Monday, September 15, 2008

Makoto Shinkai

Makoto Shinkai, the genius animator in Japan, was born in 1973 and graduated with Japanese Literature Diploma. He is my favorite animator and his work "The Place Promised in Our Early Days" inspired me so much that I finally made decision to get into animation. Here is the Video link for that animated film:

Although the english version trailer isn't really as good as the original one, I still want to show you how his film's style is like. It has a beautiful and almost realistic image and visual effect, with a cinematic style. You might say "well, they have the people and time," but what if I tell you he made most of the backgrounds and effects by himself? Makoto Shinkai is famous for his skill of independent working ability, not simply because he can do it, but also because he can do it really well.
I especially like the way he approaches his art work, even though people always question on his character animation that is often considered as the important part of animation in the western eyes. However, Makoto Shinkai looks at animation in a different perspective, and he uses the background, as his character, to tell the story as well as creating the atmosphere for his films.
He is hardworking on drawing the crazy details. However, he is genius at "cheating" in order to present a beautiful world that should require a huge amount of time. By using static images, lighting effects, and camera movements, Shinkai is always able to give you a realistic feeling with the minimum effort. His early film, "She and Her Cat", is completly done by himself, and is the best example to show how he uses a lot of still images and tiny detailed animation to create the beautiful world of a cat that no one has neven done before.

Makoto Shinkai is not only excellent on his technical skill, but also his artistic vision and voice. Through "She and Her Cat", you could probably see that he can write beautiful words in relation to his vision. Together with the music, he also knows exactly which camera angle can work and how to edit them. All those talents give him a capability of producing a master piece. And that is called "5 Centimeters Per Second":

I spent a lot of time trying to find his way of working on these unbelievable images and effects, and hopefully I will let you know more about his techniques later:).There are still some amazing videos that he made, for now I think these are enough for you to enjoy.


Eric said...

When I first found this post I watched the videos and was in awe of the effects. I started reading to find out what studio had worked on the effects and I could not believe when I read that Makoto did most of it by himself. The angles in his shots and particle effects on the backgrounds are just fantastic.

I really see a lot of his influence on your work after reading your write up. I think Makoto's approach is quite interesting with respect to how much emphasis he puts into creating atmosphere around the character rather than rely on character animation. This is in contrast to a lot of what Disney tries to do with its animated films.

The vidoes that are posted really show Makoto's viceral style as well as his attention to detail. It is quite impressive to consider his vision coming from a different animation perspective. I feel like a lot of Japanese animation is similiar in the mind that creating unique visions outside of some of the run of the mill American films.

Essay said...

Oh my… So while I’m primarily interested in Western animation, every so often I revisit the realm of anime to see what’s been going on since last I checked in. I haven’t done it in a while, but watching Makoto Shinkai’s work, I think I’m definitely going to have to check it out. To be honest, I watched the YouTube videos before I read your post, and when you mentioned how he does them primarily by himself, I was totally blown away. I was already intrigued by the use of background and camera angles more commonly found in live-action cinema, but knowing that Makoto did most of it himself made me watch them all a second time. I was so drawn in I hadn’t even realized how much he relied on the “cheats” of still images, lighting and camera moves because he used them so masterfully.

Another thing I found particularly interesting was his non-reliance on the characters. In the three videos you have here, Makoto rarely shows the characters’ faces, instead using the background to tell the story. We never even see the full face of the woman in She and Her Cat.” I find this a very distinct contrast to the films I’m used to in Western animation, and even most anime films I’ve seen. I think I’m going to have to explore this non-character-focused idea in my own work soon, because now I’m extremely interested.

Untitled - Work In Progress said...

I still find it difficult to believe that Makoto Shinkai works independently on every aspect of his films. He is a talented genius! He makes animation seem easy when it generally takes group collaboration due to the intense workload. I really like the idea of maximizing realistic effects with minimal efforts. Shinkai is certainly creative with his techniques. And I appreciate his balanced approach to creating stylistic yet well narrated films. It’s hard to imagine how one can take on animation single-handedly yet still maintain a detailed perspective. I enjoyed watching the clips you uploaded.