How lucky are we ? Bahi JD, an incredibly young and talented animator/illustrator (now working with Studio 4°C) has managed to find precious time amidst his busy schedule for this written interview. He shares with us his creative impulses, influences, and more. This is the first of a 2 part interview.
Q : Please tell us a little more about yourself.
A : Hi everyone! My name is Bahi JD, I‘m a freelance animator and illustrator. I was born in Austria/Vienna in 1991 and also live & work here. I graduated from a multimedia school, where I picked up technical skills from various types of media.
I never went to art school, so I taught myself everything related to drawing/animation/painting or better said, I learned most of it from the internet, but a lot of inspiration & information also came from “natural” sources.
Inspiration & Information is everywhere, the wild and green countryside is as much an influence on me as the city & the internet.
Q : What got you interested in animation ?
A : It started with early childhood experiences, from small flip-books to watching films like Ghost in the Shell, AKIRA and FLCL. Everything that I have experienced in my childhood & teenage times still have a very huge impact on me and my work and there was a lot of animation stuff involved, globally. I learned animation by surfing the internet and talking with people and just doing animation.
Just get started and go for it, talk with people on that are also interested in animation and draw. I was just practicing animation and having fun. Also analyzing movement in video material, both animation and live-action frame by frame. Sometimes I also just analyze movement in real life, everywhere I see movement I study it. I couldn’t find many people that shared the same interests as me in Austria, so that‘s why a lot of it happened on the net.
The internet solved the problem. My biggest support here in Austria are my family & friends, even if they don’t animate or draw. You can‘t find much information or resources on traditional 2D animation in Austria.
IA x JIN | WORLDCALLING – Director : murakumo × kubotabee | Animation : Bahi JD
Q : I understand you’re working on a Studio 4°C project now back in your home in Austria. Please tell us what an average working day is like for you.
A : Before working with Studio 4°C, my timing, speed and schedule was a huge disaster. When I first started, I was running past deadlines the whole time. Imagine you have never been in a studio before, everyone you work with are thousands of miles away and you have no idea how they work.
I had just finished school and I was working like a rookie, no sleep, no food, just working till you drop, no balance, but I loved this work haha, so I didn’t mind. But that’s not really how someone should work, I had to change my working style both for the team and myself. It was difficult at the beginning but I was progressing and finding the balance.
Now I wake up at 7am, get some breakfast and run some chores. I plan and talk to the team (over in Japan) on Skype and do other stuff to prepare for the real work. Then I work til 1pm, while listening to music the whole time. I break an hour for lunch, and resume animating/drawing all the way to about 9. But sometimes I also end up working until midnight, which is quite normal. *laughs*
Q : Please tell us about the projects that you are working on.
A : Currently there are two anime projects I‘m involved in, but I can‘t talk much about them since they are both still in production. The first project is produced by Studio 4°C where I‘m doing key-animation (genga).
On the other project, I had the opportunity to work with the director in his studio in Paris for 2 weeks. It was a really great working experience and I learned a lot from him. He went back to Tokyo so we continued the work through the internet.
I did character design on his project and assisted a little bit on the animation supervising (sakuga kantoku).
There is still a lot I have to learn, and the more people I meet, the more I realize that. I’m thankful to be working with and learning from very talented artists, I feel like a student during a production and all the others are my teachers.
“Nihonbashi Koukashita R Keikaku” – Director : Takuya Hosogane
Animation: Bahi JD, Yotube, Hideki Nakagawa, Nikki Izumoto
Q : As a foreigner working in the Japanese animation industry, what has your experience been like ?
I don’t really feel like a foreigner, except that my Japanese is terrible, but they have English speaking staff there, still I really need to practice my Japanese ! Also maybe the experience is a little different when you work through the net.
The people I’ve worked with have always been very open, kind and honest. They supported me and pushed me the whole time to learn and progress, so I had a really great experience working with them. I didn’t come here to work in the Japanese industry but to work with these talented people that have been an inspiration for me since my childhood. Also things worked very well through the net, we can easily communicate & share files through mail/ftp server/Dropbox.
One of my first impressions was like, these animators work really fast, it was impressive how some people could animate with great quality in high speed. It‘s just a matter of time and practice, so I started to push myself to get faster without losing quality. You need to develop a certain technique to be a good & fast animator.
Inoue Takehiko-san once said something like “A professional is someone who is always progressing.”
I always keep this message in my head, it‘s something you need to survive and stay on the road.
Bahi’s genga work has also been featured in the Japanese magazine Animestyle – read the book review here.
We’ll continue with Part II of the interview in an upcoming post.3