The Amazing Creative Collaboration of Anime Production
There are many steps involved in creating a single work of anime. Specialists in each section contribute their creativity and technical skills towards a common goal, resulting in the creation of a unique masterpiece.
Character Design and Drawing
This consists of designing the characters and world view necessary to bring the animation to life. It involves drawing sketches in the beginning, middle, and end that are crucial to the movement of the animation, as well as sections of animation in-between these sketches, all while creating the layout of the screen composition.
For color design, colors that will be used for characters, props, vehicles, and other elements necessary for each scene are developed, and a color swatch chart that will be used throughout the entire animation is created. Taking into account the concept of the project, as well as the intentions of the director and the production team, color schemes and lighting are constructed to create the visual world and atmosphere of the animation. This is an important process that influences the style and quality of the animation in the end.
Here, the sketches and connecting animations drawn on paper are then transferred to celluloid (cels). Initially, tracing was done by hand, but now tracing machines are used to reduce labor costs and maintain the quality of the original sketches. At this stage, only the line art is traced with coloring carried out at the next stage.
Finishing (color designation and filling)
Using specialized paint called "anime colors," colors are created for use in each scene based on the previously established color swatch chart, and the traced cels are filled in. To preserve the contours and boundaries of the traced line art, coloring is done on the backside of the cels. As coloring is performed by a large number of people, a technique called "anime painting" is employed, which involves unifying and simplifying colors and shadow gradients in a step-by-step process.
In a style reminiscent of watercolor paintings using paper and brushes, the background art that will be placed under the animation cels is created. It is essential to design the composition of the screen so as to avoid misalignment between the background and characters, as well as to eliminate any missing background areas when combining the background with the cels. Once the artwork is completed, it is scanned and combined with the animation cels to complete the animation sequence.
If anime studios are not saved, the future of Japanese anime is in jeopardy.
The anime industry in Japan continues to create works that are loved by many people not only within Japan itself but also worldwide. However, there are ongoing challenges that have proven difficult to resolve. One of these is the economic situation of Japan's anime studios. The revenue generated in the anime industry primarily comes from the sale of completed anime works and related merchandise. Due to the complex production process, with multiple companies involved in creating a single work, the funds that can be allocated to each company and job are naturally limited.
Unfortunately, this means that many creators find themselves in a difficult situation where they are unable to earn salaries that match the rewarding nature of their work. As a result, many talented young people who could potentially shape the future of the anime industry are forced to give up on their dreams. There are also numerous creators who, despite their skills and passion, struggle to sustain a career. This poses a significant challenge for the industry as a whole.
Bringing a "Process Economy" to the World of Anime: The Promise of Cel Art
We feel that CEL LAB's core business will become one of the solutions to addressing the serious challenges facing the anime industry today. Cels, which were once simply intermediate products with no intrinsic value, are now gaining recognition worldwide for their "value as works of art."
CEL LAB is also collaborating in a venture that conducts NFT sales of cels and redistributes a portion of the profits to production studios and creators. We are involved in technical cooperation to restore and preserve the value of past cels and plan to expand our activities to include the creation of new cels for exhibition as works of art. Cels represent the first step in this "process economy of anime production." By enhancing their value together with the many people who love both cels and anime, we are working to shape the future of the anime industry.