From narrative techniques to different forms of graphical expressions always was ( and possibly still is ) at the forefront of cinematic expression.
3D/CG ( Three-dimensional Space / Computer Graphics )
For many regarded as the antithesis of traditional animation, Computer animation has increasingly making their presence.
I want to demystify this subject but still it will be from a personal point of view, although I think it will be interesting for everyone.
Golgo 13 debut in 1983/13 ゴルゴ a traditional film in terms of its execution with the exception of one sequence of the film.
It contains a complete CG Sequence.
Is was an expensive investment to produce a sequence that intended to revolutionize the all japanese animation industry.
In 83 to produce this kind of content was necessary to to resort to engineers of computer graphics and use computer that were normally used for laboratory investigation.
The camera angles are bold and full of dynamism but lack of continuity between the animation and the CG were obvious and if you look at the very end of the sequence the only thing in common is that the helicopter is green!
In Galatic Pratol Lensman / GALACTIC PATROL レンズマン its intro is totally CG.
In my point of view its use was not what was in question.
Before continuing , why the use of CG?
Any Artist facing a new technique faces a similar question, why use a new technique that usually is still little developed (just causes more problems than it provides solutions) when you can use a technique which although old and laborious still gives results?
The most obvious answer its in the ease in producing scenes of high complexity to a designer.
Scenes of landscapes, entire cities, forests, armies are all excellent applications of the CG.
It could take years to produce a mountain full of trees using artists and Cels,
but when using CG it could be done by one artist and a couple of days.
But a better answer would be this:
The CG is being used to explore new forms of storytelling.
For example in 1994 the Studio Ghibli we all know the fluidity of its 2D animation, the film Pom Poko / Heisei Tanuki Gassen 平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ Ponpoko has its premiere as the first movie studio to include CG.
From this date this would just be another tool on Studio Ghibli toolset.
In 1997 during the launch of Princess Monoke / もののけ 姫 Mononoke-hime, the team already intensively used CG.
The game cinematics.
Created to mimic the foundations of an anime intro,they would drive the story/content of the game, taking gamer to a new graphical level that game engines couldn't support at that time.
In 1994 Tekken from Nanco is released and its cinematics were applauded as innovative, realistic and containing characters charismatic as those of an anime.
A new division is created within the current Square Enix, Square Visual Works to allow a new style of animation, 100% CG, this department would later be responsible for great achievements in the history of CG.
The CG used in video games and CG video / animation are two different fields with many points in common but on opposite ends of the scale.
The CG used in video games is called simply by 3D or Real Time Engine 3D and allows all the necessary interactivity to a video game, in the case of 3D/CG the images are pre calculated
(render) and are completely enclosed and displayed in a format video.
So this doesn't get over complicate this article will not discuss Real time 3D engine / game engines.
Even so this is already difficult to understand , Video Game Cinematics, 3D Characters, 3D sets, Integration into traditional animation all this are many applications for a single tool.
So in order to continue I need to introduce two concepts.
PR and N.PR.
P.R ( photorealistic rendering )
N.P.R ( non-photorealistic rendering)
Besides being a description of the technique used, also allows the categorization of animation.
PR does not refer to the photographic realism but rather a simulated / stylized realism.
NPR in most of the cases is used with a technique which is entitled Cel Shading.
Cel Shading is the process by which a computer generated image overrides the realistic
shadows, nullifies a lot of things that happen in the real world, only to create nuances of color, shade and contour silhouette similar to the “Japanese traditional animation”.
Examples of NPR:
Macross / マクロス 30th year anniversary ( 2012 )
A massive effort to convert the old animations in full CG scenes.
Robots, spaceships, Sets.
Characters were still drawn
The film is based on a 100% digital pipeline but the characters are based on 2d drawings, the remaining its Cg painting using 2D techniques.
Big budget film, the Studio responsible for the remake of Evangelion, Studio Khara not spared the massive use of CG, even the characters were created in 3D.
Tekken: Blood Vengeance /鉄拳 ブラッド・ベンジェンス (2011)
The company Digital Frontier was responsible for this project for Namco / Bandai and all CG and movements of the characters are based in performances of real actors using the motion capture technique.
An example of the kind of graphical and realistic styling that Square Visual Works can output, extremely realistic but still with a strong artistic direction.
Expected to be released in August of this year, demonstrates how well the image can be realistic without being a replica of reality.
Appleseed Ex Machina / エクスマキナ (2007)
Following the same style as the 2004 version, which mixes the NPR and PR attempts to define.
Seeks to merge the best of 2 techniques
Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence /イノセンス ( 2004)
A sequel to the enormous success of 1995 which by itself already been a revolution in the use of GC, this one uses CG in a unique form.
Detailed 3D models of a coated 2D painted complexity
For curious geeks here is a short list of the major studios and software they use.
Square Visual Work: Autodesk Maya e Autodesk Softimage ( ex :Final Fantasy)
Digital Frontier : Autodesk Maya e Autodesk 3dsmax ( ex: Applesed/ Tekken/Wold Children )
Marza Animation Planet : Autodesk Softimage ( ex: Space Pirate Captain Harlock )
Studio Khara : Autodesk 3dsmax ( Ex: Evangelion Rebuild )
Studio Ghibli : Autodesk Softimage ( Ex: Princess Mononoke )
Production IG: Autodesk 3dsmax ( Ex: Ghost in the Shell )
Autodesk : http://www.autodesk.com/
I leave this little tip
Many Japanese freelancers do not have money to buy the same software as big companies.
So their attention turned to a piece of software called Blender.
Blender is an open source software that is been so developed that even major studios have pick it up and implement it on their pipeline.
Extra: ( tip by Sammy Sedrati )
Also widely used softwares among freelancers for modeling, not free though but cheap, are Metasequoia and the Basic version of shade3D.
Here is the work of a Card Captor Sakura fan , who tried to replicate the entire 1996 intro using only Blender CG and video editing software.