Production I.G> WORK LIST> Le Chevalier D'Eon> SPECIAL FEATURE> Les 24 Chevaliers Part XVIII: Masaya Suzuki (Digital Effects)

Les 24 Chevaliers Part XVIII: Masaya Suzuki (Digital Effects)

Sumptuous water fountains in Versailles and melting rosaries, crumbling building and shuffling letters... many little details in Le Chevalier D'Eon are the result of the efforts of a not very well known figure in an animation team: the digital effects operator. In this XVIII part of our exclusive Les 24 Chevaliers special feature, we asked Masaya Suzuki about his job in the series

Masaya Suzuki's In principio erat Verbum: "Metamorphosis!"

Masaya Suzuki
Digital effects animator. Suzuki worked on several games and animes as a digital effects creator, including Final Fantasy 8 (effects and storyboards); Xeonogears (effects, movie storyboards, etc.); Tales of the Abyss (digital processing); anime, Rurouni Kenshin (OP, ED and digital processing); Blood: the Last Vampire (visual effects); Howl's Moving Castle (digital processing); Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (effects); and, of course, Le Chevalier D'Eon.

Can you tell us how things led you to work on the Le Chevalier D'Eon project?I have known Director Furuhashi for a long time. One day, he unexpectedly called me and said, "can you help me on tricky sequences with 2D animation and 3D CG renderings?" So that was the reason I joined the team. Then I realized I had some reference materials for the XVIII century when the story takes place. The project was still at the planning stage, so I offered to lend them to the staff. This tiny coincidence too might have led to my interest in the project.

Can you tell us about the digital effects you worked on?
For Le Chevalier D'Eon, I took up the job to apply digital effects to 2D image of the fountains in the garden of the Versailles. I added a manual drawing process to supplement mechanical rendering of lights using particles. This may be called, a "hand force," which would give more depth to the image. Later, Furuhashi-san came up to me and said, "we need your assistance in the opening and ending sequences!" And gradually expanded my to-do list. (lol) In the opening sequence, my work included rendering fountains, smoke and flames. And for the ending sequence, I designed props as well as adding motion to drawings by Tomomi Ozaki, the character designer. For instance, I did the hair swaying in the wind.


Tell us in detail about the morphing technique used in Le Chevalier D'Eon.
Morphing is most commonly referred to as a method of processing and changing two images with a computer program. As for myself, I think of it in a broader sense as one among the many expressive methods in animation, the fluid transformation, or metamorphosis, of an object from one form to another.

In Le Chevalier D'Eon, it is used as a convenient tool to do many jobs, such as moving natural elements including flowing rivers and clouds, water fountains in the opening sequence, and also in the ending sequence where we've added motion to the still drawings and the moving letters forming anagrams. I also used morphing for Episode 11, in the sequence where the building used as a hiding place for Vorontsov falls down, and again for Episode 19, where the rosary melts away from Durand's forehead.


Is there anything you attempted for the first time in this project?
Whatever I do is experimental and it is important to sharpen my wit to realize my goal in rendering a sequence. It is not like you do as a manual tells you. Nothing is foreseeable until you actually do it. I think it is challenging, but rewarding. I would be happy to come up with something unique that I'd never seen before.

For instance, in Episode 11 where a building collapses, morphing was used instead of a series of animator's drawings. Although there is a limit to the morphing technique - for instance, you can't apply it to the backside of the building that's not in the drawing - I tried my best to realize a spectacular sequence.

And in Episode 19, I wanted to try many things and I came up with the words from Psalms crawling all over the character's body. I knew that the director had left it to me, so I tried to adlib it there.


Was there anything you discovered or acquired in this project?
I worked a lot with young staff members and I was very impressed and motivated by their intense knowledge of their work and their active approach to it. Each staff member had different jobs, but they all shared the same goal: "let's make it interesting!" I was happy to see that they fully noticed and appreciated the effects I created.

This work environment encouraged me to try to be conscientious about letting the audience realize my intentions why I used this particular effects technique or what I wanted to show. But of course a priority for my job is to emphasize the thrilling art of the animators through my effects processing work.

Which sequence would you choose as the best so far?
The ending title sequence, I would say. It has the important task of reminding the audience of the episode they've just watched. In the ending sequence for Le Chevalier D'Eon, I managed to input my ideas, such as using color shades that matched each character and fluctuated the transmitted light to match the music. I must admit that I'm quite satisfied with the result.

But there's one specific scene in the ending sequence that I like most, and it's the Durand part. Although it was not my own idea, if you pay attention you can see that he "twitches" his eyebrow. This is done in a matter of a second, so I was not sure if anyone would notice when I was working on it. But after the series went on air, some fans apparently noticed this little detail. I was excited and "twitched" my brows grinning too. (lol)

Please leave a message for the fans of Le Chevalier D'Eon.
If I may quote a line from a movie, "Don't think, feel!" If you watch it thinking this and that, you will end up saying that there are many elements that differs from real history or are simply not true. But Le Chevalier D'Eon was created by a lot of people who contributed loads of ideas to create something that the audience would "enjoy." Made with passion, this has to be a very good work. I hope you will watch it with an open heart and just feel it.

© Tow Ubukata · Production I.G/Project Chevalier 2006