Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me Roundtable #2 – Digital & Background Staff

This is a newly translated roundtable featuring the staff involved with the digital and background portions of Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me!- (background art, painting, compositing, 3D animation). It was published in the “This is Who We Are Now!! 2019” book sold alongside tickets to the 2019 KyoAni & Do Event and sold individually.

Looking back at our works 2019

Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me –

Interview 2:

Art Director: Mutsuo Shinohara
3D Backgrounds: Joji Unoguchi
Color Designer: Akiyo Takeda
Compositor: Kazuya Takao
3D Director: Rin Yamamoto

Chunibyo is our specialty

– When production started on Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me – (hereafter Take On Me), what kind of discussions did you have?
Takeda: Since I’ve worked on the Chunibyo series for a long time, I didn’t have anything in particular to discuss.
Yamamoto: It was the same here.
Takeda: Of course, if something intrigued me, then I’d instantly start researching it. Also, this film was about a journey, so it was tough to do research as well.
Takao: Then, did you go on a journey like the characters did?
Shinohara: I did go on one. (Tatsuya) Ishihara-san, the design manager, and I went by ourselves. When we listed down all the places we wanted to see, the list was quite long, but as we worked out the details, it actually went quite smoothly.
Unoguchi: For the 3D backgrounds, Ishihara-san mentioned quite early on that he wanted the ferry to be animated in 3D.
Takeda: Similar to that, he also told me that he “wanted Rikka to go from caterpillar to butterfly in this film,” so I had that on my mind while coloring Rikka’s clothes.
For example, I would make the ribbon on her green caterpillar-like clothing be an orange like you’d sense and I’d make her coat brown like a cocoon. Oh yes, he also said that somehow “Rikka was in her cocoon when she was curled in her bed.”
Takao: I see it now!
Yamamoto: She really is in one!

– Please tell us some stories that took place while working on Take On Me.
Takeda: There were a lot of clothes this time around. Since they’re going on a trip, everyone would be wearing clothes that fit their personalities, but they may not all synchronize well on the screen together. I kept having to change the color of Touka’s pants.
Takao: Chunibyo is a very colorful series, but it feels like it was more difficult this time around because you had to design a lot of complimentary colors like green and orange. Did you have a trick you used when determining what colors things should be?
Takeda: A trick? (laughs) I worked while thinking “this character would choose this color” pretty much. That’s why things were determined without me thinking about complimentary colors. This film isn’t live-action; it’s anime. Since the story is colorful, I didn’t want to shade it too close to reality. That’s why there’s a lot of clothing that were brighter colors than you’d see in real life. I did hold back a little with the brightness in some colors compared to the TV series, but it’s Chunibyo, so I chose the colors thinking that bright colors would suit this title.
Takao: People definitely wouldn’t wear those colors in real life.
Takeda: However, I didn’t think about Dekomori’s clothing’s colors as “because it’s anime,” but rather I chose them because “it’s Dekomori.” One peculiarity for this title is that I don’t have any certain instructions or directions from Ishihara-san; it’s more often that I send him a proposal of the colors I’ve chosen instead. Since we’ve worked on this title a while, I know generally what he wants, so because of that I can work more efficiently.
Takao: For compositing, we were requested to make the series consistently softer, so this time we tried to represent that softness using some tricks and filters.
Takeda: Chunibyo always has some fantastic processing.
Takao: That it does. Ishihara-san requests that we do some compositing technique beyond anything we could imagine. “Are you seriously asking us to do that?” (laughs) For evening scenes, we usually insert flares for light patterns over the whole screen, but for this we had moments where they filled up half the screen.

– One of the highlights of the Chunibyo series are the delusional battles in the “Chuuni world”, so how was working on them in Take On Me?
Yamamoto: The animation drawn for those was amazing. The compositing team had snow crystals falling and from those light came out to make it a wonderful scene.
Takao: That was a request from Ishihara-san to have snow crystals falling around, so we made them using materials in 3D for compositing. And furthermore, I added hand-drawn T-light effects to make them glitter.
Yamamoto: That really added the feeling of space in the area as well as made it feel three-dimensional.
Takao: I think so too. Since Ishihara-san worries about the amount of information present on the screen, I wanted to insert some meaning like “Rikka” (her name has the characters for “snow”) in the “snow crystals to increase the amount of content on the screen.
Yamamoto: We wanted that in the 3D realm too as the weapons they used were in 3D. However, there is a moment where it changes when Dekomori grabs two to become hand-drawn, so I was amazed at our work and how well that blended together.

– The opening animation has a different feel to it than the main film too, doesn’t it?
Takeda: That was because Ishihara-san said to “restrain the amount of colors” so it felt different than the usual Chunibyo.
Yamamoto: The clouds that appear in the OP are 3D, but he told us that he “didn’t want them to flow realistically, but like an illustration.” I was immensely worried how you could show that. There’s a lot of elements in this OP that feel special, but they were troublesome to work with. For example, the trains that appear in it. In the storyboards, there were only 4, but Ishihara-san said “more! More!” and wanted me to increase the number to around 24 trains. (laughs)
Takeda: He also asked us about our thoughts to put polka dots on the minor characters walking around Rikka too.
Yamamoto: At the beginning, we attached 3D textures to them, but for some reason, it looked awful on them…… Once we used a 2D image on them when compositing, for some reason it became the easy to see image you see now.

Creating virtual space by splitting duties

– Please tell us any difficulties that arose during production.
Yamamoto: Conversely, was there anything that wasn’t difficult?
All: (laughs)
Takao: Creating that map in 3D was quite the challenge, wasn’t it?
Yamamoto: That was certainly difficult to make. Actually, that map of Japan that appears through the film was designed by Ishihara-san himself.
Takao: He often creates those designs for things himself, doesn’t he?
Takeda: He also drew Yuuta’s “God” image too.
Yamamoto: I went to create Isihara-san’s map in 3D and move around it, but the continent itself felt a bit lonely….. So gradually I asked Ishihara-san to fill in portions of the map with his illustrations and it became what we see in the film.
We didn’t create the entire map in 3D however; when we moved to have it as a level field, the moving waves would move due to compositing and the 3D portions would be the mountains that rose up and the arrows that appeared three-dimensional and some camera work. We wouldn’t have been able to complete this without cooperation from different groups.
Takeda: Anime titles themselves wouldn’t be able to be complete without cooperation. The compositing group is always helping us out.

– How did you determine what the compositing group and what the 3D group would work on?
Takao: Icons that appear on smartphone screens and map displays are always something the compositing team handles regardless of title.
Yamamoto: 3D is mostly used to make sights like tourist locations appear more lively. For example, we’ll add more luggage at the airport and have the background cars and people made mostly in 3D.
Takeda: Wasn’t the mani wheel that Rikka bought in Tokyo made in 3D too?
Yamamoto: It was. Really Isihara-san was immensely terrifying when he thought of it. He knew it’d be immensely challenging to draw it by hand, so at the beginning he thought naturally to make it in 3D, but…..
Takeda: It rotated when the camera was up close on it. However, I was surprised to see that there were portions when it appeared small on screen.
Yamamoto: However, the person who made it was in good spirits as they created the 3D model. Also, the baby mobile that appears in Yuuta’s delusion was made in 3D as well. At the beginning, we colored it as 3D staff ourselves, but they became a bit gaudy, so Takeda-san helped us fix that. If you look closely at it, you’ll see that I was conscious of making it soft so it would be okay if the baby put it in its mouth.
Takeda: It’s only on screen for a moment, but in that moment, you pack it filled with fixations.

– What kind of backgrounds did the 3D background staff prepare for this film?
Unoguchi: We used 3D backgrounds in scenes like the backgrounds when vehicles were moving. The streets in the background by the station when Dekomori and Nibutani are riding in their car at the beginning of the film are mostly 3D background. We also used camera mapping on the pan up when Rikka and Yuuta are eating mochi in the shopping street to make it feel deeper. When you can’t tell that it’s 3D at a glance, I feel fulfilled as a 3D artist. Also we polished things minutely in the ferry scene.
Yamamoto: At first we made a quick model to use in 3D layouts for it. Usually, we don’t attach any lighting when we use 3D layouts, but since this scene takes place at night, we attached lighting where there would be lights on board the ship at the beginning. It was needed because we needed to verify how the light and shadows would play with each other. There’s two types of lights from inside the ship and from the lights outside the ship and their shadows converge on each other and the lighting can blur at points, so we had to attach it there.
Shinohara: When there’s more than one light source, shadows become quite complex. Usually for 3D backgrounds, the 3D section will create the structure and then we’ll draw the backgrounds to be attached as textures. For this ferry scene, we received the 3D layout and then drew the backgrounds based off of that. Since the lighting and shadows were already there, we could draw to match those lights. I was immensely thankful for that.
Yamamoto: Glad to be of service!
Takao: Come to think of it, the 3D was nicely used when Ishihara-san wanted the camera to move.
Unoguchi: Ishihara-san often speaks of “wanting to direct the world the characters live in with 3-dimensions like the real one we live in,” so he’ll insert cuts where the camera rotates like that. It’s one way to showcase the same three-dimensional structures between our world and theirs.
Takeda: I thought that rotating the camera around and around was a nice touch, but it has that meaning? I understand now why he said he “wanted the camera to spin around” in that scene.

To not feel awkward

– Please tell us about anything you fixated on.
Shinohara: When we took photos of the bus boarding area that Rikka and Yuuta board at night, it was actually during the day. Since it would take place at night, we talked as staff about how the atmosphere of the area would change once it became night. As we were talking, one member (Nao) Hosokawa-san said “wait a minute, I’ll head there!” and went to that spot to take pictures of that one location.
All: What?! (laughs)
Shinohara: It’s just one cut in the film, but I can boast that it’s faithfully represented.

Takeda: This might be a little different from a fixation, but during the confrontation scene between Rikka and Shichimiya, we kept the line from the key animation as-is for Rikka’s worried expression. Usually we binarize the lines after scanning, but for that one we kept the pencil line as is when handing it over to the compositing section where they inverted the color.
Takao: Actually, in that processing, there’s a faint bit of light that we inserted in the darkness. We made that light using raw materials.
Yamamoto: You mean original ones you filmed?
Takao: That’s right, real video we recorded.  We set up a Christmas tree in the middle of a pitch black room aiming for lights at a “mall” and filmed it with a video camera. As the lens blurred the light, it had a good feeling to it.
Takeda: Couldn’t you just do that on a computer?!
Takao: Wouldn’t it be the same as being focused on food while painting a culinary scene? You could use it to make something look delicious.
Yamamoto: If you applied realistic colors to something like that, it wouldn’t look tasty, would it?
Takao: It wouldn’t? For us, we can find colors we like in photos and such and drop them in pretty much as-is.
Takeda: When we’re coloring food, we insert “the idealized color” into the food we see at that time. You could go after the color you have in reference images, but since it won’t appear tasty at all, we don’t use that method.

– Please tell us about any other techniques you used to not have any awkwardness on screen.
Unoguchi: For 3D graphics, we can do various things with our software to change how it looks. We can change where the light comes from to place shadows and change the texture’s feel. However, we can’t use any of those tools when it comes to 3D backgrounds. It’s because when we change the light and dark, all of that is due to hand-drawn background art that’s placed on the 3D surface itself. For example, if we want the screen to be dark, then we can’t just set the 3D light source darker, we have to stick a “darkly drawn background piece” on it. It feels like you’re making a “pop-up book” without intending to use CG displays.
Takeda: Doesn’t that take a lot of time to make?
Unoguchi: It does. If you have to make revisions, then at each revision, you have no choice, but to re-draw the background art you pasted. But if it’s just a little bit, then we’ll attach a light source in 3D and then we’ll see what appears to be different. That’s why we can’t ever compromise. Besides that, I think there’s a bit of surprise and wonder when there’s “something that’s drawn moving in 3D.” The reason why we have to decide first where to use 3D backgrounds is because we know that they take a lot of labor and time to accomplish.
Shinohara: For the background side, when we’re working on a large scale 3D background, then I’ll ask Unoguchi-san to please make it early because we can’t work on it if we don’t have anything to work on!
Yamamoto: 3D may appear “convenient” to make, but it’s really quite challenging. Roads and lots of cars are quite difficult to make….. They’re stopping, they’re moving, and you have to make sure they’re following traffic rules, so we’re picky down to the point of which blinking lights we’re lighting up. We’ll check what way the lights are facing and how many cars to put out there when we’re making the scene. Sometimes we’ll make a mistake in the amount of lanes and have to ask the background staff to revise the backgrounds.
Shinohara: That happens, doesn’t it. It’s easy for mistakes to happen with road lanes.
Yamamoto: When there’s differences between real-life locations and the spots we create for anime titles, we have to think about how to make them congruent when creating them. It’s a lot of fine work, but we strive to make sure that people watching don’t feel any awkwardness.
Takao: How we depicted water in bathrooms troubled me this time. We put ripples in the water surface, but actually that type of water wouldn’t have any ripples.
Takeda: And if you don’t put in any ripples, then it won’t look like water.
Yamamoto: Right. Water in Take On Me is fully transparent, so we can’t help but put something in it to make it look like water.
Takeda: Everyone was looking over the price of dishes and joke items on the conveyer belt sushi that the 3D section made.
Shinohara: If anyone found a difference between what was written and the price on the menu, they instantly contacted us.
Yamamoto: That they did. (laughs) People who love sushi on conveyer belts would watch, so it was quite the problem.
All: (laughs)
Takeda: The street tram in Hokkaido had lots of jokes packed into its advertisement. The magazine book published title in the Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Heart Throb – opening was titled “Sold Any Day Now!” too. Ishihara-san is also immensely fixated on joke portions like that. It’s quite fun when others take a look at something you’ve focused on!

– Thank you for your time today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s