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.

 

Production Update 28

I had a full week of freelance work as well as some traveling for work and working on a few other freelance loose ends and computer upgrades. To be honest I didn’t get a whole lot done this week. With my traveling I didn’t have my second monitor or a desk to really work at so I didn’t do much on the trailer besides a small compositing test.

I was able to get a couple drawings completed from Episode 2. I find that I am able to get more drawing done when I travel for my work because I am more flexible with my drawing environment and don’t require dual monitors or a desk. I actually prefer drawing on the floor.

This week I took my laptop in a couple times to get upgrades as well. The first time I dropped it off, they didn’t have the RAM I was going to have put in so I basically lost a few hours Tuesday night. I did get the RAM put in on Friday night.

I also rendered out the previous work I had done to see where I stood on that. This week I should have a little bit more time to get back on top of the trailer and work on some other aspects as well. Thursday will bring another recent viewing, stay tuned!

Animating Real Life

I was watching Penguindrum last week while working on some artwork and jokingly sending texts to a friend. I was in episode 9 and the episode started with the characters arriving in Ikebukuro. My friend that I was texting was the one that traveled to Japan with me. The reason I texted him, was because after the characters were revealed to be in Ikebukuro they were at an aquarium.

This past summer when we traveled to Japan, we also visited an aquarium in Ikebukuro. This immediately got me sending him texts about how funny it would be if that was the aquarium we were at. Well, it turns out it was.

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Here is the subway signs that Penguindrum uses to let viewers know what area of Tokyo the characters are in.

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This was a sign of the aquarium that I took a picture of on our trip. Notice the logo on the top of the poster.
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Does that logo from the above poster look familiar?IMG_1937

Here are the penguins that we saw at the aquarium.
Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 3.10.43 PMThis is what the rest of the penguin area looked like, wooded pathways and a glass facade so you can see the penguins swimming.

Now you may be thinking big deal, but let me proceed with my point from an artist stand point. As artists we typically use reference material for characters, environments and objects. It is virtually impossible for anyone to have intimate knowledge of every item to be able to draw it convincingly all the time. For instance if you had to draw a desktop or car or house from memory, chances are you could but to take those areas to the next level is to make it look like someone uses the desk, the car and lives in the house.

If you were to draw a living area of a house, you could draw the couch, tv, tables, maybe some magazines on the table and a ceiling fan. But when you compare scenes and items that you draw from memory with ones in real life, you will notice all kinds of things that you may have missed. Maybe there is a child’s toy on the floor in the living area. Did you draw a tv remote or a coffee cup on the table? A book? There is so many little things in areas that reference material is needed for artists.

While I was in Japan, our guide told us about an area (that I can’t recall) that was the setting of a manga series, and that this area drew thousands of visitors each year just because of that. I want to say it was a school… I’ll have to look into this. But this is part of the appeal of basing series off of an actual location.

Another film that comes to mind is My Neighbor Totoro from Studio Ghibli. That film is based on locations in the countryside of Japan. On dvd extras it is revealed that other films such as Ponyo and Spirited Away are also. It is through research that these rich worlds are created and it my opinion actual locations help connect with viewers as well.

Production Update 27

My freelance work this week got pushed back a week, so I had some free time to work on some personal projects in between wrapping up some loose ends. I got a lot of work in on a side project, I am continuing to push closer into getting that project wrapped up. I have two more bigger hurdles left and we should be good to go.

Now onto the Cosmic Rage front. Over the past week I made it my goal to complete a page of shading and highlighting each day and if you follow the facebook page I posted that challenge throughout the week. Well, I can happily report that all of the artwork for Cosmic Rage episode 1 is completed. Granted there may be some work that springs up during the animation process, scenes needing to be redrawn or something but per storyboard the work is all done.

Up next is continued work on the trailer. With the week developing the way it did, I decided to clamp down and finish up the artwork and then jump to the trailer this week in between freelance projects. With some of my freelance work requiring me to travel, there will also be progress made on drawings for episode 2. When traveling I mostly just operate on my laptop, which is fine for getting some work done, but when working in multiple programs and such, working without 2 monitors can be sometimes problematic. So in order to stay productive, I will continue to push forward on episode 2 as well.

Moving forward, I hope to mix up the Thursday posts a little bit more as well. Recently I have been doing some reviews of some anime that I have been watching. While I hope to continue this, I also want to share some of the behind the scenes work on the project as well. Behind the scenes and production content was always some of my favorite extras on DVDs and such, I want to provide some of that as well. Thursday will have an interesting entry about Penguindrum so look forward to that later this week!

Recent Viewing- PenguinDrum

This past week I had a chance to watch Penguindrum from Sentai Filmworks created by a studio I have never heard of before, Brains Base. Check out the opening above (disregard the red type in the first :15 seconds). For some reason Sentai Filmworks does not have it’s own youtube channel to display their shows and trailers don’t exist on their website either. So we went with the only video involving the opening to the series. Sentai Filmworks is releasing Penguindrum over 2 discs, so this is only about the first disc since disc 2 won’t be out until mid-March.

Penguindrum has a very interesting story. I had seen a few subtitled (subbed) episodes about a year or so ago while at a conference and instantly enjoyed watching the little blue penguins throughout the show cause chaos and act as the series comedic relief. However, the story does not revolve around the aforementioned penguins, it revolves around 2 brothers (Shoma and Kanba), their sister (Himari), a schoolgirl names Ringo, and a handful of other characters.

The story starts with Himari being sick/dead and when she dawns a magical penguin hat she returns to life and gains a split personality. The split personality is her reason for existence and she orders her 2 brothers to embark on a comedic journey to retrieve the penguindrum. With this hat, comes a group of 3 little blue penguins that each follow a character around and creates comedic relief in the series.

Before you disregard this series as a comedic and random series, hear me out. While it was the comedy that got me interested in the series, Penguindrum has a more darker side to it as well. There is a lot of fate/destiny vs choice in the series and certain characters trying to prove one or the other. There is a little bit of magic, and more. Towards the end of the first 12 episode set, the series starts to paint a darker picture involving the characters. I by saying this I will be setting a high standard, but, dare I say that the series may be heading down the path of Neon Genesis Evangelion where things get darker and more open to interpretation.

I am excited to see how the series plays out and look forward to seeing the conclusion in March to the first Brain Base anime series I have had the opportunity to watch.

From an animation standpoint, they tend to do some things that are par for the course in Japan. Some elements are animated in 3D, which if you watched the opening above you will see they use 3D for some secondary elements. They use particle effects in some scenes as well, for water and even to replicate dust caught in laser sites of some weaponry.

Personally, my favorite stylistic choice in Penguindrum is the use of flat 2D layers that I could easily see being done in Adobe After Effects. If you watch the opening above it would be all of the Penguin face logos, but the series uses those and also uses 2D cutouts for certain scenes too. The series is very focused on settings so when characters go to new scenes we see a 3D subway gate followed by 2D subway signs where the characters are. The signs are all done in 2D with very stylized backgrounds.

When the characters are in crowded areas, the background characters are people icons and not drawn people. The people icons are similar to what you would see on bathroom signs here in the U.S. but when I traveled to Japan last year, they use iconography in explaining many things. There was even a series called XXXHolic (Funimation) that used a similar technique in which all of their background characters were simply white pencil sketches.

Penguindrum provides a fun soundtrack as well. I am a sucker for comedic penguins and especially the amount of subway scenes that appear in Penguindrum as well. I still have to wait to see the last half of the series, but the first half is for sure worth checking out for a variety of reasons discussed above. Let’s hope the second half is at least as good as the first half. Monday will be a new production update and a special post for next Thursday as well.

Production Update 26

Production Update time is here once again. This last week I had some freelance work and meetings. The freelance work was utilizing Cinema 4D so I didn’t have the chance to start building a new 3D scene yet for the trailer.

I did get the chance to start working on some shading and highlighting work. I got through the first page which was 9 images. I have 6 more pages to go until this process is completed and all of the artwork for episode 1 is complete.

I also had the opportunity to work on finishing up some artwork for another one of my projects. I am not sure how much some of the finishing items and such will take, but I will share more on this project once it is completed.

On schedule for this week will be shading and highlighting more work and also some hopeful 3D work on the trailer. Thursday will be a new recent viewing entry as well.

Recent Viewing- Loups Garous

I recently picked up a copy of Loups Garous from Sentai Filmworks that was animated by Production I.G. (Check out a clip of the film above). Loups Garous is pretty much your typical futuristic story with someone controlling a “system”. Based from a storyline perspective, it doesn’t really provide anything new and exciting. People have IDs that allow for you to be tracked and control your house, tv, etc. (basically a smart phone on steroids).

The conflict of the story revolves around the fact that someone is taking kids that lose their IDs. Since the world is constantly under surveillance, if you lose your ID the system can not track you and technically you don’t exist.

If you enjoy futuristic stories, conspiracy, and groups of people looking for ways to beat “the system” this is a decent title. If you enjoy UI design as well, there are many in this film with all of the touch screens and tracking. The film does have a pretty good sound track with a few catchy songs.

From an animation perspective it follows the current trend in Japanese animation. The characters are all hand drawn yet with other elements done in CGI. For instance, a futuristic city needs robots patrolling the streets, these robots are done in 3D. Also, since music has a part in the story, there are 3D animated characters that are on TVs and screens. Since these characters don’t exist in the real world, they animate them in a different visual.

There are many other areas in which they composite some really nice shots. Water has subtle waves that look really good and add a lot to the shot that have water in them. There are also various settings that are used created in 3D. While there isn’t really anything special about these things since there have been titles using these techniques for years, they are well done.

One things that kinda surprised me about Loups Garous is the art style in relation to the story. As you can see from the clip above, the characters are designed to look like a younger audience film. However, the story is darker than what the style would lead you to believe.

Overall Loups Garous was a decent anime film to check out. While it didn’t provide anything new or ground-breaking it did do the genre and animation well, which is just as important. New production update due out Monday.