(This article is written in English and Mandarin Chinese, scroll down for the Chinese version. 中文请往下滑。)
If you haven’t seen it already, the three-minute self-distributed animation short film, “Puparia”, has gained applause and 1.5 million reviews on YouTube since its release on November 20, 2020. Many would say “Puparia” is a stunning piece of art packed with tremendous emotions where the characters’ expressions feel alive to the viewers. Indeed, this frame-by-frame hand-drawn short animation is packed with mysterious scenes that took its creator, Shingo Tamagawa, three years of dedication to make from scratch.
Why Three Year for Three Minutes?
I have always loved Pixar movies (paying my respect to Pete Doctor!) and I’d be devastated if the Pixar animation Soul is overlooked by the Academy Awards this year. In 1995, Pixar permanently changed the entire animation industry by introducing to the world the first full-blown and successful computer-generated-imagery (CGI) animation Toy Story. Compared to CGI animations, traditional hand-drawn animations require a lot more manpower and time to make. To put this in perspective, Studio Ghibli is known for creating the best hand-drawn animations in the industry, and, with about 300 employees, it took the studio one month to finish a 15-minute scene in the film Princess Mononoke.
For other animations, there should be at least 24 frames per second for the fluidity to be satisfactory. Based on these numbers, when Tamagawa decided to make Puparia by himself, he was looking at thousands of hand-drawn frames on top of everything else in the animation production pipeline – character design, storyboard, directing and adjusting, music synchronization, etc. Three years doesn’t seem too long for a one-man band. In fact, Tamagawa dedicated all of his time and used his personal savings over the three years to support this passion project.
CGIs are much easier to generate by computers and are usually in the highest image resolution. To compete with CGI animations, the creation process of traditional hand-drawn animations has to be more efficient and economically viable. Whilst not everyone appreciates the art behind hand-drawn frames, traditional animations are usually more personal and intimate works of art that engrave creators’ emotions towards the world. (If you need a whole team to draw countless frames for a story, it better be really good.)
In the documentary and YouTube video “Shingo Tamagawa - Three Minutes, Three Years: Making Puparia”, Tamagawa explains why Puparia has to be independent. Tamagawa had a “strong feeling that the values shaping our world were gradually fading away” and “things we used to rely on and related to were starting to collapse” so at times, we “couldn’t be ourselves anymore.” It is true that the economic pressure has put weight against traditional animations. Many traditional animations are now tailored to viewers’ taste, which forms a subtle culture where creators won’t “express something they like without shame.”
In Tamagawa’s opinion, which I concur, an animator’s mindset shouldn’t be to make the process “more efficient and easier” but to “pursue something more beautiful that has never been seen before” and to “generate new emotions have never been felt before,” therefore, in the long run, “it will have the commercial potential.” It echoes Hayao Miyazaki’s way of creation – bringing craftsmanship and perfection in exactly his visions to make us feel those forgotten and deep emotions. Without a supporting team like Studio Ghibli, Tamagawa had to start his creation by doing it passionately and independently.
Tips for Independent filmmaking
With a workable budget, an independent project allows its creator to be a perfectionist and to express the specific things that are personally meaningful. During the process, many independent creators would also grow rapidly by learning all the ins and outs of the industry.
Conversely, creators should be mindful of the risks involved in making completely independent work. The top concern is a burnout financially and personally. If you work part-time or full-time to support a project, it would be better to implement a routine. One should also avoid using any company equipment (including computers) in creating independent work. This way, the company would not have a claim to the copyright of such independent work. Another substantial risk is that, without a budget to promote the project, independent work might get completely ignored by the public. If this is a relevant issue, the creator could submit the work to film festivals and start networking. Or, one could try to gain social media attention for the project before pitch to bigger distribution platforms, such as Netflix. It also could be a challenge for some independent creators in terms of project management and time management, especially if the workload is heavy. With the nature of uncertainty in making independent films and animations, it takes perseverance, hard work and planning to finish a project.
At last, good news for dear New Yorkers, movie theaters are finally allowed to reopen on March 5th, less than one week from now and 15 days before Oscar® nominations come out. Excited?
[动画] 独立动画《 Puparia》和动画家Shingo Tamagawa
如果您还没有看过这部3分钟的自发动画短片《 Puparia》（蛹梦），自2020年11月20日发布以来，它在YouTube上赢得了掌声和150万条点击量。许多人会说“ Puparia”是一部令人叹为观止的艺术品，充满了深邃的栩栩如生的情感。的确，这个逐帧的手绘短动画充满了神秘的场景，其创造者 Shingo Tamagawa更是花了整整三年的时间去完成这部3分钟的短片。
我一直都很喜欢皮克斯（Pixar）的电影（致敬Pete Doctor！），如果皮克斯的动画电影《灵魂》被今年的奥斯卡金像奖忽略，我会感到震惊。 1995年，皮克斯通过向世界推出了第一个成熟且成功的计算机生成图像（CGI）动画《玩具总动员》，永久地改变了整个动画行业。与CGI动画相比，传统的手绘动画需要更多的人力和时间来制作。从这个角度来看，吉卜力工作室（Studio Ghibli）以制作业内最佳的手绘动画而闻名，拥有约300名员工，而电影《幽灵公主》中一个15分钟的场景却需要吉卜力工作室花了一个月的时间才能完成。
对于其他动画，每秒至少应有24帧才能使画面流动性令人满意。基于这些数字，当Tamagawa决定自己制作Puparia时，他需要手绘至少几千帧画面，还要着手于动画制作的每一个环节 – 角色设计，情节提要，导演，后期调整，音乐同步等。对于一个单干的人来说，三年似乎并不长。实际上，Tamagawa花了三年内所有的时间并用个人积蓄来支撑这个激情项目。
在纪录片和YouTube视频《Shingo Tamagawa - Three Minutes, Three Years: Making Puparia》中，Tamagawa解释了为什么《 Puparia》必须独立制作。Tamagawa 感到“我们原有的世界价值观正在逐渐消失”，并且“我们过去所依赖的相关的事物也开始崩溃”，所以有时，我们“不再是我们自己”。经济压力的确使传统动画受到了重压。现在，许多传统动画都是为了赢取观众的喜好而量身定制。这形成了一种微妙的文化，即创作者不会“无耻地表达自己喜欢的东西”。
我同意Tamagawa的观点，动画师的心态不应该是使过程“更高效，更容易”，而应该去“追求前所未有的更美丽的事物”并“使观众产生从未有过的新情感”。因此，从长远来看，这样的作品“将具有商业潜力。”它与宫崎骏的创作方式相呼应 – 宫崎骏的作品准确的表达了作者的意愿，并用精湛的手绘工艺和完美的故事使我们感受到那些被遗忘的和更深刻的情感。然而，没有像吉卜力工作室这样的团队支撑，Tamagawa必须以热情而独立的方式开始创作。
Silvia Sun, Esq.
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