Most animations these days are done on digital art programs. Japan is no exception, with the majority being done digitally. But there are still those who hold onto what made them stand out in the animation world.
Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno and his staff at Studio Khara wanted one scene in particular to be animated the old fashioned way in their latest movie, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. Rather than use digital drawings, they were going to use physical drawings, then photograph each cel frame-by-frame using something called an animation shooting table.
Founded in 2006, the studio sought help from the only place that had a shooting table, Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. Studio Khara brought their artwork and timing notes over to Ghibli and borrowed the machine to help them create the scene for Thrice Upon a Time.
The video shows the technician first laying down the background art, then layering the various cels of protagonist Shinji. And yes, that’s cels, plural, as his face/hair and body/clothing are separate pieces of art, since they move independently of each other.
Between each layer, the technician cleans off the artwork with a soft glove and duster, ensuring that not a speck of dirt or other debris are left behind to ruin the shot.
Studio Khara’s tweet mentions that this shooting table is the one and only one that Ghibli has left, hammering home how animation production has pretty much moved on from these techniques. But it’s always nice to see it in use, even if it’s just one scene.
See the process in action in this tweet video:
— (株)カラー 2号機 (@khara_inc2) May 11, 2021