Apr 07, 2021
3 mins read
Interview & Writing: Ryusuke Hikawa
Previous article (3/8)
Narrowing down by color instead of special effects
You've been adding cell staining to "Eva" for a long time, and it's very distinctive. I think the special effects have changed since it went digital. What do you think about that?
Since the time of the first Gainax work, "Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise", staff members who are not specialists in special effects, such as Mr. Anno and Shoichi Masuo, have been directly smudging the cels with markers. I think this is one of the characteristics of Gainax's works, and it helps to create a unique world view.
However, with the introduction of digital technology, the cels are no longer an object, so it's harder to do. If you try to do it yourself, you have to be able to use the image processing software as if it were your own hands and feet to achieve the same thing. I had to decide what to do with the special effects again this time. If I didn't do that, I wondered if it would still be Evangelion.
This time, Shoichi Masuo did a great job, and I'm impressed by how well some of the digitalization was done, but I'm not sure how the parts where not much work was done will look. However, for that reason, for example, the advances in photography I mentioned earlier, or the increased number of colors that can be used to specify colors, can be pursued more than in the cell, so if we can make up for that, maybe we don't need to make those changes in the first place. Maybe I don't need to add texture special effects to every cut like I used to, but I can create more of a sense of presence with just the cell colors.
As you can see from the interview with Kazuko Kikuchi, this time Anno was standing next to Kikuchi all the time, working endlessly on color specifications. That's what happens when you do digital work.It was the same for me when I was working on FLCL. I'd be standing next to the color designer all the time, and I'd want to adjust the colors in every cut.
This must be Anno's first time making a digital animation. When he was working on "Re: Cutie Honey", he was in the position of a general director, so he didn't have much hands-on experience. This time, when he tried it for the first time, I think he was already enjoying the digital process.
With celluloid, I had to adjust the color of the shadows for each cut and reinforce them with special effects in order to bring out the texture. When I see something that has just come out of the painting, I think, "Hmm, that's not good enough." and then I add a touch. And it's not the special effects experts who do that, but the director or director who uses markers to smudge it. But I can only work on it in the direction of making it darker. The same thing can be done by adding shadows and lightening in the color specification stage to tighten up the image. Just by doing that, I think the finished image will be completely different.
Kikuchi said that it was also difficult to specify the colors to replace the celluloid paints with digital ones.
If you want to bring the colors together in a more sophisticated way, there are already many examples of this. The style of making the image look high quality by suppressing the saturation and brightness to make it look austere has been established. But Anno doesn't go in that direction. He wants to use flashy colors, but not look cheap. In order to do that, I think there are not enough samples yet. We have to create our own, with Kikuchi at the lead.