ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.9 - DECEMBER 1999

Blue Sky's Trip to Japan
(continued from page 6)

Day Six
This was our second to last day in Japan, and also the day that we would visit Studio Ghibli. Ghibli is perhaps the most famous animation studio in Japan. They have produced such movies as Laputa, Grave of the Fireflies, Porco Rosso, Totoro and Princess Mononoke. The studio was founded by Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki when they decided that the only way they could make the films that they wanted to make was to open their own studio.

As soon as you walk in the door you are greeted by many of the characters from Ghibli's movies. What's also striking is the design of the place. Miyazaki had a lot to do with the architecture of the studio, and it has a lovely feeling of openness and the amount of natural light everywhere is surprising. After a brief tour of the studio we were taken to another building where, barely three days before, a film projection room had been finished which could project the 35mm copy of Bunny we had been carrying around with us.

The studio's staff is so large, we had to show Bunny twice to accommodate everyone. Still, we were told that Miyazaki is often very busy and that we probably wouldn't be able to meet him. However, as the first audience was entering we noticed a certain grey haired gentlemen take a seat at the back of the theatre. Unannounced Miyazaki had come to see Bunny. After the second screening we were told that we had been invited to Miyazaki's personal studio, seen here on the right.

Miyazaki sat down with us and talked for almost three hours. We covered all kinds of topics: childhood education, the current trends in media mass marketing, social trends in Japanese and Western society and of course quite a lot about animation. He asked us a lot of questions about Bunny. He also asked about our lighting techniques and how our approaches differed from his cel oriented ones. At this point he paid Bunny a great compliment and remarked that he had never seen such emotion evoked purely from the eyes of a character. He followed this by saying that we were all too young to have portrayed such sadness in an animation.

He then showed us around his own studio (which he also designed) and discussed his plans for future projects, particularly a museum devoted to cel animation primarily for young children. Talking with Miyazaki was one of the most inspirational moments of my life. So inspirational that we made ourselves late for SIGGRAPH Tokyo!

Well it wasn't entirely our fault. Tokyo traffic was also a factor. This presentation did not go as smoothly as the one for Digital Hollywood. We were late to start with which is always bad. The other problem was that the place where we were presenting closed early so we had to get everything done quickly. However everyone was most forgiving and made us feel welcome. SIGGRAPH members were also nice enough to have a modest gathering afterward where we met some more interesting people, in particular some of the designers of the Play Station 2 graphics engine and one of the people quite involved in the production of the game Pa Rappa The Rapper.

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