Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby seanny » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:26 am

Leedar wrote:[...] but it feels disingenous to me to make CG animation that is trying to look like hand drawn animation.
I'm of the same opinion as well... it's lame when a medium imitates another medium. 3D allows you to generate incredibly vivid imagery, so it's sad to see it do an unconvincing impression of cel animation and the like. 3D should find its own aesthetic that plays to its strengths and allows for maximum expression with minimum manpower, which is exactly what Japan has done with its 2D limited animation tradition. That will probably occur as its tools & workflow become less abstract, but at the moment it seems like truly great-looking, immersive 3D animation takes colossal manpower & production value. There's no "anime" analog for it yet.

Part of what makes hand-drawn look hand-drawn is the fact that humans are handling the so-called "transform" (rendering 3D objects on a 2D canvas). Some of the most interesting animators (Imaishi, Ohira, etc.) are able to put loads of human expression into the "transform" stage, by warping and distorting the space that the subjects & characters occupy. This dimension of expression gets thrown out the window in all those disgusting cel-shaded things. You feel it in your chest how rigid the space is in even the "best" anime-esque CG, because the transform is being handled by a deadly-accurate computer sim. This is beyond just making the lines wobbly-- it's about making human decisions on how to map 3D space into 2D.

I imagine a good future 2D-3D hybrid system would be something like an AI that can interpret a simple key drawing, something that looks like a rough silhouette with a face and many abstract hand-drawn markers & specialized symbols around it. With all that, it automatically fills in the nitty-gritty details of the character designs with lighting & shading, materials and so on handled by the renderer rather than by a person who has to meticulously illustrate it all. The artist can then correct & redraw to his heart's content, in 3D and 2D. This way, the expressive aspects like the pose & the almighty "transform" are handled by a person, while the busywork (character design details, lighting, coloring, some level of in-betweening) can be semi-automated by this Robo-AD/Colorist/Inbetweener of Justice, which blows the doors open to non-celpaint aesthetics, complex lighting and advanced materials.

Much of the real strength of 3D animation lies with its "simulations"... its simulations of light & materials, combined with sims for cloth, particles/fx, physics and etc. Back when I thought I wanted to be a 3D animator, I actually had way more fun playing with things like lighting & rendering & clothsim than slogging through the tedium of setting key poses on rigged characters. It would be magical to see those parts of 3D animation come together with 2D animation in a way that doesn't hamper either medium's inherent expressiveness.

The new Berserk movie trailers, if my eyes don't deceive me, seem to show 3D-animated characters with 2D-animated heads drawn over them. It kinda shows that there's some interest in this sort of 3D/2D hybrid future. The character designs of Berserk are hella elaborate after all. They were barely able to animate them in the old TV show.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby H Park » Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:37 am

Yes, the production of value of 3D is still high because it's still evolving and production process has not changed much. As technology moves forward, eventually someone will found far more efficient way to animate in 3D without gazillions of specialists. Just like Japanese who found a way to present dynamic visual with limited animation techniques. As long as some tech people tinker with the software programming, something new will come up.

Right now, 3D simulating 2D is not perfect, but it's still ongoing process. As far as expression is concerned, it'll need artist to edit and adjust as needed. I'm starting to view 3D as a helping hand to take care of tedious labor intensive process, so that artist could focus more expression.

The Berserk monster clip gave away 3D by moving too much with high frame rates and subtle movements that seem to indicate motion capture. I'm not sure if they drew 2D animated heads over 3D. I think everything is rendered because shadow shapes and highlights are just too perfect.
For old TV show, you could tell they were using usual camera techniques. I believe talented animators like Umakoshi and Chiba were too busy doing corrections and layouts. At least I'm glad that Berserk is coming back as higher quality animation.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby andrew_yi » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:48 pm

Could Peter or any other one who has some knowledge on storyboards and layouts give me some tips on what it takes to become a layout artist?

I am a student currently studying to go to grad school for film or animation, and am generally interested in cinematography + camera movements, photography, composition, staging + blocking, editing, writing and just basically visual storytelling in general.

I want to eventually work in either live-action film or feature animations (3d or hand-drawn), not as an animator, but as a part of the storyboard and layout process. The reason being that I'm not the most talented draughtsman or the fastest, and I really have no interest dedicating my life to doing the meticulous and intricate work that comes with animation (either 3d or hand-drawn). I feel like my talent lies in looking at the big picture, setting up shots and the characters and their movements. And although I'm not the best artist with a pencil, I think that I could handle the rough sketching of ideas that make up storyboards, and want to eventually get good enough to draw layouts. Not even necessarily to become a layout artist for hand-drawn animation, but just to be able to previsualize shots and camera movements whether it be for animation or for live-action.

I realize that many storyboard artists and layout artists start out with inbetweening or drawing keyframes before they are experienced enough to do what I want to do, but I really have no desire to learn how to animate myself (although I respect it tremendously). My strengths and interests lie in taking a story and figuring out how to present this story as best as I can visually.

I have been learning and practicing photography, cinematography, and staging + blocking, and also just learning how to draw better in perspective, but I still have long ways to go in getting that shot to be perfect the way it needs to be for layout. My exercises tend to look more like gloryfied storyboards because they lack the precision and articulation that a layout needs. So to make a long story short, what does it take to become a layout artist? Are there any resources like books or videos that might help me? And what is the process that I need to go through in setting up a shot? I feel like I know what I want in my head, but have a hard time translating it onto paper exactly the way I want it. Also any other advice or information that anyone could offer will be much appreciated.

Thanks for all your help! :D
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby H Park » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:35 pm

Andrew,
It seems like you're not serious about layout because you're looking for a shortcut that solves everything. You can't translate stuffs in your head to paper because you never draw relevant real objects for practice first. You should be drawing every single mundane stuff which is going to be a part of your story. Get in the habit of using photo reference for your drawing. If you never drew ruined building even though it's in your head, then draw ruined building using the photo as reference.

it's great that you studied cinematography. It's really helpful for you to devise necessary camera angles and continuity right away. Layout requires serious patience and drawing/design effort. You can't be half-ass about it. You could just stick with storyboard while better artist add wonderfully detailed layout that complements your storyboard panel. It's saves you time and headache.

AWN.com has good information on layout designs and I think there is a book that explains further. Even with books and websites, you can't just whip out butt-kicking layout without considerable effort.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby andrew_yi » Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:25 pm

Thnx for the reply! Yea like I've said it's not that I'm not "serious" about being a layout artist, it's just that I know there are loads of people who are naturally more talented than me and spend hours everyday working on this stuff so I know that I'm not going to be landing any real professional jobs as a layout artist anytime soon.

But, I just think it will be a valuable for my studies because at this point in my life I'm not really sure what my biggest talents are and what path I should strive towards. So even if I don't intend on becoming a layout artist for a legitimate hand-drawn anime studio or anything, I would like to start learning about it so that it would help me to grow as a visual storyteller, and help me to see what my strengths and weaknesses are.

I can draw pretty well (especially if it's copying a photo or a picture :oops: ) haha, and I'm definitely more talented than the average person when it comes to drawing with my hand, but I know that I'm no genius when it comes to draughting especially when freehanding. However what I'm really interested in is being an artist (creatively) and a storyteller a lot more than being a good draughtsman or an animator. And although the latter will definitely help in doing what I want to do, I feel like I still have a long ways to go and am not even sure if I'm capable of becoming a professional in those positions. So if I sound like I'm not that serious about being a layout artist, it's not 100% false haha. I guess I just want to gauge myself and see where my limitations are as an artist, meanwhile honing my skills so I know for sure what I should focus my time and attention on.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby H Park » Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:53 am

andrew_yi wrote:Thnx for the reply! Yea like I've said it's not that I'm not "serious" about being a layout artist, it's just that I know there are loads of people who are naturally more talented than me and spend hours everyday working on this stuff so I know that I'm not going to be landing any real professional jobs as a layout artist anytime soon.

But, I just think it will be a valuable for my studies because at this point in my life I'm not really sure what my biggest talents are and what path I should strive towards. So even if I don't intend on becoming a layout artist for a legitimate hand-drawn anime studio or anything, I would like to start learning about it so that it would help me to grow as a visual storyteller, and help me to see what my strengths and weaknesses are.

I can draw pretty well (especially if it's copying a photo or a picture :oops: ) haha, and I'm definitely more talented than the average person when it comes to drawing with my hand, but I know that I'm no genius when it comes to draughting especially when freehanding. However what I'm really interested in is being an artist (creatively) and a storyteller a lot more than being a good draughtsman or an animator. And although the latter will definitely help in doing what I want to do, I feel like I still have a long ways to go and am not even sure if I'm capable of becoming a professional in those positions. So if I sound like I'm not that serious about being a layout artist, it's not 100% false haha. I guess I just want to gauge myself and see where my limitations are as an artist, meanwhile honing my skills so I know for sure what I should focus my time and attention on.


It's common for everyone to try out all kinds of things to find the right path for career. You don't have to draw super tight. As long as you can draw picture with clear meaning, then your objective is complete. It doesn't have to be pretty, but it has to be clear enough that people could understand what you're trying to say.

Drawing is beyond copying. Sure, illustrators, animators and other draftsmen use photo as reference, but they don't copy exactly as it is. They mentally edit out unnecessary details and add any object
that is not in the photo. They study overall structure of an object, so that they could draw at any angle. So it's like cooking using various ingredients from here and there.

If you feel that drawing is not your strong point and less serious about it, then you should focus on storyboard continuity. You can draw simple blobby figure with simple silhouette and those alone is clear enough for storyboard. When you have hard time envisioning certain image, then do some camera snapshots for reference or use Google for images that you seek. Do some cut and paste if you feel that time is short. Believe it or not, artists simply use modified photographs for their comics and animation. Some of them are obvious and others are not.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby CWalois » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:22 am

Just wanted to say thank you to the guys who put on the panel! I am one of the many people who ended up seeing it as a multi-part YouTube video and it was a great introduction to the world of "knowing your animators". I definitely agree with the concept of encouraging serious fans to learn the names of the key animators (if they're devoted enough to learn Jap. VA or director names, they should be learning gengaman names). I've been meaning to start doing this for a while, but only lately have started downloading MADs and trying to memorize names.

And it's clear that you inherited the usage of the term "sakuga" from the fandom, so even though it's technically incorrect from an original-language perspective, that only places it in the same boat as "otaku", and "animé" itself, since we don't use those correctly either! Might as well let it mean what it's been popularly defined to mean, although it wouldn't hurt to explain briefly the difference between the Jap. "sakuga" and the Eng. "sakuga" in the introduction, maybe comparing it to how we've redefined "otaku" somewhat.

That's assuming you put on the panel again, which I think you should. Even if you're not up for doing that, maybe you could upload your outline somewhere or give permission for other groups to imitate your presentation so they can put on their own sakuga panels.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby Muffin » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:30 am

CWalois wrote:And it's clear that you inherited the usage of the term "sakuga" from the fandom, so even though it's technically incorrect from an original-language perspective, that only places it in the same boat as "otaku", and "animé" itself, since we don't use those correctly either! Might as well let it mean what it's been popularly defined to mean, although it wouldn't hurt to explain briefly the difference between the Jap. "sakuga" and the Eng. "sakuga" in the introduction, maybe comparing it to how we've redefined "otaku" somewhat.


As far as jargon language goes, the japanese fandom use the term sakuga in much the same way. It's not an english fandom invention. It's not much different with "otaku". Japanese fandom and english fandom are probably also closer now than ever before.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby H Park » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:22 am

CWalois wrote:Just wanted to say thank you to the guys who put on the panel! I am one of the many people who ended up seeing it as a multi-part YouTube video and it was a great introduction to the world of "knowing your animators". I definitely agree with the concept of encouraging serious fans to learn the names of the key animators (if they're devoted enough to learn Jap. VA or director names, they should be learning gengaman names). I've been meaning to start doing this for a while, but only lately have started downloading MADs and trying to memorize names.


Knowing names of animators and shows they worked on is not a bad thing, but I encourage you recognize their styles and characteristics too. Ben's blog post is great because he recognizes unique expression of individual artists and put them into spotlight.

Also I encourage you to discover the inner beauty from art of your favorite shows. Find about great thing behind the your favorite scenes. Knowing what makes your favorite scene exciting is a part of the interaction to enjoy animation further.

I'm glad that you watched that Youtube video. Even though it has mistakes, that video is inviting to people get to know more about animation art. Unfortunately, there is still a wide gap between animation artists and fans in the west. That gap created a minor misunderstanding that Japanese animation is "magically" churned out by faceless corporate drones. People have no idea what kind of pain is involved to create the images they enjoy. Disconnection between artists and fans lowered the value of anime as whole and it's sad. It's like listening to your favorite music without going to the live concert at least one time in your life.

CWalois wrote:And it's clear that you inherited the usage of the term "sakuga" from the fandom, so even though it's technically incorrect from an original-language perspective, that only places it in the same boat as "otaku", and "animé" itself, since we don't use those correctly either! Might as well let it mean what it's been popularly defined to mean, although it wouldn't hurt to explain briefly the difference between the Jap. "sakuga" and the Eng. "sakuga" in the introduction, maybe comparing it to how we've redefined "otaku" somewhat.

That's assuming you put on the panel again, which I think you should. Even if you're not up for doing that, maybe you could upload your outline somewhere or give permission for other groups to imitate your presentation so they can put on their own sakuga panels.


I understand that using unfamiliar foreign word of "Sakuga" might add another jargon to western fandom, but I doubt that most people have deep insight to have panel to lecture good animation art history. In a nutshell, "Sakuga" panel is just an art history lecture.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby Peter_Chung » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:47 am

As far as jargon language goes, the japanese fandom use the term sakuga in much the same way. It's not an english fandom invention. It's not much different with "otaku". Japanese fandom and english fandom are probably also closer now than ever before.


Sakuga is only a categorical term that denotes a drawing done by an animator during production.
It in no way endows any qualitative merit to what it describes.
When a Japanese fan points to the sakuga from an animated episode, he's merely drawing attention to the animator's contribution (as opposed to the writer's or director's). He is NOT using sakuga as a term of praise.

It's like the term "concept art" that is gaining exposure through online galleries and artbooks (mostly for games, vfx movies). Naturally, popular online portfolios and published collections of concept art will contain examples of high technical quality. However, there are plenty of cases of concept art that are mediocre. Bad production designs are still "concept art". Just as bad animation is still "sakuga".
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby H Park » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:18 pm

Peter_Chung wrote:
As far as jargon language goes, the japanese fandom use the term sakuga in much the same way. It's not an english fandom invention. It's not much different with "otaku". Japanese fandom and english fandom are probably also closer now than ever before.


Sakuga is only a categorical term that denotes a drawing done by an animator during production.
It in no way endows any qualitative merit to what it describes.
When a Japanese fan points to the sakuga from an animated episode, he's merely drawing attention to the animator's contribution (as opposed to the writer's or director's). He is NOT using sakuga as a term of praise.

It's like the term "concept art" that is gaining exposure through online galleries and artbooks (mostly for games, vfx movies). Naturally, popular online portfolios and published collections of concept art will contain examples of high technical quality. However, there are plenty of cases of concept art that are mediocre. Bad production designs are still "concept art". Just as bad animation is still "sakuga".


I guess western fans have tendency to put exotic terminology to higher pedestal?
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby Muffin » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:52 am

Sakuga is only a categorical term that denotes a drawing done by an animator during production.
It in no way endows any qualitative merit to what it describes.
When a Japanese fan points to the sakuga from an animated episode, he's merely drawing attention to the animator's contribution (as opposed to the writer's or director's). He is NOT using sakuga as a term of praise.


I am aware of the finer points of this. And I was merely talking about the 'jargon' use of the term. Confusing as it may be, (some)japanese fans do use terms like "sakuga anime" to refer to anime with uniquely high-quality animation and artistry. I also think it is clear that a term like "saku-ota" is obviously loaded with the meaning that the person in question appreciates good animation/work drawings as oppsed to merely any animation/work drawings. I also understand that the examples cited do not use the word "sakuga" independently to mean "high-quality animation" in any given context.


I apologize if my original post seemed somewhat careless as if I was advocating the misuse of words.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby Muffin » Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:34 am

Edited my post slightly to be a bit clearer.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby Peter_Chung » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:04 am

But in a discussion like this, the finer points are everything.

Doing a quick search for "sakuga anime" yields the following:

"What Is Sakuga Anime?
Sakuga is what makes anime awesome. …If you’re an anime fan, you’ve seen sakuga in action and it’s probably the reason why you like anime at all."

"When anime uses very fluid, expressive, & exciting animation, this has become known as sakuga animation."

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

"So pretty much all of the best fight scenes have used sakuga animation cuz its fluid, smooth, expressive, and awesome."

"Only one person draws the 'sakuga' animation. Most of the art you see come from ordinary animators. Also, 'sakuga' animation costs more frames. Ordinary animation lasts from 16 to 24 frames. Sakuga lasts 36 frames per action. It's a really demanding job but it's worth it."

"What is Sakuga? Sakuga refers anime which have scenes with a great level of animation. Sakuga scenes have lots of detail, flow and movement with dynamic camera angles and such. "

"However, there are a few shows and movies that everyonce in a while will produce character (or mech. animation) that is particularly exciting or expressive. Such anime is refered to as sakuga anime by some select fans (particularly Japanese i believe)."


In the quotes above, swap the word "animation drawing" for sakuga. "Sakuga" animation = "animation drawing" animation.
These statements are nonsensical, but worse than that, they promote fallacious thinking.
They do not bring us closer to understanding the subject; they take us farther away.

Reading these statements, one gets the impression that there is some special, rarefied, mysterious skill that practitioners of "sakuga animation" employ that exists on a different plane than what is practiced by the common non-sakuga animator.
In reality, there is no such thing. Every animator hones his abilities according to a personal artistic journey of experimentation, discovery, and hard work. There is no special ninjutsu-like power that the so-called "sakuga animators" possess. Skill levels and talent lie on a continuum. There is no magical demarcation point that grants the title of "sakuga" to an animator's work. To believe that there is such a thing is delusional, plain and simple.
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Re: Did a sakuga panel at a convention...

Postby Muffin » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:36 am

Yes. Those are problematic comments.


My understanding of the term being casually used by regulars on this forum has always been that of a simple (maybe ironic)loan word to denote an appreciation of the animation process in (specifically)japanese anime. It does seem like it's becoming too much of a misunderstood buzzword for comfort.

Perhaps we should have a sticky thread explaining the term and its (mis)use. If we are to believe this forum has(for good or ill) any influence on the broader population.
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