Interview with Sublimation CG Director Taichi Kimura
From the Yamato 2202 Chapter 2 program book, June 24, 2017.
Simply tracing it with CG won’t easily have the same impression as Farewell to Yamato
Interviewer: First of all, please tell us your feelings about Space Battleship Yamato.
Kimura: I’m from the direct-hit TV generation and I may have slipped a little, but my impression is that I’ve heard the name Yamato since I was born. I have a childhood memory of the scene where Yamato flies off into the distance. When talking about scenes that made an impression, it’s usually a launch scene, but for me the image of it flying off with the main engine lit up was impressive. After that I saw reruns from time to time, but I didn’t get very deeply into the later series.
Interviewer: What was your impression when you received the job offer?
Kimura: Sunrise D.I.D. studio was in charge of the CG for 2199 and their software is different, so honestly I didn’t expect the offer to come to my shop [Sublimation]. I helped guide layouts for Ark of the Stars, the scenes in Yamato Hotel, but I didn’t get to move Yamato-ish battleships and mecha around. So at first I was worried. “Can I do it?” Since we didn’t have Yamato know-how, I planned to study Chapter 1 of 2199, and when our reserve capacity began to show itself I thought we could add some ingenuity to what had been done before.
Interviewer: What kind of meetings did you have with Director Nobuyoshi Habara?
Kimura: At the time of the handover from 2199, I got the explanation, “This time rather than 2199 it’s going to be Farewell.” Visually it looks like 2199, but what we’re doing is pretty close to Farewell.
Interviewer: What are the specific differences?
Kimura: If anything, 2202 has a feeling of giving priority to images. For example, the Kanada pass for the Cosmo Tiger II. First, I was shown the shot that Mr. Kanada drew and Mr. Habara hopefully said, “I want to do something like this.”
First I tried to reproduce the model by deforming it, and we ended up making the Kanada-pass [Version K] model. Emphasizing the look and feel was Mr. Habara’s policy. I think there’s a scene that changes the impression of battleships as well. As a team, the CG group adapts to circumstances. Fortunately for the Version K, all the fans seemed to accept it rather casually. Surely that’s “normal” for Yamato images.
Interviewer: Did you actually study Farewell, too?
Kimura: I reviewed it plenty. I study homage-like shots to get as close as possible to the original impression. Simply tracing a hand-drawn image with CG doesn’t give the same impression. Especially in terms of weight. In the past, Yamato was drawn with the feeling of a lot of weight. The impact is different, isn’t it? That’s the hard part.
For example, regarding the speed of the ships, the storyboards for the first episode had timing notes that were pretty close to 2199. We made the shots according to the number of seconds specified and moved the ships to fit that, but at the CG check everyone’s impression was “too fast.” Therefore, I dismissed the timing and slowed everything down to 1.5 and two times the speed. When I did that, Director Habara and Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi said, “Let’s go with the slowest,” and then I got the feeling that I’d finally captured the movement.
Interviewer: Yamato is fully revealed in Chapter 2 at last, isn’t it?
Kimura: For modeling, we took over the data from 2199 and changed a few details. It doesn’t seem to have changed much when you look at it, but it has changed considerably. I think it has a different impression now.
Interviewer: Do you work based on instructions from Mecha Designer Junichiro Tamamori?
Kimura: Mr. Tamamori lives in Okinawa, so we revise according to his instructions and have him check it. I work with the expectation that if there are further corrections, I’ll fix it. It’s pretty intricate; the shape of the bow, the nozzle in the main engine getting bigger…it has the feeling of greater output. That’s why the rear view looks cooler. When you see it from the front, the gap between the main guns and the hull have narrowed. I work on really fine details.
Interviewer: What was Mr. Habara’s reaction to Yamato being renewed in this way?
Kimura: The scene of Yamato flying off is impressive when the rear view is cooler, so Mr. Habara smiled when he checked it. When Mr. Kobayashi saw it, he looked amazed. “I really like it!” (Laughs)
Interviewer: What are the highlights of Chapter 2 as seen from CG supervision?
Kimura: First, Yamato is in a sea dock under the ocean. Only the silhouette is visible in the dark.
Interviewer: When I say CG, the notion is of moving pictures, but the CG group also creates still images for backgrounds, right?
Kimura: That’s right. In some cases, Mr. Kobayashi and the art staff paints in special effects.
Interviewer: Do you think the main highlight is Yamato’s launch scene?
Kimura: I think fans will be convinced when they finally see Yamato moving. Of course, the music is the same as Farewell, and when fans hear that I think it will have a “Wow!” feeling. We give it our best and put our passion into it, and Mr. Habara always works right to the limit.
Interviewer: Speaking of battle scene highlights, is there a decisive battle with Andromeda?
Kimura: As for the idea that it might attack and sink Yamato, I was surprised to see that it’s done quite seriously. They shoot to hit. But we may supress the output because it’s continuous and they’re aiming carefully. I didn’t know how serious Yamanami was going to get, but of course, he smiles and laughs to see them off. (Laughs) As for the shot where Yamato and Andromeda have their near miss, I thought I’d have no choice but to do “that” when I saw the storyboard. But then I saw Kia Asamiya’s illustration for the seven advance tickets, and decided it there was no way I wouldn’t imitate “that.” (Laughs)
Interviewer: It was impressive to see the pass follow the composition of the illustration.
Kimura: It was tailored to the image for the advance tickets. Actually, that shot only lasted 5 seconds in the storyboard, but if they didn’t pass each other slowly there wouldn’t be much impact to it. I made the judgment to double it to ten seconds, but of course that could be cut if it wasn’t needed. When I showed the CG check to the directors, they said “This, this!” and they were glad they hired me.
Interviewer: Are there other works that are made this way?
Kimura: No, I don’t think so. Normally, it would be difficult if we didn’t follow the timing specified in the storyboard, but this is a very special work. (Laughs) Suddenly the scale of a shot doubles and has such a feeling of life, in a sense it may be close to making traditional anime. Since storyboards can change at the CG meeting stage, the director of each episode may be surprised.
Interviewer: And finally, a message to the fans, please.
Kimura: Yamato has finally left for space. I think the scenes fans want to see will appear one after another. It gets even more serious in Chapter 3, so I hope you all look forward to it. In fact, as the work on Chapter 3 progresses, we’re doing a lot more with the Kalaklum-class ship. If you see if the trailer, you can understand why. (Laughs) We’re still on the first half, but it’s become a great thing, and I think you’ll be surprised. Please look forward to even greater developments in the future.
Born September 1974, from Tokyo. Board member of Sublimation. His major credits include Sakura Wars 3 & 4, Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society, Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, Library War, and Ghost in the Shell: Arise.