Interview with Takayuki Hamana (II)

Profile - Born on November 3, 1967, Takayuki Hamana started his career in the industry as an inbetween animator. After 4 years at Ajia-do, he joined Production I.G in its early days, when the studio was still named IG Tatsunoko. At I.G, he worked as key animator for many projects, from the TV series Blue Seed (1994) to the feature film Jin-Roh (2000). However, in 2001 he debuted as series director in the smash-hit The Prince of Tennis (2001-2005), and in 2005 he directed his first theatrical feature, The Prince of Tennis - Two Samurai: The First Game. After Sisters of Wellber Zwei, Hamana will direct Library War, slated for spring 2008 in Japan.

Starting from the sentient tank, Gyrano de Borgerac, we can notice an extended use of 3D animation in the series.
We actually used 3D profusely for natural phenomena, such as water and fire, but also for weapons, horses, vehicles, ships and part the human characters. A number of effects was in fact reproduced digitally, such as air thickness, light, hot waves in case of fire etc. According to the case, we pursued naturalism, but sometimes we intentionally exaggerated to create a more spectacular animation.

Wire frame structure for Gyrano de Borgerac (left) and a screenshot from the series (right).

As you mentioned, Gyrano is entirely computer-generated. He had to be a solid bulk of iron, but also being able to overact in a comical manner, so the 3D team's greatest challenge was to render both characteristics. However, rather than the use of 2D or 3D, as a director I'm giving more importance to a good story.

In Sisters of Wellber, great care was dedicated to water and ships. Many sequences featuring these elements are in fact fully computer-generated. They required an accurate blending of shadows (with Toonshader) and blur to render the different distance of the various objects within a scene and the different nature of hard solids and moving liquid mass. Most of the explosions, too, are computer generated. 3ds Max, After Effects and Photoshop are the main software used.

Many fans wonder about what an anime director's average working day might be like. What is your schedule during the production of Sisters of Wellber?
Rather than a single workday, my schedule is organized on weekly basis. And if you really want to know that in detail, there you are.

09:00~12:00 Storyboard check (at home)
12:00~13:00 Lunch
13:00~18:00 Storyboard check
18:00~19:00 Dinner
19:00~23:00 Drawing my own storyboards (*)
(*) As the series director, Hamana has to check the storyboards for all episodes, but not all storyboards are drawn by himself.

09:00~12:00 Storyboard check (at home)
12:00~13:00 Lunch
17:00~18:00 Free time
18:00~23:00 Script reading meeting and 3D meeting

09:00~11:00 Free time
11:00~14:00 Dubbing
14:00~15:00 Lunch
15:00~19:00 Dubbing
19:00~21:00 Transfer
21:00~23:00 Storyboard check and retake (at home)

09:00~11:00 Free time
11:00~16:00 Video editing (*)
16:00~17:00 Transfer
17:00~23:00 Meeting with episode directors etc.
(*) Video editing means that complete audio and video materials are edited and formatted for TV air (OP/ED, postproduction etc are also added here)

09:00~12:00 Storyboard check (at home)
12:00~13:00 Lunch
13:00~15:00 3D meeting
15:00~16:00 Prop design meeting
16:00~18:00 Free time
18:00~20:00 Background Colour meeting
20:00~23:00 Background Art meeting, 3D check, Background setting meeting

09:00~12:00 Storyboard check (at home)
12:00~13:00 Lunch
13:00~14:00 Free time
14:00~18:00 Cutting (*)
18:00~19:00 Transfer
19:00~23:00 Layout check
(*) Cutting is a sort of pre-editing: at this stage there is no sound, and many sequences are still uncompleted, but here the director decides which scenes can remain and which ones must be shortened or cut away. Some adjustments may also occur in the video editing phase. The voice actors in the Dubbing phase work on this still unfinished video material.

09:00~20:00 Free time
20:00~23:00 Storyboard check

It seems that anime directors are really busy people!
Do you have a message for the fans?

I wish to create a human drama rather than eye-catching combat. I hope you will enjoy the psychological drama of the characters because we've put a lot of heart into them. There is lots to see including the suspense and the escapes. And I am sure you will enjoy distinctive characters such as Borgerac. Please stay tuned!

(2 - end)

special thanks to Thomas Webler

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