Miyazaki Interview: Ponyo on a Cliff

Hayao Miyazaki had his 67th birthday recently as he is working on his and Studio Ghibli's latest animated feature Ponyo on a Cliff, due for release mid 2008.

This post is linked to an interview where Miyazaki talks about the film, but I was actually interested in Miyazaki's comment, "I always tell my staff that if they don't like to draw by hand deliberately, then they should give up animation. It's easy to distinguish if pictures are drawn by machines or human hands. If we give up the tough way, we will lose the richness in our art."

Does anyone else agree?


frank said...

If anyone's up late tonight (Monday 14th January), there's a Studio Ghibli film being shown on SBS at 12.20am that's well worth watching.

It's not a Miyazaki film but it is one of the mast moving films I've seen this summer. It's called "Grave of the Fireflies".

frank said...

I agree with Miyazaki-san by the way.

Ian said...

I think there would be a bit of a generation gap thing going on. Miyazaki must be about the same age as my wifes dad, I've explained to him how to check his email about 4 times, it just go's in one ear and out the other. On the other hand he is capable of building and fixing mechanical things that boggle my mind. He wasn't happy with the way grain harvesting trucks empied their loads so he designed and built a new one for his own truch from scratch.

Drawing is uber important and should always be a part of the process. But we should be careful about taking advice from those (no matter how great) who can never understand the intimacy with witch computer animation can be manipulated.

If I had to guess I would say that CG animation has empowered me to produce about 10 times the work I ever could have traditionally at a comprable standard. Thats 10 times as many oportunities to connect with people through my craft, which is why I do it at all. I wouldn't give that up for anything.

That having been said I was lucky enough to have started my carrier before 3D was dominant in the local industry, meaning that I had to work with nothing but drawings for about the first 4 years. Everyday that makes me better at what I do.

The interesting bit for me is trying to unlock why, or what it is about drawing animation that makes it so good, and trying to find ways to apply that to digital gear.

Cassie said...

I agree,
A artist has to draw what they are trying to visualize, or it seems flat and lifeless animation (sound like something I heard from Ian once :D)

Ian said...

I watched Grave of the Fireflies.

I thought it was a beautiful and sad story.

But I can't figure why it was animated. It could have been mad so much easier in live action.

It may be a western point of view, but I just don't see the use of animated films where there is no element of fantasy or absrtaction.

frank said...

Hi Cassie. Are you saying that Ian is our Mr. Miyazki? Wow!

Ian, That's an interesting point about live film and animation. I thought "Grave of the Fireflies" was such a moving and beautiful movie from a , dare I say it, a story point of view, I was so swept up in it I didn't even cast a thought to your line of thinking. But I reckon you're correct.

Miyazaki certainly adds in the fantasy (the sprinkle of magic).

GOTFF was highlighted by Ed Hooks at his 2007 workshop for acting in animation because of the excellent acting choices, human behaviour observation and portaryal by the animators. That's where I thought it would be interesting to see it.

Ian said...

I love animating acting, its my favourite thing.

But why do we do it?

Animation gives us the ability to make the unreal believable. Convincing acting performances are part (I think the most important part) of drawing the audience in so they will accept the unreal.

I don't believe a rat can become a cook, but I was so swept up by Remi as a character, empathising with him, that I was willing to come along for the ride.

Character animators are the magicians of the animated film making process. They alone can cast a spell over the audience (the illusion of live) that will make them believe the unbelieveable.

In my opinion that is the craft of animation.

Its not quite the same as storytelling, its important to understand the broader context for your scene and how your animation fits into it, but character animation alone is more focussed on the pure conection with the viewer at that moment. An emotional connection between a living person and bunch of liveless images, how cool is that.

So I think animators are like the actors of the film world. I wonder how much you get taught about writing stories and directing if you do an acting course?

Actors do a performance on the spot and rely on the fact that we instantly accept that they are real and flawed to cover any rough elements in their performance. Animators can't take this for granted so we have to refine and rework our performances. This may seem like a draw back, but it means we can be so much more precise and far more flexable for our directors (the storyteller).

But if the two processes (acting and character animating) are so similar then why do we bother? Because we can use our skills to take the audience places that real life could never go. Yay for annimation :)