nikki, and Sansho in Dragon Ball Z: Ora no Gohan o Kaese!!

    動画/Douga/In-between Animation:
    Dragon Ball: 5, 12, 18, 25, 39, 45
    Movie: DB: 1

    原画/Genga/Key Animation:
    Dragon Ball: 124, 131, 138, 145, 152
    Dragon Ball Z: 6, 13, 20, 282
    Movie: DBZ: 1
     
  14. O-chan

    O-chan Active Member

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    So question, are we talking about special animators or are we covering animation directors as well? If we are there are a few I would like to cite (mostly cut n' paste my commentary I made on the One Piece animation directors from AP while added updated viewpoints)?

    O-chan
     
  15. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Trail mix it, baby. I don't always plan to focus on good/great supervisors or animators, so if you feel confident in whatever info you have on any staffer you want to share go nuts. Animation Supervisors are a big part of animation too, after all.
     
  16. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Aoshima Kasumi (Dragon Ball Z #30)

    Aoshima Katsumi was a freelance animator brought onto Dragon Ball during the original 1986 series. In addition to acting as animation supervisor for his episodes, Aoshima also acted as the sole key animator for many of his episodes. By the time Dragon Ball had entered its later stages—and by the time Dragon Ball Z had come around—Aoshima was joined by a second key animator.

    Aoshima left the TV series rotation with his most famous work, Dragon Ball Z episode #30, the first part of Son Gokuu’s first battle with Vegeta. Aoshima returned for Dragon Ball Z movies #3-5, but left the franchise for good afterwards.

    原画/Genga/Key Animation:
    Dragon Ball: 8, 14, 21, 28, 35, 51, 59, 66, 73, 100, 107, 117, 126, 133, 141, 148
    Dragon Ball Z: 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
    Movie: DB: 1, 2, 3; DBZ: 3, 4, 5

    作画監督/Sakuga Kantoku/Animation Supervisor:
    Dragon Ball: 14, 21, 28, 35, 51, 59, 66, 73, 100, 107, 117, 126, 133, 141, 148
    Dragon Ball Z: 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

    [video=youtube;AFitHnYVknk]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFitHnYVknk[/video]

    Aoshima's crowning jewel and the work most of people remember him for. While I'm not entirely sure this is all of Aoshima's key animation (沖本日出子/Okimoto Hideko was also a key animator on episode #30), it does show his ability to really bring Toriyama's art during this era to life. There's a little bit extra shading on the characters, done in a pencil-esque style that gives it a lead-scratchings-esque look. Even still, the characters move fluidly. In-between animation was done by Douga Kobo...

    動画 : 動画工房
    In-Between Animation : Douga Kobo
    芝脇峰人 Shibawaki Houjin
    大塚岩夫 Ootsuka Iwao
    持田 剛 Mochida Takeshi
    小森隆之 Komori Takayuki
    西岡 茂 Nishioka Shigeru
    小松崎繁 Komatsuzaki Shigeru
    中山久司 Nakayama Hisashi
    市木 泉 Ichiki Izumi

    Eight in-betweeners helped in the making of this episode. Their efforts were truly well spent.

    While making the above clip I noticed that their was a lot of Michael Bay-esque camera movements as the camera circled around the characters. It's pretty funny, actually. :p
     
  17. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Came across a great set of articles today. First off, AniPages has an interview with up-and-coming animator Bahi JD, an twenty-one year old Austrian animator who began animating only a few years ago as a animation .gif artist on the AniPages forums and has already become a professional animator. Bahi was involved in the SkullGirls and Sakamichi no Apollon episode #7. It's an incredible read and provides both inspiration and insight into the animation industry.

    Through that article, I came across Cindy Yamauchi's blog where she has a set of articles on being a key animator, an animation supervisor, and a Chief Animation Supervisor. Incredible stuff.
     
  18. aegisrawks

    aegisrawks Active Member

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    Awesome Thanks for sharing Jacob!
     
  19. GWOtaku

    GWOtaku Moderator

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  20. Sarada

    Sarada Active Member

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    Ah, yes, read that yesterday. It's a great way to help tell some of the different animators and animation supervisors a part. It makes me want to watch AnimeBlue's Yamashita Hiroyuki MAD all over again. :p
     

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