With the bulk of work for Freedom 3 completed there is finally some time to catch my breath before the rush sets in again when Freedom’s TV commercial postpro starts, and not till that is finished may I, there are rumours abound, get a week off work. I think I’m just going to sprout wings and fly straight out of the studio when that actually happens.

Anyway. I was fairly thrilled yesterday to recieve Abe-san’s signature on my Jinroh Boxset ( see pic below ) ; its always been one of my favourite animation films since watching it a full 8 years ago at the Singapore Film Festival. Abe-san, who was previously from IG and had also worked on GITS SAC, commented she too was a newbie when she joined Jinroh’s production. ( she’s now the colour designer for Freedom project. )

Outside work I also finished my 2 year film school at Toho Gakuen, here’s a photo at the graduation ceremony with my classmate from Shanghai, ( he tells me the animation studio that made Monkey God and Nezha is just right behind his house, s**t. ) we had quite a time shooting our graduation film together. See this post.

That’s all the updates for now I think. Its spring in Tokyo. I need a break !

Mar 19th 2007

I’ve just gotten word from my chief Matsui-san that we will be working on the fifth installment of Freedom Project’s television commercial which will be aired Japanwide. The past 4 spots have been done by our friends from Production IG ( Ghost In the Shell folks ) because we had to concentrate on the actual animation series. The theme song for the commercial by the way, is Utada Hikaru’s latest single released just last week, The Flavor of Life, cover picture below.

We have been working straight 15 hour days here at Sunrise rushing the deadline for Freedom 3 and barely have enough time to take a piss, but this is exciting news, well, at least to a huge Utada fan.

Mar 6th 2007
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Designs for 2 separate full page ad spreads now appearing in various Japan magazines for the release of Freedom II, marvel comics style. Sajiki-san, our most talented illustrator, referenced old copies of Akira graphic novels previously published by Epic comics and emulated a smilar inking style. Sweet.

Feb 17th 2007
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The ending credits for Freedom. That’s me right there ! See it ? No ?

My apologies…i’m just this excited little bloke.

Feb 13th 2007

Cover art for Freedom 2 dvd.

Jan 24th 2007

Sitting in for a preview screening of Freedom 2 with the rest of my colleagues yesterday I was engulfed by a pang of surreality watching the scenes I had so painstakingly lighted for the past 2 months materialize in its final, finished form, complete with background art and effects. Calculating the number of shots I was assigned, I must have lighted about 1/4 of the entire episode, the rest covered by my chief Matsui-san and some minor scenes subbed out to other studios.

Later in the evening at Freedom 2’s celebration party I had a chat with the director Morita-san, where I was told more and more challenging scenes will be assigned to me from Freedom 3 onwards. That simply translates as reduced sleeping hours, non existent weekends, a constant sophorific state. Heck, bring it on I say.

Freedom 2 will hit the stores from Febuary 22th and is available for preorder from Amazon here.

Jan 23rd 2007
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I swear, after watching Zack Snyder’s dizzyingly intense trailer for his film 300 I almost wanted to leap out of that weary cubicle seat of my, hunt down the nearest gym and sign up for 2 lifetime memberships to start working out some serious abs. Well, almost, until the thoughts of Jiro ramen ( the biggest, baddest ramen you’ll ever eat ) for lunch wafted my mind, certainly something as satisfying as having beautiful abs, though somewhat significantly easier to accomplish. Speaking of which, California Fitness Club should definitely do a tie-in with this film, and I bet they’ll see their membership numbers shoot right through the roof.

In any case, an eagerly awaited film. And when is medieval Japan’s release date for this ? Check it; June 2007, a full 3 months behind the entire universe, so lengthy a time I could have worked out leaner abs than Gerald Butler by the time it hits Japan shores. I just need to get Jiro out of my head.

Jan 17th 2007
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I’ve got all three bikes parked in my garage, had them shined this morning too.

All Illustrations by Sajiki-san, our character and concept designer, whose usually serious and calm demeanour vanishes inexplicably to be replaced by loud, gregarious laughs and silly antics everytime he gets into a conversation with Matsui-san, my lighting chief, who oddly enough displays the same affliction. Crazy folks.

Yesterday we were handed the storyboard for Freedom 3, which promises more action scenes than both 1 and 2 put together. I can’t wait to see the finished product, but with significantly more shots than Freedom 2, it simply means more time in front of my workstation for the next 2 months or so.

Jan 11th 2007

Those were some screencaps off the 4th 30 second spot for Freedom now playing on Japanese television. You can also catch it streaming from the official Freedom website here.

Happy New Year folks !

Jan 2nd 2007
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Films Retrospect 2006

Total tally for films watched in 2006 stands at 28 in theatres and 96 on dvds, making that 124 in all ( Click here to see the entire list ), down from 178 in 2005. This decline is largely due to a full 5 month hiatus from summer as I got bogged down by my film project and job search. Here are my top 10 favourite films viewed in 2006, in no particular merit.

1)Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright)
2)Munich (Spielberg)
3)Children of Men (Alphonso Cuaron)
4)Proof (John Madden)
5)Crash (Paul Haggis)
6)The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles)
7)Wallace and Gromit : Curse of the Wererabbit (Steve Box/Nick Park)
8)Planet Earth (Documentary, David Attenborough)
9)Paprika (Kon Satoshi)
X)Matchpoint (Woody Allen)

It is regrettable my access to the latest films are always at least 4 to 6 months behind the living world due to Japan’s inexplicable slow release system, which I am more than resigned to having been here for almost 3 years. Notably Korean and Japanese films are missing from my favourites as there hadn’t been any winners like Tony Takitani last year. I hope to catch The Host soon. A few other notable films I enjoyed were Lord of War by Andrew Niccol, I’ve been his fan ever since Gattaca; Team America World Police, Jarhead, and A History of Violence. I think the worst film of 2006 had got to be Eragon.

With that, here’s to a bountiful year ahead for film watching !

Jan 2nd 2007

Its 6 weeks into work here at Freedom Committee and I continue to be astounded by the animation giants that surround me. ( I am composing this post in a rare studio moment where work stands still for a second while waiting for lighting jobs to come in. ) For starters, my effects chief Yamaura-san, a nice lady who offered us delicious croissants last week, worked on Morimoto’s Noiseman Sound Insect, as well as Glay’s Survival 2D, a piece very personal to me because I first saw it as an animation student 8 years ago and which had a very big influence on my final year animation project. Then there’s Abe-san, the colour designer, who addresses me as kou-chan, worked on Jinroh The Wolf Brigade and Watabe-san, the background artist and mecha designer, whose credits include Ghost in the Shell 1 & 2, Patlabor 2, Nausicaa, and of course, Akira. The list continues. I’m pretty microscopic around here, a tiny microbe stuck on a speck of dust.

Ok, back to work…

Dec 13th 2006
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Working 12 hour days is becoming the norm as the deadline for Freedom 2 draws closer, and with the animators finishing up their scenes work is piling up as they get passed on to us for lighting and rendering. Just last friday we had first look at the 30 second spot for Freedom 2 that will be up on Japan TV soon, and it feels great to be involved in a project that is always on air, at least for the better part of the next 2 years until Freedom Project concludes with episode 7. Crunch time has barely started.

I’ve not had any decent chance to watch films the past few months, but with me settling down pretty comfortably at work now I really want to make up for lost time. Its time to get back to the source.

Dec 10th 2006
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