Interview & Writing: Ryusuke Hikawa

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Evangelion:1.0 CRC interview, Kazuya Tsurumaki #2 (Working on remembering 'Eva's grammar')

We can go further and explore the nuances of color with digital photography.

Interviewer

I'd like to ask you about the making of the film, but did you participate in the location scouting?

Tsurumaki

Mr. Anno has started to do location scouting more often, and a small group of us would go out on a quick trip just for a certain cut. I participated in about two or three of them, especially the ones in Hakone. We took aerial shots around Lake Ashinoko with a helicopter. I also went to the Keiyo substation in Chiba. I'm very reluctant to go out, so before I go there, I sometimes think, "I just need pictures," but it's fun to go there. Anno-san is so happy to be there that he flies all over the place. I even thought, "For Anno-san, this is more of a purpose than a location hunting trip." (laughs) I didn't participate, but I also went to the Miyagase Dam.

Interviewer

Mr. Tsurumaki, do you take a lot of photos when you are out on location?

Tsurumaki

Of course, location scouting is like going out to take pictures. But in my case, rather than using what I took as material, the photos are just clues to help me recall the atmosphere, and the slope and expanse of a place are things that you can't understand unless you go there. But once you've been there, you'll have to worry about how to visualize it, and whether you'll be able to capture it properly.

For example, in the previous TV series, we went to Hakone to do location scouting before the series started. At that time, I thought, "The ridges of the mountains are really high. Normally, when you draw buildings and then draw mountain ridges and horizons in the open spaces between the buildings, you would draw them low, but in Hakone, they are surprisingly high. That's because the geographical features are more like a basin. I thought I knew this when I drew it, but as I worked on it for a long time, I started to forget it (laughs). I was glad that I was able to remember it once again.

Interviewer

Some of the scenery that you scouted on location, such as telephone poles and buildings, were drawn in celluloid.

Tsurumaki

To begin with, Mr. Anno told me that he wanted to draw the poles and buildings in celluloid because they were characters. There are only two types of anime drawings: those with outlines and those without. Celluloid drawings have outlines, but backgrounds do not. From Anno's point of view, characters should be drawn as if they have outlines, while other things don't have to have outlines, in other words, they should be done with background art. That's why not only telephone poles, but also vending machines and public telephones are all cells, which in Anno's opinion are characters.

He was very particular about the outlines, and wanted to use cells for the buildings from the time of the TV series. However, with the technology of the time, if you drew it in celluloid, it wouldn't really blend in with the background, so I think they gave up on the idea because it would have been too difficult in terms of quality. One of the advantages of using CGI is that you can create a building with outlines that blend in with the background. I thought it would be better that way, too.

Interviewer

Including that, digital technology has been introduced in "Eva" this time, how do you deal with it?

Tsurumaki

For me, shooting digitally is much more important than 3D-CGI. I've been saying this since "GunBuster2", but the fact that I can create images that depict light using digital photography is huge. With celluloid, it was almost impossible to do that, and even though there were techniques such as incident light and transmitted light, they could only be used in a limited way. Now, with digital filming, we can depict the light itself, which I think is a huge step forward.

The glowing green parts of EVA-01 TEST TYPE in the night battle scene of episode 2 were supposed to look like that, but we couldn't do it in the celluloid era. To be more exact, we could do it if we tried, but it required a lot of work and cost. This has been dramatically reduced by digitalization. Even back then, there were ways to do things like multiple exposures and special effects like brushes, but the effects were not as good as the time and effort required.

Thanks to the use of digital technology, there are more colors to choose from and I can tweak them during the shooting process without having to use any safe colors. In the days of celluloid, you had to compromise to a certain extent. For example, if you wanted to draw a skirt with a bit of skin showing on the sides, you had to make the area skin tone, otherwise it wouldn't look like skin. Even if the scene is lit with red lights, the skin part has to be painted symbolically as skin tone, otherwise it won't look like skin. So there was a lot of compromise to ignore the light and keep the skin tone. However, with digital photography and digital coloring, we can go further and explore the nuances of skin tone in red light.

In that sense, who the director of photography is is just as important as the art director or the animation director in the digital world. Eventually, people will say, "I watch this anime just to see the work of this director of photography." With the advent of digital technology, shooting has the potential to grow to that level. I think that the dynamic character portrayal in "Gurren Lagann," which Gainax is currently working on, is a big part of the work, but I'm just as impressed with the hard work of the shooting as with the drawing. I think it's worth watching "Gurren Lagann" just to see that light.

Interviewer

So you're saying that anime is still evolving. That's great to hear.

Tsurumaki

Even if it's something that the shooting team is working hard on at the moment, the art director may come up with another suggestion like, "We'll draw all the light here," or the drawing team may say, "We want to express the texture of the skin better, so we'll draw the highlights of the skin in a separate cell and add something different to it. For example, I want to draw the highlights of the skin in a different cell, and then add something different to it." I think that borderlessness will continue to grow.

Interviewer

In the field of effects, they've already started to use different cells for shooting and processing.

Tsurumaki

Yes, that's right. Just as animators Hisashi Ezura and Mitsuo Iso originally did, I expect that the kind of shooting processing that can only be done by drawing artists by creating different materials will continue to develop. The way Mr. Emura processes the flames and the reflections on the surface of the water are things that can only be done by someone with a very high level of knowledge in the art of drawing. Then there's Makoto Shinkai. I feel that the ability to express the atmosphere of Mr. Shinkai's works has reached a considerable level, including the fact that he takes care of everything until the end.

On the other hand, in general, when you think about the animation industry, it is still difficult to decide how far to go in filming, and we are still in the trial and error stage. This is because it is difficult to determine how far to go in filming, how to make it better, and how to make it worse.

Interviewer

It's true that you can change the color of the art, the paint, and the texture of the special effects in any way you like.

Tsurumaki

That's right. I don't think it's been more than ten years since the industry went completely digital, but the TV industry is finally starting to establish a standard that says, "It's okay to shoot up to this level," and I don't think there are many works yet that are being made with a proactive stance instead of taking it easy. Of course, there are examples of theatrical films such as "BLOOD" and "INNOCENCE". It's just my personal intention, but I'd like to gradually pursue the filming aspect of "Rebuild of Evangelion", and by the time the final work is completed, I'd like it to be recognized by the world as "this is filming animation". Of course, this will require the involvement of the director of photography, Toru Fukushi.

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つづく