Steamboy Studios in Ogikubo, Tokyo. Previously the workplace for Otomo Katsuhiro’s Steamboy crew, its now home to the Freedom Committee team.

Nov 20th 2006

Today the entire Freedom Committee team bugged out of the office earlier for our ( 3 newcomers, including myself ) welcome party. Certainly its but a good excuse for everyone to get sloshed but the Japanese do take their drinking very seriously !
The lowermost photograph just above this text shows ( from L to R ), Matsui-san, my lighting, rendering and compositing chief, next Morita-san, director of Freedom Project, and Sajiki-san, whom together with Morita-san were the genius minds behind Kakurenbo, the award winning short animation film.

With Freedom 1 releasing on the 24th this month and its preorders hitting the number one spot ( beating Stand Alone Complex, yeah ! ) on many Japanese websites I suppose there’s reason for some celebration afterall. Next stop, Freedom 2.

Nov 16th 2006
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Get yours today.

Nov 12th 2006

Some cool stuff that comes along with work on Freedom Project : 1) My email address is myname@steamboy.net, which I am more than ok with; 2) Otomo ( yes, the dude who created that somewhat famous animation Akira ) came by the studio yesterday, tying up some loose ends on a new animation film soon to be released. His work desk by the way, is really untidy…ha.

Here at Sunrise Studios Ogikubo work has commenced on episode 2 of Freedom, with epsiode 1 scheduled for dvd release later this month. Today as the entire Freedom team sat down with the director to run through the storyboard it dawned on me that I was the only foreigner working on Freedom. I wonder if I should feel hououred or alienated, perhaps a bit of both. Its no mistake however that my companions are some of the most talented animators here in Japan, many of whom have worked on Otomo’s Steamboy; my animation “supervisor” is a kid 21 years old.

So…back to work.

Nov 3rd 2006
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Browsing through a dvd shop in Shinjuku this evening I was pleasantly surprised to see Freedom Previsited soldout only a day after its release; I suspect the same to happen for Series one , slated for a late November release. Order yours today from Amazon Japan ! Haha. I was thinking wishfully that perhaps I might be entitled to a free copy when I start work but I ordered one anyway to boost Freedom Committee’s sales. What’s left to do is just the anxious wait for Otomo to pop by the studio…

Oct 29th 2006

Blue Skies.

Oct 18th 2006

The year was 1989. I was on a usual weekend family visit to my grandparents place. It was totally mundane and largely routine; we would always arrive in the mid afternoon, have dinner prepared by my grandmother, and then head home around 9 or 10 o’clock. But something that would transpire that evening made it an unforgettable day etched forever in my memory. My youngest uncle, whom me and my brother liked immensely because of his huge collection of Japanese comics and cartoons, was once again poised to impress us with his latest acquisitions. Popping the laserdisc ( I still remember vividly those huge and cumbersome laserdiscs, awkward by today’s standards but state of the art then ) into the player as the film started, the television screen was filled by the image of a huge and hulking crater, as a bold red title appeared.

The film was Akira. Neither me nor my brother had ever seen anything as devastatingly powerful and at once shocking; indeed, few animation films past and present can challenge the sheer awe and depth of this groundbreaking animation masterpiece. I was immediately hooked; I must have lived and breathed Akira for years to come, watching the film countless times and poring over the comics, its imaginative and detail artwork the stuff I wish I could one day, if even just a tiny percentage of that beauty, recreate.

Fast forward 17 years into the future, I am now 27 and on a film scholarship here in Tokyo, Japan. Its a cold October evening and I’m rushing around like a madman in Ogikubo, searching frantically for the studio where I was supposed to attend an interview for a job that should have started 30 minutes ago.

“Where the hell have you been ? Get the f**k outta here, we do not entertain late comers.” These nightmarish thoughts, soon to become reality I figure, flashed over and over again in my mind.

* * *

One hour later. I emerged from the studio, bowing profusely. The director said he liked the work he saw on my website, hopes for me to begin work with them soon.

The name of the studio, stuck nonchalantly on the door, read Steamboy Studios; the name of the assignment that I am soon to embark on : Project Freedom; character designer; Katsuhiro Otomo.

I’m greatly honoured to join the Project Freedom committee, standing on the shoulder of giants. To me, the chance of working on a Otomo Katsuhiro film is nothing short of a dream come true. I live a blessed life, I think.

Here are the 300kbs, 500kbs, and 1Mbs previews of Freedom.

Oct 14th 2006

In an era when most folks are eagerly abandoning those mouldy film cameras for their sparkling, high tech digital counterparts I seem to be taking a journey in the opposite direction, shooting on my 2nd hand Mamiya 645 medium format camera. Been an absolute sucker for rich, intense tones and that inexplicable warmth of celluloid my Mamiya delivers, and then some. Certainly, digital is here to stay and I adore my Nikon D70s, but for that classy age old look that is film, I’ll still put my trust in those spiffy silver halides. Big thanks to Takeshi for scanning the negs.



Oct 8th 2006
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Some screengrabs off my recently completed graduation film project “Umi no Namida” ( Tears of the Sea ), where I tripled as cameraman/cinematography, storyboard artist, as well as editor. For any filmmaker there’s always the indescribable rush of excitment and pleasure as one watches the film take shape slowly during the editing stage, so I guess those all-nighters hadn’t gone to waste.




Sep 23rd 2006
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Kyoto/Osaka/Nara trip – Quite simply in two words; beauty and tranquilty. Think breathtaking shrines and temples, and then some.




Sep 5th 2006

Some production photos from the locations of my final year film project. More updates coming soon.

Aug 9th 2006
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A recent 16mm film shoot filling up 2 weekends have had me appreciate the value of sleep in a way I had not since the army days; let’s hope at least the rushes turn out decent. As we wrap up things on this shoot preproduction starts for my final year project, in between a serious and earnest lookout for a job opening here in Tokyo. Amidst these hustling events just as I am about to lose sense of all time and purpose an appropriately timed present from my Korean sharemate ushers me back to one of my most cherished creative inspiration; a book procured from a 2nd hand book store; a Iwai Shunji’s Love Letter photobook, for less than 1.50 singapore dollars. To me, its true worth can hardly ever be calculated.

Jun 20th 2006
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