Japanese vs western storyboarding!

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Jacob
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Japanese vs western storyboarding!

Post by Jacob » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:08 pm

Hi all! Just want to introduce myself before I start the topic. I'm a danish guy who loves to draw and is finishing highschool this year and then is going to try an get into an animation college.

So anyway, being a huge fan of animation I own the books "The Art of Spirited Away" and "The Art of Ratatouille". And I was flipping the pages, I noticed something quite special.

While Spirited Away only contained sketches by Miyazaki himself (and a few character designs by another person) and all the storyboards were drawn by him, Ratatouille was filled to the brim with sketches and studies from all sorts of people with many unique art styles.

I sat and thought about it, and came to the conclusion that in Studio Ghibli in particular (and perhaps other Japanese studios?) only the director makes decisions, while in Pixar and other such western studios, everybody voices their opinions on all matters at hand.

A couple of weeks later (yesterday actually) I see an interview with Enrico Casarosa on Ghibliworld.com, and what do you know, it sounds like I was rights.

Now here's what the debate is about: Is either of these ways right?

I look at Miyazaki's works and I love them. But they do indeed feature pitfalls, perfectly examplified by the ending of Howl's Moving Castle, which neither respected itself, nor the source-material in anyway. It wasn't just badly written, it was, in absence of a better word: lame. It didn't make sense and smelled far off, of Miyazaki not being able to come up with a satisfeing ending.

It seems to me that these faults could have been avoided, if the storyboarding and such, was a more collaborative experience at Studio Ghibli.

You can see they are able to stay away from these scenes, and I think it's because everybody contributes to the character designs and story. But on the otherhand, Pixar never seems able to reach the same level of personalness as Miyazaki's works. I don't know enough about the inner workings of Pixar to be able to say how stories are made there. But I would venture a guess. I would have to say that a story created and controlled by a single mind, has a far better chance of being focused and with-in the visions of the original mind. Of course, my other guess would be that Pixar is forced to stay with-in the frames of "Disneyeque" movies, where you have funny sidekicks, a complete lack of grittyness (not to say that this is ever needed, but the includence of it in a movie like Spirited Away makes one realise that it can be there without being gory but fitting, even in childrens movies) and natural villains.

So anyway. If looked upon in the way I see the topic, I would have to say that both ways of story making, can be "upgraded", if they want it to.

Hope you'll add your voice!

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jdalton
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Post by jdalton » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:40 pm

Very interesting. I wouldn't presume to know which strategy is better, as I'm not an animator and enjoy movies from both companies (though I would guess that Pixar movies have more personal control on a given project than straight Disney, where movies often seem to have been written by committee).
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Jacob
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Post by Jacob » Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:20 pm

Yeah, it seems obvious these days that while the love of animation is still in all Disney movies, the love of story-telling left them many years ago...

But although it seems Pixar loves their stories more, they still have some Disney guidelines to follow I think. But this could go both ways, seeing as Pixar is completely owned by Disney now, but John Lasseter has more to say now than ever before...

But let's get back on topic^^

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Post by gau dog » Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:59 am

Neither way is a sure fire home run for a better story. They just have different qualities, like you said. An independent show is likely to be more characteristic, unique and a studio run collaborative process is less likely daring and more careful. It really depends on who's behind the scenes running it more than how it's done. Miyazaki's an insane talent. He can get away with his spontaneous storyboards like no other. Even if you see Howl's to be a failure, Miyazaki's been doing things his way for all his movies. Still, at Studio Ghibli, even Miyazaki has producer Suzuki-san breathing down his neck. Pixar and Disney have great talents too. There is a hierarchy, the directors/execs have the final say, yet they've got hits and misses as well.

It's easy to see patterns and tendencies but it's hard to say how "personal" their films really are. After all, it's not like any of us truly know them personally or know what truly motivated them for which parts. I think all these artists draw something from their life experiences or research however.

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squirpy
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Post by squirpy » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:55 pm

There's some commentary here: http://www.ghibliworld.com/enrico_casar ... rview.html
Enrico posts on these boards sometimes, doesn't he?
I keep a sketchblog here

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