This is part II of our artist interview with Austrian illustrator/animator Bahi JD. Be sure to read Part I here if you haven’t.
Q : What do you think is the future of traditional 2D animation, both in Japan and globally ?
Difficult question, the market in Japan has changed it‘s focus lately, so it makes things harder now. The anime industry was in a down trend from 2007 to 2011 in my opinion, but now it‘s going upwards again. Many talented and young people are rising in Japan, I‘ve seen some impressive and great work in the commercials and independent scene, so I‘m not worried. There are many interesting 2D animations on web from all around the world. A lot of interesting projects show up as feature films, short-films, music videos or even commercials.
Some animators in the industry now animate on a tablet, but it‘s still hand-drawn and you can get that traditional look if you know how to use the digital tools. The hand-drawn looks can get lost during the digital tracing process, (they trace the lines digitally for the final shot) but depends on the project and the budget; how well they trace them, sometimes the trace still has dynamic lines like in the movie Ghost In The Shell INNOCENCE.
The digital tablet animators mostly work on Flash, some people can‘t even imagine that you can create hand-drawn animation with that software. At the beginning you need some time to familiarize with the UI and “draw” on Flash and get the lines the way you want but it‘s possible. You just need to practice.
These are some beautiful shots by Shingo Yamashita made in Flash :
There are even anime feature films where some animators worked on flash, the production process is usually the same.
All my animation are also done in flash ( http://bahijd.tumblr.com/tagged/animation ), except this one where I used “EasyToon” ( http://bahijd.tumblr.com/post/32165274179/bahi-jd-shithead-action ).
(above) Rough animation 原画+動画, I made this completely in Flash.
(アニメーションMV) 日本橋高架下R計画 Music Video -BIRTH- directed by Takuya Hosogane.
So, it doesn’t really matter whether you animate digitally or on paper, choose the one you feel comfortable with. Beside that, 2D animation is getting mixed with 3D globally, I think it‘s a positive thing and can help to develop both 2D & 3D techniques. 3D animation shouldn’t try to overtake or shadow 2D, it‘s great when both styles collaborate. And since the world is so interconnected these days, people are more open to all kinds of animation styles and techniques.
Q : Who (artists, illustrators) and what has the biggest influence on your creative/animation work ?
The list is too long but I will mention some of them and and put a link to their works.
Shinya Ohira ( http://www.catsuka.com/player/mad_Shinya_Ohira )
Ohira-san has a very original animation style, individual animator & artist. His animation is both realistic, dynamic and abstract.
Yutaka Nakamura ( http://youtu.be/xryoNr_qhyI?t=42s )
He is the master of action scenes with a very dynamic timing and style.
Iso-san has a great sense for weight, gravity and realistic movement in it’s own way.
He animated my favorite battle scene, start at 0:21-> ( http://www.catsuka.com/player/mad_Mitsuo_Iso_Eva )
Koji Morimoto ( http://youtu.be/z53R0LoeV8c?t=13s )
Morimoto-san is a very talented director and also a great animator and designer. His works such as Ken Ishii – Extra and Animatrix Beyond had a big influence on me as a child.
Tatsuyuki Tanaka ( http://www.catsuka.com/player/mad_Tatsuyuki_Tanaka2 http://cammadanar.tumblr.com/post/18444317709 )
Great animator and illustrator, you’ve reviewed his work on this blog many times too.
Here’s a video with lots of my favorite animators and animation scenes – ( http://youtu.be/2g8t40gxJ88 )
(above) Rakugaki sketch making of. By Bahi JD.
But I never want to get obsessed with someone or something, so always keep a balance ! It hinders progress when your favorite artists become an obsession. So I always try to be open to everything and discover different artists & works. These artists I like are great teachers and inspirations but I never want to see them as challengers, I rather go my own way and try to beat myself. You can imagine it like a video game – I always try to best my own high-score over and over again.
Q : For aspiring young animators who would like to enter the industry, what advice would you give them ?
It‘s so hard to give advice but I will try to write something and I hope it will be somehow useful.
The most important thing is to work very hard to improve your skills. Also, get in touch with animators and producers, they can help introduce your work to the studios, and if the studio is impressed, you will be hired.
You need to strive for a really great portfolio that shows your flexibility. Be able to draw/animate everything possible, not only anime-ish stuff or cartoons. Animate many different things, not only characters but also fx, mecha, planes, animals, EVERYTHING. Show that you are able to draw & animate everything from any angle.
Also work on your layouts, a key-animator ( Genga-man ) has to draw the layouts before he starts animating. Layouts consist of background and everything seen on the final shot. ( http://bahijd.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/layout3_bahi.jpg ) Animation companies always ask about your layout skills when you apply, not only your animation skills. Work on your speed, if you fail at delivering your work, the whole team will get in trouble. You can‘t afford any unprofessional mistakes because reputation is key in getting hired by other companies.
So prepare yourself very well before you enter the industry. And just continue, even in the toughest moments, those are the times when you really develop and progress. The animation industry is a friendly place so just get in touch with the people and upload your work on web, people have to know you and your work.
Halcyon Realms : Thank you so much for the interview Bahi ! I cannot stress how inspiring your work and advice have been to all of us. Please continue to create amazing work for all of us to enjoy ! :]
Be sure to check out Bahi’s homepage here for more of his animation and illustration work.
Some great artbooks from illustrators/artists discussed in this article :