I’m always curious about Japanese motion graphics studios. I know so little about how Asian studios in general are set up, and yet I know there must be loads of amazing work being made. Books like Japanese Motion Graphics Creators are great introductory texts, but due to the seemingly insurmountable language barrier, it’s hard to “discover” work from Asian mograph artists on the net.
Recently I saw “Ukiyo-e,” a short film from Anny Suzuka, a Japanese motion director and founder of ANNY studio. While some of the camera work and transitions were a little jumpy, I thought it was a beautiful short film brimming with wonderful ideas. I wanted to know more about it. Thankfully, a mutual friend connected me with Pasha Alpeyev, who agreed to translate my questions for Anny and the team that worked on the film. Here’s our email conversation:
Was this piece commissioned or did you create it for yourself?
This was purely a pleasure-project, but we are now looking at various options to have it used commercially or in some artistic venue.
Japanese painting obviously was a big influence for the style, but what was the inspiration for the story?
Just to give you some background. Anny and his brother Koji grew up in Kyoto. The city has a unique cultural climate and is one of a few places in Japan that has not been completely rebuilt in the past 20 years, resulting in this nonchalant mix of 500-year old temples, Edo-period samurai estates and Starbucks. It wasn’t until recently that they began to realize how much that upbringing has shaped they artistic sensibilities. So, to put it grandly, this is an exploration of those roots.
More specifically, they aimed at the ukiyoe (woodblock prints) look, but also drew a lot from the use of empty space in suibokuga (Japanese ink painting), kabuki dress and movements in buyo (traditional dance).
How long did it take you to create the project? Did you work alone or with a team?
On and off, they worked on it for about 6 months. Anny and Koji did the vast majority of the design work. Friends in Kyoto did the calligraphy and played the koto. Anny’s girlfriend composed the haiku.
What software did you use to make it?
Maya, After Effects, Photoshop
Do you work as a motion graphics artist in Japan?
We started our own company called A.N.N.Y. about a year ago, doing mostly motion graphics. Anny was a co-founder of a once-popular domestic clothing brand Brotherhood and we are thinking of adding apparel to the company’s business portfolio.
What are you working on now?
Some bread-and-butter projects — a recruitment video for a local IT company; some Maya work for VMJ, they make film that turns regular LCD TVs into 3D displays; and various jobs for Yamaha Motorcycles.
For our next pleasure-project we’d like to get our hands on a high-def camera and see where that takes us.
What do you want to be doing in five years?
In terms of practical ambitions, we want our company to be financially solid, our name to be known in the industry and beyond, and to see all of our talented friends working with us side by side and prospering. In the process, we want to shake things up, create works (not necessarily graphic) that surprise others as well as ourselves and generally be able to look back to 2008 with disbelief at how far we have come.
Credits can be found at the end of the film. Thanks to John Fiorelli for his help with this interview.