Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea"

Here is a link to an interesting interview with Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki on the upcoming animated feature film
"Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea" directed by Hayao Miyazaki :

Producer Suzuki's Interview about Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on the Cliff"

This is Hayao Miyazaki's 10th animated feature film which he has directed (along with television series, many short films , and commercials) .  He is approaching 68 years old.  But his enthusiasm for animation is still intact.  This part of the interview was especially interesting to me: 

You would think after 37 years of directing animation, Miyazaki would've reached a peak and discovered the best ways to represent any and everything with animation. But if you've ever seen a Miyazaki film, you know that isn't the case - each and everyone is as visually stunning as the last. 

Suzuki goes on to talk about the animation in Ponyo, explaining that Miyazaki is still intricately involved in the process, even hand drawing most of it. Apparently "80% of [Ponyo on a Cliff] is sea," and Suzuki talks about how Miyazaki tackled the idea of "expressing" the water.

"The waves are an important theme. He never makes others draw the waves. He draws them all by himself. He is devising to find a better way on how to express waves and sea. He is enjoying it.  The appearance of the movie is different. Usual audiences might say 'Aha… this is a different Miyazaki from what I'm used to…' The backgrounds are also different. Not so many handed. I think those are going very well…"

Another important aspect of animation nowadays surrounds using CG to create even 2D animated movies. Although Pixar is incredible in its own right, hand drawn 2D animation is a beloved style that still lives on today. Suzuki recalls an experience making Howl's Moving Castle where they converted some of their animation to CG initially, but later went back to hand drawing the remainder mid-way through because "it didn't seem very natural."

"If a movie at one point is made by the highest tech, it will become outdated soon.  There is one more point. We tried CG on Howl's. For example, the legs of the castle were made by CG. However, it didn't seem very natural to me and I told Miyazaki that his skill was better than that of a computer. He accepted it and quit using CG after that. Hence the latter half of Howl's doesn't include any CG. We now know CG has both its plus and minus sides. So the theme of this movie is as the story: simple. The visual effects are simple as well, while on the other hand it needs very hard working because of the drawing all it by hand."

The rest of the interview can be found at the above link. 

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