Schmaltzy song, maybe, but I like the technique in this short (3 min) animation, and the way it leaves hints of the scaffolding in place:
I’ve long been interested in the scaffolding. And it’s pretty easy to get a close look at the scaffolding behind anime.
As everyone knows, back in the day, anime (and animation) fans would collect cels from their favorite cartoons. There was something (literally) awesome in holding a piece of a show you love. It’s especially nice if you know the episode and the scene, and nicer still if you get the background as well.
or get the drawing that is the basis for the cel:
Even though these are likely the work of some anonymous animator, and never touched by Akiyuki Shinbo, they still contain a little magic.
Those days are gone with the acetate sheets the artists used.
Now everything is done on computer, with only the roughest sketches committed to paper, which are scanned, then cleaned up on the computer.
The upside is that there are so many of these drawings done, and they’re so disposable, that you can find them for a fraction of the price that cels used to command. Also, I imagine the money is more likely to end up in the hands of actual underpaid animators and not people who stole the cels from the studios.
They’re so cheap, sometimes you can get a bunch of them from the same scene:
You don’t even have to haunt con dealer’s rooms or auction places: in Japan they also publish the story-boards of many films (and sometimes even entire TV series like Evangelion) as books.
I first sought out the Eva storyboards because I wanted to see if, or how, the shows changed from their original conception to their actual execution (a meaningful exercise after the original video release, rendered a bit moot by the various directors’ cuts, which restored the missing footage).
I wish they’d done that for Serial Experiments: Lain (they did publish the script for the series — it’s even still in print).
Something I’d like to get (but they were only released as part of limited edition releases of his films, and were beyond my budget) are Satoshi Kon’s storyboards, which are stunningly detailed:
Good heavens — he did this for the entire film (and these pages are actually relatively skimpy on the details).
Most of the Ghibli works have storyboard collections that are readily available (in some cases, you can watch the entire film in storyboard form).
For Ponyo, Miyazaki went all-out:
Usually his storyboards only have one or two colors.
You used to be able to get Nadesico: Prince of Darkness in the form of two CDs containing the entire soundtrack (voices and sound-effects, not just background music), plus a volume of the storyboards. It was oddly fun to “watch” the movie, turning the pages of the storyboard volume while listening to the actors.
The Ghibli films also have The Art of… series, with production sketches and concept art — but not enough of it. The Art of Nausicaa is the best of those, I think, because it contains several sketches of Miyazaki’s early concepts for Nausicaa and her world. It still leaves me wanting more. The magazine Animage used to publish special issues for series and films, called “Roman albums” (I don’t know why). Those also often had lots of early concept sketches. Books like that still come out. These also have another form of scaffolding that’s still inaccessible to me — lengthy interviews of the artists and directors talking about how they approached building the films. Someday I’ll read Japanese well enough to make my way through them.