Orange Presents: Studio Panel – Anime Expo 2022

After showing everything they had available at the Trigun Stampede panel, Orange mentioned upfront that they had no announcements. Yoshihiro Watanabethe host of the panel, transparently prefaced the introduction to make the audience aware that the panel is just to learn more about Orange as a studio.

Starting with a brief introduction with the panelists, Kiyotaka Waki (producer of Land of the Lustrous), said he would also share the steps that go into making an Orange anime. The inception of Orange as a studio started with CEO, Eiji Inomoto animating all by himself. He started on Zoids CG animation. A surprising fact about this is that he bikes everyday just to make anime. Apparently, he limits his diet to just making anime as long as he can.

What started off as a one-man show turned into a 120-employee studio. Inomoto bought a $30,000 CG animation program by himself, for some reason, after watching Pixar’s Toy Story. After that, he wanted to be a manga artist, so he worked as an assistant for a Shonen Jump series but “went crazy,” so he stopped.

Waki disclosed that the facial motion capture for Land of the Lustrous was done entirely by Inomoto. “All 22 characters were all motion captured by our CEO. Hope that didn’t break anyone’s dreams,” Waki ​​apologized. Producer Waki ​​was fascinated by the possibilities of CGI animation, which became the reason why he started working at the company and brought Watanabe with him. There were only 17 people working on Land of the Lustrous at the time.

Watanabe shared that Orange has been working with a lot of hand drawn animation studios, blending it in CG, and adapting that to the studio’s style. He put a word cloud slide together, and noted the big ones are the ones Orange worked on solo with some small partnerships, and the smaller titles were ones where Orange only played a small role in animating.

“I came to Studio Orange to produce Land of the Lustrous. At the time, I only knew 2D animation but not 3D animation,” shared Waki.

Due to time limitations, Watanabe could only show a small bit of his slideshow on each and every staff member’s role. For example, the modeler/riggers were responsible for the hair of the gems in Land of the Lustrous. He explained the models move so smoothly because they storyboard the scenes and there’s an animator adjusting the motion. They have artists who hand draw backgrounds, but the characters have to keep a silhouette to fit with the background. There’s a deep negotiation between departments: what kind of silhouettes to keep, show hand drawn sketches to modelers, then bring it to the animators. Then the animators will ask “Do you know how hard it is to animate flapping things?” Each department has their own perspective on how to bring the drawing to life.

As Watanabe showed a turnaround of Legosi, he called it the “microwave” effect as the model does a 360-degree rotation. Other interesting highlights included the visual effects team. In a clip from IDOLiSH7‘s MV for Mr.AFFECTiON, the artists program light drones to make them suitable to the settings. Modelers want to make effects have motions, and have a storytelling element, which is what makes Orange‘s team special.

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In a slide titled, “New challenges: giving birth to animation,” they showed storyboards from BEASTARS and how the process is the same as hand drawn animation. Acting, camera movement, etc. are a blueprint of the animation they’re putting together. The storyboards are how the directors translate their vision to the rest of the team. For regular TV series, it’s typical to draw storyboards, but for theatrical or a special animation, the teams will draw onto the storyboards to add more detail.

As they bring an example of Cinnabar’s hair animation, Waki ​​talks through how they experiment with the movement. They had four examples of hair would be animated. If it’s too realistic flowing, it doesn’t look at smooth. They’ll repeat the process until there’s a version that embodies their vision.

“Illustrating people was the most difficult thing to do. For the Gems, you have characters that look like people. There’s a little bit of definition that can be loosened,” said Waki. “We start losing the convincing factor as we get more realistic. We do experiments and models to figure out the best medium. If we try to account for every single hair, you actually end up losing details,” added Watanabe.

Prior to COVID, they would have voice actors come in and do recording based on rough animation and storyboards were done. They would do a post-recording, where they have a storyboard and then have the voice actors do the recording. “We had actors in the room had to grab each other or sit on towels on the ground if they were having an intimate scene.” Watanabe shared that the next time someone watches BEASTARS“They should imagine the voice actor of Louis (Yuki Ono) picking up Legosi (Chikahiro Kobayashi) in that scene. It was funny given their height difference.”

Then they moved into a short talk about their short film, Home! The project is up on their YouTube and it was the culmination of a lot of their tests for Trigun Stampede. Although Trigun is set in a different planet and HOME is set on Mars, which is like the terrain of Badlands, but the two series not using the same assets. “It’s more so we could experiment.”

In the “Color Designs and Character Designs for Home!” section, Watanabe shared that the humans in Home! is what they “wanted to accomplish in Trigun Stampede.” But of course, for Trigun Stampede, it became a lot more work than what they produced for Home! “Shadows is one of the biggest things that we focus on. Weirdness in shadows causes the uncanny valley, so if the shadow is not natural, it won’t accomplish what we want,” said Watanabe. For example, in Trigun StampedeCEO Inomoto was drawing over those shadows for two weeks.

On cue, they re-played the trailer for Trigun Stampede shown during their specific panel. “As Nightow mentioned, right now is not the time to reveal everything about the new Trigun,” as Watanabe pivoted to Waki ​​to talk more about Orange‘s upcoming work. “Just like in Land of the Lustrous and BEASTARSwe’ve taken everything we’ve learned, and bring that crystalize that into the production of Trigun Stampede.”

“In the PV you saw, it was quite short, so you don’t get most expensive view of what it’ll look like. There was a lot of incredible action and things that came together. The show is going to be much more exciting and cooler when the music comes together,” revealed Waki.

Unfortunately, there was no time for audience Q&A, but the panelists would like to come back to Anime Expo next year. Orange did not have space to chat, but encouraged fans to speak to them if they see them in the hallways.

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