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Animation History Illustration

An Exhibition Unearths Rare Production Drawings from the Futuristic Neo Tokyo of the Anime Classic ‘Akira’

June 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

Akira, cut #1, Final production background detail, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 93 x 53 centimeters. All photos from AKIRA (Movie), based on the graphic novel AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo. First published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd. © MASH • ROOM / AKIRA COMMITTEE, shared with permission

Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 sci-fi classic Akira has had an unparalleled influence on anime and film, and an exhibition at the Tchoban Foundation in Berlin showcases the original drawings that brought its futuristic cyberpunk setting to life. Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo features 59 production backdrops, layouts, concepts, and image boards, many of which have never been shown publicly. The collection includes now-iconic works by art director Toshiharu Mizutani and collaborators Katsufumi Hariu, Norihiro Hiraki, Shinji Kimura, Satoshi Kuroda, Hiromasa Ogura, Hiroshi Ōno, Hajime Soga, Tsutomu Uchida, and Takashi Watabe.

Otomo first released the dystopian story as a manga series in 1982 before turning it into the highly influential action film a few years later. The narrative follows characters Shōtarō Kaneda, the telekinetic Tetsuo Shim, and their friends, who navigate the imagined Japanese metropolis of Neo Tokyo with its neon streetlights, crumbling infrastructure, and unrelenting post-apocalyptic vibe.

Ahead of the exhibition, curator Stefan Riekeles also released the book Anime Architecture: Imagined Worlds and Endless Megacities. The volume contains fantastic scenes from various animated classics including Ghost in the Shell and Metropolis. You can see Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo through September 4, and according to It’s Nice That, the show might travel to London next.

 

Akira, pattern no. 182, final production background, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 55 x 42 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 2211, final production background, Hiroshi Ohno, poster color on paper, 50 x 36 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 2204, picture board, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 25 x 35 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 700, final production background Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 26 x 37 centimeters

Akira, pattern no. 214, final production background, Toshiharu Mizutani, poster color on paper, 25.5 x 37 centimeters

 

 

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Animation

The Endearing ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ Returns with a Feature-Length Mockumentary

April 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

An adorable little shell with one googly eye, pink shoes, and a charming sense of humor is back in the limelight this summer. Announced this week, a feature-length mockumentary from A24 will follow the iconic “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” whose debut stop-motion short directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp was a viral sensation a decade ago when it garnered myriad awards, prompted two sequels, and spurred an illustrated book.

Once again voiced by actress Jenny Slate, the quirky character is found living with his grandmother Connie and pet lint Alan. Their life involves watching hours of 60 Minutes, gardening a tiny window box, occupying tiny treehouses designed by Jedediah Corwyn Voltz (previously), and now, searching for their long-lost family following a mysterious tragedy. Watch the heartwarming trailer above, and find “Marcel the Shell with the Shoes On” in theaters on June 24. (via Uncrate)

 

 

 



Art Documentary Photography

Paper & Glue: A New Documentary Follows JR Through Some of His Most Iconic Projects

December 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

A new feature-length documentary goes behind the scenes with French artist JR to capture some of his most significant projects to date, including his poignant photographic work of a child peering over the U.S./Mexico border wall and pair of installations at a maximum-security prison in Tehachapi, California. Paper & Glue follows the renowned artist through the evolution of his practice from early graffiti days to his current undertakings—his anamorphic work at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi earlier this year and his illusory transformation of the Louvre courtyard in 2019 are both evidence of his growth—that are increasingly massive in scope and impact and often shine a light on humanitarian issues.

“The film is the culmination of years of my work and includes an archive of photography and videos
that span back to my adolescence. At the time of many of these recordings, I had no intention or awareness they could be used in this way,” JR says. “
I hope this film further uplifts the essentiality of art and the potential it holds to reshape even our most ingrained beliefs.

Paper & Glue is currently in theaters around the U.S. and premieres on December 10 on MSNBC.

 

 

 



Colossal

Interview: Chicago’s Manual Cinema Reveals How Its Shadow Puppets Became a Defining Feature of the New ‘Candyman’

September 7, 2021

Christopher Jobson

Having already made box-office history, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman (2021) is deeply rooted in Chicago’s history as it not only critically considers racial violence and the city’s problems with gentrification but also draws in local artists, like the prolific and talented team behind the performance collective Manual Cinema. In a new interview supported by Colossal Members, editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson talks with co-artistic director Drew Dir about the studio’s role in the cult classic horror film, from the production process to using a traditionally lighthearted medium to convey such complex and traumatic stories:

By telling those stories through shadow puppetry, which is about as far from naturalism or realism as you can get, I think that gave (DaCosta) a way to represent that legacy of violence but also filter it through the critical lens of metaphor. The puppets allow the viewer to keep a critical distance (that’s something that puppets historically have been very good at!) and to consider the historical and social forces at play, so the viewer doesn’t lose themself in too much repulsion or fascination with blood and gore.

In the conversation, Dir discusses the unprecedented process of using shadow puppets as a major component of a blockbuster live-action film, experimenting with the technical limits of the medium, and what the studio is working on next.

 

 

 

 



Documentary Photography Science

A Short Film Dives into the 15-Year Process Behind the Documentary ‘Fantastic Fungi’

September 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

We shared footage of the mesmerizing mycelium networks pulsing underneath our feet back in 2019 to mark the opening of Louie Schwartzberg’s Fantastic Fungi, and now the dedicated director takes viewers behind the scenes to show his painstaking process. Filmed throughout a 15-year period in his home studio, Schwartzberg’s timelapses zero in on myriad spores as they burst open, sprawl in every direction, and morph in color and texture. They’re a compelling visual representation of time and nature’s cyclical processes, which he explores in a new short film produced by WIRED.

Most of the challenges in capturing the footage center around predicting where an organism will grow to keep it within the shot and understanding the frame rates of different lifeforms. Schwartzberg explains:

For example, a mosquito on your arm, having a little drop of blood, takes a look at that hand coming towards it in ultra slow motion and has plenty of time to take off because its metabolic rate, its lifespan, is way shorter than our lifespan. And our lifespan is way shorter than a Redwood tree’s lifespan. This reality of real-time human point of view is not the only point of view, and that’s really the beauty of cameras and time-lapse cinematography. It’s actually a time machine.

Watch the full making-of above—note that it does include a clip of a mouse decomposing near the end—and find Fantastic Fungi on Netflix. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Documentary

Footsteps: How an Isolated Artificial Home in Ontario Produces Sound for Myriad Blockbuster Films

May 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

A modest house nestled into the bucolic countryside of Uxbridge, Ontario, is home to a premier sound facility behind an impressive array of films, TV series, and video games. Brimming with an eclectic collection of objects and antiques, Footsteps Studio has aided in the post-production audio effects for projects like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Big Short, and The Handmaid’s Tale all generated by a small team on the unassuming grounds.

In a short documentary, director Jeremy Benning tours the workspace— each room of the house functions as a recording studio and is insulated by an elaborate outer wall engineered to act as a buffer from outdoor noises—and speaks with three Foley artists responsible for enhancing audio experiences following filming. Benning goes behind the scenes with the company to demonstrate the laborious snd surprising methods used to artificially intensify the sound effects, whether as the clatter of a skateboard, the gnashing of a zombie feast, or the deviously subtle clip-clop of high-heeled shoes.

Watch the full documentary above to see more of the unusual techniques behind some of today’s most iconic productions. (via Short of the Week)