WFAC - Waterloo Festival For Animated Cinema 2004 - October 27 - 30, 2004

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The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema is pleased to present an informal interview with Ms. Mito, one of the filmmakers whose films Adonis and Sora yori aoki (Bluer than the Sky) will be screened in the Tidbits programme. Ms. Mito goes by the alias "Ceruju," and is a little shy - but she decided to brave the interview in English. Kudos!

Edits to the original dialogue have been marked by [brackets].

WFAC: With me is Ceruju, an independent animator from Japan whose work will be part of the Tidbits presentation at WFAC 2004. Ceruju, could you introduce yourself?
Ceruju: I am female, Japanese, a former fashion designer. I have long-long hair and black eyes. Is this OK?
WFAC: Of course :) Whatever you are comfortable with.
WFAC: Ceruju, would you prefer we use "Ceruju" or your real name when the interview is published?
Ceruju: Please call me Ceruju.
WFAC: Certainly. Can you tell us about the name "Ceruju"?
Ceruju: Well... I want use French "serge"... but Japanese read it with English sounds.
WFAC: It's a lovely name.
Ceruju: Thank you very much.
WFAC: Can you tell us a little about your former career?
Ceruju: About fashion designer, or 3DCG?
WFAC: Fashion design. I noticed a distinct and strong design in your animation, and was wondering whether your style developed from your fashion work.
Ceruju: I designed [for] ladies and children. Casual wear. For [seven] years I worked in [the] fashion world.
WFAC: Did you enjoy it?
Ceruju: Maybe. But I quit...
WFAC: Was it because you didn't want to be working in fashion any more, or because you found something more interesting?
Ceruju: I didn't like a system of the business world of that. So, I wanted to try others.
WFAC: Was that when you started working with 3DCG?
Ceruju: Yes, about five years ago.
WFAC: Why drew you (made you interested) in 3DCG?
Ceruju: I like digital, as 3D soft[ware]. It is [mathematical], but funny.
WFAC: Funny? What an interesting way of looking at it. How so?
Ceruju: Um... 3DCG [uses] numerical values. It's not art. However, we create art.
WFAC: Did you ever think about doing work in 2D? What led you to choose 3D - the digital aspect, as you referred to above?
Ceruju: When the First time I use 3DCG, I [became] a slave to 3DCG. I've never thought of doing work in 2D.
Ceruju: I enjoy making 3DCG all the time.
WFAC: Did you have any formal training, or did you start working with 3DCG as a hobby?
Ceruju: I started working with 3DCG as a hobby.
WFAC: Tell us about your first 3DCG work.
Ceruju: First… sorry, I don't remember... First thing of [the original] is [about] a girl.
WFAC: What was it about?
Ceruju: When that time, I saw Japanese animation of SUNRISE (ed.: the studio; associated with Bandai.) I made that image...
Ceruju: Key word is "infinity." But... simply [put], I made a [simple] girl.
WFAC: Were you ever tempted to explore the "infinity" theme in your later work?
Ceruju: Well... It's [a] deep theme... I want to try someday.
WFAC: I noticed in the later work you've done, that you have strong female leads.
Ceruju: Oh... thank you so much!
WFAC: Tell us about "Bluer than the Sky." It's a very mature story; what prompted you to make this film?
Ceruju: It is my first [dramatic] films. What prompted [me] is...
Ceruju: I want to show my aesthetics, I think.
WFAC: What kind of aesthetics?
Ceruju: I [mean] beautiful words, beautiful guys, beautiful spirit, beautiful world.
Ceruju: [This] is so abstract. Sorry…
WFAC: Abstract is good. :)
Ceruju: I love Moto Hagio and Keiko Takemiya.
Ceruju: These are influenced by them.
WFAC: Ooo...
WFAC: Do you believe that what is good must be beautiful?
WFAC: And if so, are your aesthetics a kind of optimism about the world?
Ceruju: Umm… little bit difficult. [Please give me a bit of time…]
WFAC: Sorry, my turn to be a little bit abstract :) If you'd like to reply to this in Japanese in full, that is okay.
Ceruju: Thanks!
WFAC: You can consider that question in full later, and maybe email to me. I hope the question is not boring to you. :)
Ceruju: Not boring!
Ceruju: I just love beauty and [I love the] world. That is simple. Is it optimism?
WFAC: I think so. I think we all need to be reminded how we are all innately drawn to the same things which we consider truly beautiful - some of us need more reminding than others, that is all.
WFAC: So, do you see "Adonis" as an extension of "Blue"?
Ceruju: Something is so. Something is not.
WFAC: Please explain.
WFAC: You said essentially, "yes, and no."
WFAC: Could you explain?
Ceruju: Yes.
Ceruju: "Blue" is mental. "Adonis" is resistance to a system.
Ceruju: "Adonis"is more global…
Ceruju: but both [express] human being, I think.
WFAC: Yes, indeed.
WFAC: What inspired you to start making "Adonis"?
Ceruju: "Terra he...(Go to the terra)". It is old Japanese comics.
Ceruju: By Keiko Takemiya.
Ceruju: I love this for more than 20 years.
WFAC: Actually, I am a fan as well. :)
Ceruju: Really?! Great!
WFAC: The old masterpieces are really quite something - "Terra he", "Hi no tori"... More soul (kokoro) than some of the recent works.
WFAC: Now about the animation aspect - what do you use to create your work?
Ceruju: I use LightWave3D.
WFAC: How do you find it, for doing this kind of independent filmmaking?
Ceruju: My friends (on web) used LightWave3D. I use Shade first time, I transferred.
WFAC: Are you making films full-time, or part-time?
Ceruju: Honesty, full-time now.
Ceruju: I'm working 8-9 hours [on] Adonis every day.
WFAC: Wow - and we're very much looking forward to seeing it here at the Festival.
Ceruju: I will do my best.
WFAC: Can you describe the "typical day in the life of Ceruju" for these 8-9 hours? I think our readers would love to know what kind of work goes into making the film.
Ceruju: About Adonis (now making), I set up scenes,test rendering, editing, check, set or reset scene, render, edit, check....
Ceruju: Repetition. Adonis has about 300cut.
WFAC: What would you change about LightWave3D to make it work better for you?
Ceruju: Change about LightWave3D?
WFAC: Yes.
Ceruju: The most important thing is [the] modeler. LW's modeler is very good and [it has] nice plugins.
WFAC: Which part of the cycle (edit-check-scene change-render) do you find the most painstaking / difficult?
Ceruju: "Check" is. Tempo is very important I think.
WFAC: In your experience, what would you say the breakdown is like (% for edit, % for check, etc.)
Ceruju: Well, 20% [of the time] for check, but I need great power of concentration. 80% power.
WFAC: I know what you mean. The critical 10-20% of work takes 80-90% of the skill.
WFAC: Can you describe the plotline of "Adonis" for our audience, so they have a better understanding before they see the film?
Ceruju: "Adonis" is my second dorama. I wanted to make SF. There are many characters to bright my film more exciting. MOTHER ROSE who is just a terminal of a super computer is the core of this story. She is [a fascinating] girl. In the future, [no] women [can] become pregnant due to an unknown disaster. The perfect computer Mother-Rose reigns over the new world, "Union."
Ceruju: "Union" is the last world where humans can live.
Ceruju: Then a soldier named Haluki meets a woman named Mariel. Mother-Rose said to him that she is pregnant...
WFAC: Did you have any creative or other obstacles to getting your films made? What made you want to make SF?
Ceruju: I'll answer first "What made you want to make SF?"
Ceruju: Though I love SF, SF needs a lot of modeling for stage.
Ceruju: So I gave up making SF for my first film - so I made "Blue" first film. I decided to make SF for 2nd film.
Ceruju: Next, about obstacles.
WFAC: Financial, creative, etc.
Ceruju: Well... not obstacles but most [important] and troublesome is time.
Ceruju: Making CG movies needs a lot of time. Special High Spec machines are nice, but there is a limit for an individual.
WFAC: An interesting point I'd like to explore: what is that limit for a single individual, do you think?
Ceruju: A working fund I think... If I have any sponsor, I will make movies [faster].
WFAC: Oh? Do you mean, so that you can spend more time making films?
Ceruju: I meen efficiency... I want 2-3 machines and LW.
WFAC: Our film festival is considering an initiative to offer computing power to people doing films. For example, rendering and scene setup.
WFAC: Would something like this have helped you develop your film?
Ceruju: Yes, sure.
WFAC: How much would it have helped you, you think?
Ceruju: How much... sorry, what do you mean?
WFAC: I mean (in another way): do you think it's possible for a single person to do a full-length film in a reasonable amount of time?
Ceruju: A full-length film is....example, one hour?
Ceruju: For example, "Adonis"? Well... I don't know honestly...
WFAC: It's a difficult question - and I'm sure, nothing is really impossible. :)
WFAC: That's what I'd like to believe, that it will be possible for a single person to tell a story this way.
Ceruju: However I want some market.
WFAC: Videos, chara goods, etc.? To provide funds for more development.
Ceruju: Sure.
WFAC: What kind of budget do you think is required?
WFAC: As a comparison, we are so used to hearing that films such as "Steamboy" required more than 2.4 billion yen...
WFAC: What kind of budget do you think will enable artists such as yourselves to produce a film?
Ceruju: I think hard and soft development are indispensable. [Furthermore...
Ceruju: Making animation by only oneself is very hard [sometimes.]
WFAC: A question - what do you mean by "hard" and "soft" development?
Ceruju: Hard is computer, soft is some plugin for LW or AE etc.
WFAC: Ah. Hardware and software.
Ceruju: Sometimes I need specialist for modeling or effects. If I pay some reward to them, my movie's quality [would be] better than now.
WFAC: Is that what is leading you to work with another team on R.S.?
Ceruju: About R.S. Mr. Ushimaya cannot write a screenplay, so I am a specialist for him.
WFAC: Do you prefer collaborations like this, or independent work?
Ceruju: Maybe I like independent work. becouse I like screenplay and design and direction, but need some help.
Ceruju: Umm...
Ceruju: Directer Oshii said, making movie is collaborations.
WFAC: Do you think that collaboration means a definite loss of creative control?
Ceruju: I think case by case.
WFAC: Indeed. So - final couple of questions - you must be tired ^_^ Is there any commercial animation or animator who inspires you?
Ceruju: I'm greatly influenced by "Revolutionary Girl Utena" (Kunihiko Ikuhara). Others are "Jin-roh", "Escaflowne", "Arjuna" and "Argento Soma."
WFAC: All very impressive films, and fairly recent.
WFAC: What inspires you about these films?
Ceruju: About Utena, I was deeply inspired by a screenplay and a view of the world. Jin-roh is as well.
WFAC: Jin-roh: one of my personal favourite films.
Ceruju: Oh!
WFAC: Very powerful imagery and theme.
Ceruju: Yes.
WFAC: Lovely music as well.
Ceruju: Sure.
WFAC: Tell us about the music and sound aspects of your films. That is a collaboration, yes?
Ceruju: Ah, yes. BGM are free, song is a collaboration.
Ceruju: I catch on web or marketplace for [indies].
WFAC: How about voice acting? Are there some groups who specialise in voice acting?
Ceruju: Ya… Japanese call CV...^^) (character voice) so,
Ceruju: [For] Blue, I advertise on [the] web. [For] Adonis, some connections. They are good [actors].
WFAC: Yes, very good.
WFAC: Can you describe how you collaborate with outside voice actors?
WFAC: Do you give them the film, they send you an audio file synchronised to the film? Or do they do the audio editing?
Ceruju: Ah… about Blue and Adonis, I distributed my screenplay and recorded at the studio before I made film. Because I could not foretell voice-time.
WFAC: Perfect sync. :)
WFAC: Did you ever think, "I want to modify script after seeing film"?
Ceruju: Never, but I cut some.
WFAC: How about special sound effects and music?
Ceruju: Sound effects and choice music are by me.
WFAC: OK! Last question! (Though I cannot promise, because I am curious.:)
Ceruju: OK!
WFAC: Do you have any message you would like to say to the Festival audience before they see your films?
Ceruju: Thank you very much [for] having interest for my works. It will be wonderful for me if you are enjoy something of my animations. Animations give us many dreams and a wonderful world. I'll do my best for make them. Thank you.
WFAC: Thank you very much for taking time to talk to us. We look forward to seeing your films at the Festival!
Ceruju: Thank you so much!