Have you ever wondered about how your favorite animes are created? Whats involved in the animation process? Or how does the manga you've read over and over again transform to the animation on the screen?
Although there are countless animes in the world, the animation is actually a lengthy, expensive and detailed process!
The Average Cost of the Production
Before an Anime is animated, the production company (Funimation, Aniplex, etc ) must first gather the staff, the sponsors they can use, advertisements, and the merchandise they can create. Half of the budget is given to the animators, while the other half is given to the broadcasters. This might sound confusing, but there's a reason for it.
According to the article “Anime Production – Detailed Guide to How Anime is Made and the Talent Behind it!” In “Washi’s Blog”, “The broadcast costs are surprisingly high – according to blogger, ghostlightning – at about 50 million yen for a late-night timeslot across 5-7 stations for a 52 episode series.” (Anime Production – Detailed Guide to How Anime Is Made and the Talent Behind It!”Washi's Blog, 17 Jan. 2011, washiblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/anime-production-detailed-guide-to-how-anime-is-made-and-the-talent-behind-it/.)
You can see why some animes cut out some of your favorite scenes in mangas.
Because of the huge costs, it's a risky decision to green light an anime or film idea. In the article “Interview: Sword Art Online Producer Shinichiro Kashiwada” by David Estrella and Evan Minto, Shinichiro Kashiwada states the lines “ Financing is essential when creating anime. A show might cost a few hundred million yen, and it’s quite a risky venture for a single company to embark on. In the spring of this year, there were about 50 animated shows and only about two or three of them were hits, meaning another 40-some-odd shows were not successful, so it’s very risky.” (Minto, Evan, and David Estrella. “Interview: Sword Art Online Producer Shinichiro Kashiwada.” Ani-Gamers, AniGamers, 12 Sept. 2014, anigamers.com/interviews/sword-art-online-shinichiro-kashiwada-interview.)
To ease the worry of the risk of losing money, many companies generally pool the money they want to fund into the anime, so it's not just one company working to finish a production.
Storyboards are a way for the animators to plan their story. It's like writing an essay. You need a rough draft in order to plan what you're going to say, then you clean it up. Animators can use many ways to plan their story, they write the story and see what the whole concept is about. They can also use frame by frame sketches to see how the outcome can be itself. It all revolves around timing, art and, realism. They must also write its script and draw its storyboards, including the illustrations, which explains why so much of it is retained in the theatrical release. Showing how directors have to sketch things out, and prepare their story. When you have music in a scene you want it in a right moment, so the animators control the timing of the animation by adding pictures per second, and they have to determine how to make it fit with the characters actions. Most importantly you have to have the height and weight of the characters consistent. The character's height and weight must be definite and written down so that the proportions can be accurate for every scene.
Unlike most worldwide animations, anime uses ‘Traditional Animations’. Which means that each frame is hand drawn! Hand Drawing the animation allows for more expression and individuality. This sounds painstaking, but animators are more comfortable with this method, as it allows for easier correction.
Directly from the storyboard process, the Key Animators get to work. They draw all they ‘Key’ frames that are essential. For example, a character jumping up is one key frame, and then landing is another key frame. They draw lines where the shading will occur, and the number of frames is based on the the intentions the actions, the time that it's using and the budgets. There can be up to 20 key animators on a single episode.
After key animations, there's the In-Between animations. These frames go in between the keyframes to create more fluidity. These frames are created by less experienced animators, who are poorly paid, and is usually only a temporary position for an animator. However, that doesn't makes these frames any less important!
After this step, is the filming process. After the frames are drawn, they are digitized (put on a computer). The frames are drawn over on a computer by the ‘Painting Staff’. After that, they are put in an animation software (RETAS! PRO is usually used). The background is drawn digitally. Adding the background and effects is generally referred to as “filming”.
Finally, after the visual parts are done, next is timing the episode right for the broadcast time it’s given. Then the adding of the music, sounds effects and voices. Anime production is a long, expensive, and risky process, but as we all can agree, it’s definitely worth it in the end!