3D Graphics

How anime is made?

imageMany IT people watch an anime. Majority people have seen it at least once. How is it created?

It begins with an idea. Sometimes, a brainstorm is done in order to choose just one, but better idea. Occasionally, the management makes a decision. Anyway, this is the first and most tedious step. After the idea has been selected, a team is put together, which will deal with its implementation, as well sponsors are needed. Anime is actually a pretty expensive thing, because the showing cost of 52 episodes late at night is close to 50 million yen (it is about 500 000 US dollars) for 5-7 TV channels, and the anime Fullmetal Alchemist to show at 6 pm will cost in 10 times more expensive!

The next couple steps are not necessary in the case if the anime will be drawn as the manga-based. A large majority of theses Japanese cartoons are on the market. By the way, if manga was successful or not, we can find out in advance whether anime will be successful. It is worth noting that sometimes it could be vice versa - manga is drawn by anime. For example, thus it was with FLCL.

The second step is invention of the general concept - who, how, what and why. The characters and storyline are being invented, and made some first sketches. Once it is ready, the scriptwriters and artists begin their work. They write a detailed script, draw characters and backgrounds, and then they do a rough scene selection.

Everything is drawn in an old-fashioned way using a pencil and the paper. Characters are drawn from various angles and in different moods and clothing.


Conversion of these sketches into a digital form can be done in two ways. Pencil sketches are covered with ink, or they are done by a hard pencil for more contrast, and then they are scanned:


An outline of the entire storyline is drawn after the characters are ready. Also, this is done using a pencil and paper with comments at intervals of a second.


A background is drawn separately from all this. It happens quite often that it is not drawn from scratch, but some photos are used for that purpose. So do not be surprised if some places will look familiar during a walk in Japan.


However, the background can be drawn later in the process, especially if it is distant and it does not need to draw the details of animation shadows.

Finally, it is the next part that involves the computer work. Here comes big and difficult work, such as the animation, coloring and layout. At first, artists draw a few frames of animation characters between ready-made outline frames of the storyline. Usually, they draw 12 frames per second for the television anime, but sometimes it could be 24 or 8. It is really hellish work. Let us imagine how many frames it takes to draw for 25 minute series!

Then other people smooth this animation, so it will look naturally. Finally, the third team colors this animation. Besides, there are also effect artists. They add all sorts of sparks, stars, and so on. As a result of background addition comes out the finished piece of anime.

The art director (animation director) watches the all process closely, which checks a staff, makes changes, and sometimes he/her redraw something entirely by his/her own hands. Therefore, this position is assigned by one of the animators with great experience.

It should be noted that 3D graphics has made animators life easier in recent years. For example, it is actively used by Makoto Shinkai in his works, but anyway most of the anime is drawn by hand.


Then it comes the sound turn. Voice acting actors say their cues and sing songs. It may look very funny from the outside. The majority of anime boy voices actually is a female, because a male voice is lower, and it does not sound like child’s voice, and no one takes children for the voice acting for some reason.


Voices are altered and superimposed by the additional sounds, such as the rustle of leaves, walking, etc. Finally, the background music is added, and anime production enters in its final stage - showing.

How do they get money from the anime? They get money from advertising and merchandise selling. The block of commercials is put in the middle of the series on television. Sometimes, they draw the names of sponsoring firms or their products right in the anime (for example, all characters use the phones of one company). Anime is being recorded on DVDs. Also, the anime characters are available in numerous posters, figurines and so on. Well, we will just watch it.

Anime Production - Detailed Guide to How Anime is Made and the Talent Behind it!
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How Anime is Made
Pirat 18 december 2011, 12:57
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0 buggyde April 21, 2012, 8:35
A good read, nice work. I did find the text a bit disjointed in places and had to re-read it a couple of times. But a very interesting article. Thanks for the work
0 Synapse June 26, 2012, 4:49
I am actually an animator and you are right in some respects and wrong in other respects. Usually when they go to make an anime series someone pitches an idea. In order for a studio to mitigate losses they allow someone to go through the idea and character creation phase by themselves. This way they don't have to spend money on creating an idea, they simply pay a person who has an idea already. This is not true in all cases and sometimes they create ideas from scratch, most of the time however it is the brainchild of someone's free time and efforts. There are also ideas based on movies and books etc..

You are somewhat right in that they create sound at the end of the process. There has been a push for some animation studios to create the sound first then create animation on top of that at least in anime. Animation made on the west coast and in America is done the opposite way, the sound acting is created first. An actor has a lot to bring to the performance and this helps the animator bring the tempo and personality to life. Personally I think creating the sound acting first is a much better approach, then your lip syncs and overall tempo of the animation is on point. This is especially true in facial acting and performance, anime has a certain symbolic unspoken language. Animation created in the U.S. tends to be much less symbolic and much more realistic.

When you were talking about making animation you were right and wrong. Animation is generally 24 frames per second. Animators generally will create animations on what we call 2's, that is one drawn frame held for two frames. Anime to save cost will skimp heavily, especially, if you notice on dialogue scenes, they may be done in 4's or 5's. 1's that is 24 drawings per second!!! extremely expensive are only done in important fight scenes.

There are exceptions, a man called Richard Williams, he created Who Frame Roger Rabbit, hired some of the best animators to ever live Art Babbit etc.. He wanted to create a full length movie animation entirely in 1's. The movie is called The Thief and the Cobbler, the movie was never fully completed, well at least not under Richard Williams. His crew worked on this film for 30 years, 30 years!!! They never fully completed it, however a fan took all of the pencil tests new and old film and put it together to create a semi done film. I would recommend this film to ANYONE who has any interest in animation. This beautiful piece of art gives you an idea of the amount of work animation really is, when it was worked on for 30 years. Richard lost the rights to this film in the 90s and Disney took it and botched it up made a film called The Princess and the Cobbler what a piece of utter crap, don't watch that.

Back to my point, there are different types of animators as well. There are something called storyboard artists. These are some of the best artists in the industry. There job is very important they basically draw the entire story, they don't do all the animation, but they do the entire story. If are any changes in scenes or emotions they draw it. Then a key frame animator goes in and draws key frames, that is to say they draw any change in motion or anything new happening in the scene. Then an inbetweener, (They usually outsource inbetweeners nowadays) he does all the drawings in between each key frame. Inbetweening is the most tedious, it's also the easiest since you aren't doing anything new, everything is already laid out for you, you are just doing the hard manual labor.

Finally the animation goes to a clean up artist (maybe). This just depends on how they made the animation. Since everything is going more and more digital they take every chance to insert backgrounds lighting and other aspects digitally. Using tools such as AfterFX, Maya, even flash for some parts. You can also animate completely on a computer using Flash or AfterFX, a buddy of mine does stick figure animation completely in flash. South Park for example used to use cut out pieces of construction paper for animation, there is a reason they don't do that anymore, because it's a damn nightmare. What they do now is use Maya, which is a 3D animation program and use it's tools to make it look like it is 2D, using shaders. This saves a lot of time and money, this is how they make jokes on current events.

There is much more to the process than what I said, that is just a part of it I am just tired of typing now

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