Aniplex Online Fest – Making of Vanitas – Notes!

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Credit: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting

START: 8:40 PM END: 8:55 PM (PDT) | 3 July 2021 | YouTube

Panel Description: “The Case Study of Vanitas” which will start broadcasting in July 2021. The animation production is handled by Bonds, one of the industry’s leading animation production studios, which has produced numerous hit works and is attracting attention from overseas. This time, we will specially infiltrate the inside of the animation studio “Bonds” and approach the back side of the TV animation “Vanitas’ Note” creative while delivering the making video until the animation is made with the staff interviews.

Studio Bones started 20 years ago and through their production company, using “The Case Study of Vanitas” we will discuss the making of anime.

The process of anime production is divided into several sections but below is a short explanation of the process (NOTE: we did a post about this on a similar panel from Aniplex Online Fest 2020 called “How to Produce an Anime”)

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And specialists from each section come together to make the final project.

Section 1: Scenario – Hosted by Naoki Amano (Producer)

Writing the Screenplay 

  • Because “The Case Study of Vanitas” is based on an original manga, Studio Bones bagan with series composition, which is basically breaking down the series and figuring out how much of the story is covered in each episode. In this case, that was done by Deko Akao who is the screenwriter for the show.
  • It’s important to do this break down to establish pacing. Readers dictate pacing when its still a manga, but an anime–which is a moving visual medium–requires the anime production team to dictate. Pacing can help bring drama to the story or take away the intensity, but the goal is to make sure that the fans will be immersed in the story, that those key aspects of the plot are working. The director is also brought into this discussion as it is important to try and portray the style of the original work while also depicting the story in the anime.
  • There are movements in between panels in anime that will not be in the original work of course, that’s one of the challenges with adaptation and with trying to seamlessly tell the story.

Section 2: Storyboard – Hosted by Naoki Amano (Producer)

Storyboards

  • Storyboards essentially cover all aspects of the animation process. They come in after pre-production as a blueprint for the studio to begin animating. They act mainly as instructions for the compositions, guides for character movements, and such. When it comes to storyboarding, what goes on in each episode is pretty much set. There are exceptions, that is usually the case.

Differences between the original work and the anime

  • The Director then instructs the staff members to create the anime. Note that the Director may not always or necessarily create them themselves, but storyboards are always done under the Director’s supervision.
  • If you ever get to look at the storyboards, you may notice that they incorporate many different compositions–some look like basic sketches while others may appear directly taken from the published comic/manga–that’s because the composition of the storyboard uses both original sketches from the studio and manga in its crafting. The purpose is to ease the direction of movement while also staying true to the original work.

Section 3: Character Design – Hosted by Yoshiyuki Ito (Character Designer & Chief Animation Director)

Character Design 

  • Animation is trying to take a two-dimensional image and make it appear to move in a way that looks and feels three-dimensional. This means the hair, clothes, facial features, etc. need to move as a whole, in a setting with lighting and depth.
  • Because there is an original series behind “The Case Study of Vanitas,” the author’s intentions were incorporated into the design even though it is difficult to animate with the exact designs from the original work. Still, Bones did it’s best to make it fit. And changes that were made were brought to the author and designs for the characters completed together.
  • Seeing it in movement for the first time is really cool. For example, in the anime you get to see “The Book of Vanitas” with movements, when it is set into motion–as the words appear on the pages and the book flips open–those are the things that can only be expressed with animation, and Ito would say that’s the highlight of the Vanitas anime.

Section 4: Animation – Hosted by Naoki Amano (Producer)

Animation

  • While animators are behind all of the movements within an animation, you can see all the other steps that have led to it now from story, to episode choice, to storyboarding, to character design, etc.
  • The animators’ job is to draw all those things out. Among the animators are the key animators, and the in-between animators, but they are all part of creating the movements. The final composition of the scenes all depends on them and Amano thinks that they focus on characters’ expressions most because those expressions often reveal their true nature within the story.
  • Characters may appear stylistically distorted at times during the pre-/during production, but in Amano’s experience animators tend to be meticulous and when he sees the final product he can tell how carefully they were drawn.

Sedition 5: Coloring – Hosted by Naoki Amano (Producer) & Izumi Takizawa (Visual Concept & Color Design)

Coloring

  • Once all the previous steps are done, the color designer–in this case, Izumi Takizawa–come in and the color palettes are set. After the palettes are set, each cel of the animation is colored in to match.
  • The color designer checks the original and confirms with the director’s vision before deciding on the colors for the characters and objects.
  • Colors cannot be taken directly from the print, they need to be created on digital mediums. You also must be aware of psychological effects of colors on the audience. For example, red is intense–sometimes passion or fear inducing–while blue may invoke a mysterious and magical feeling.
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[Image from Shirobako]

Sedition 6: Composition – Hosted by Naoki Amano (Producer)

Composition

  • Cels are frames that have been animated and colored. Then the 3-D features are added such as backgrounds or certain materials and items. All of these elements are brought together and edited in with effects to create the animations, frame by frame

Music & Voice Acting

  • After the animation is put together, then it goes onto a final editing where music and voices, lines read by voice actors, are added.
  • At Studio Bones, this is the end of process.

AND that’s how we get this:

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