How the "3D Anime"-style is made, explained by Junya Motomura, Guilty Gear Xrd Technical Director & more



  • At GDC last year, Technical Director Junya Motomura of Arc System Works had talked about how they created the Artstyle of Guilty Gear Xrd. It's a very interesting video, and while it's purpose is for games, a lot of the techniques can be applied to 3D anime in general.

    While the quality of photo-realistic real-time graphics in games is advancing daily to near feature-film quality, Arc System Works' RED team took a completely different approach with Guilty Gear Xrd in pursuit of an impressive art style that would stand out even in this competitive environment. The team's mission was to rebuild a classic 2D fighting game within a modern full-3D graphical framework, while maintaining all of its old-school 2D charms. In this GDC 2015 talk, technical artist Junya C Motomura will discuss the art and programming R&D, as well as all the artistic decisions, that lead to the award-winning results.

    You'll have a better understanding of this style.

    Not a lot (outside of game devs) saw this, which is why I'm sharing it here.
    I'm sure someone might be interested.

    As a companion video, after you've seen the GDC video, here's a framerate test from DigitalFoundry, which gives you some precise examples.

    I would love to discuss 3D anime on here, as I really don't think it's satan spawn as people make it out to be. There are some great examples of this. Of course, I'd never want it to replace 2D animation as a whole, but the results can be interesting.

    Other related, interesting videos and articles:

    The Difference Between 2D and 3D animation (What does it mean to animate in 3D? by Bloop Animation
    Anime Production – Detailed Guide to How Anime is Made and the Talent Behind it! by Washi's Blog
    Answer to Why does the latest anime animation (3D) look so weird? by Martin Schneider

    Often compared (and considered better) is the comparison between series like Appleseed and RWBY and what we have now in Anime, but those are going after two completely different concepts. Unlike Rwby and Appleseed, the point isn't to create "3DCG-Animation", but to recreate 2D Animation using 3DCG.

    This is where the "unnatural movement" comes in; frames are being "cut", so to speak, to get closer to the illusion of being 2D. The smoother the animation, the easier it is to tell that it's 3D. Blame! and GGXRD came really close at times, but the issue still lies with 3D technology itself not being quite there yet, not all directors understanding when or how to use the camera. (See: Berserk 2016)

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    Something you can see in works by Hiroyuki Seshita, where as soon fast movement is required, the framerate increases (not always, though) to keep the animation from not being unwatchable. It's usually also where any illusion of it being 2D completely breaks.

    All in all, with this technique, you could, in theory, create bigger and more detailed (or active) shots in the future, while not breaking the illusion.

    tl;dr We'll get there eventually. If you compare Blame! with just the first season of Knights of Sidonia; And most what came before, it's a stark improvement.

    Interesting "3D Anime"-Usage
    1983 - Golgo 13: The Professional by Osamu Dezaki (First known use of CG)
    1998 - Blue Submarine No. 6 by Mahiro Maeda
    1998 - Cowboy Bebop by Shinichirō Watanabe
    2002 - Yukikaze by Masahiko Ōkura
    2004 - Samurai 7 by Toshifumi Takizawa
    2004 - Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence by Mamoru Oshii
    2004 - Steamboy by Katsuhiro Otomo
    2005 - Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki
    2008 - The Sky Crawlers by Mamoru Oshii
    2008 - Ghost in the Shell 2.0 by Mamoru Oshii
    2008 - .hack//G.U. Trilogy by Hiroshi Matsuyama
    2010 - King of Thron by Kazuyoshi Katayama
    2010 - Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn by Kazuhiro Furuhashi
    2012 - .hack//The Movie by Hiroshi Matsuyama
    2012 - Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo by Hideaki Anno
    2013 - Berserk III: The Advent by Toshiyuki Kubooka
    2014 - Sanzoku no Musume Rōnya by Gorō Miyazaki
    2014 - Expelled from Paradise by Seiji Mizushima
    2015 - Kyoto Gakuen University Commerical by Kohta Morie
    2015 - Psycho-Pass: The Movie by Katsuyuki Motohiro
    2015 - Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
    2015 - Arpeggio of Blue Steel -Ars Nova Cadenza- by Seiji Kishi
    2015 - Ajin by Hiroyuki Seshita
    2017 - Seikaisuru Kado: Ninovo by Kazuya Murata
    2017 - Blame! by Hiroyuki Seshita

    as well as "The Garden of Sinners" film franchise, and other recent Ufotable works.
    Not all of these have good CG, but they all feature a very interesting implementation of it. I've tried keeping the list varied.

    Also, if you have PS3, I'd recommend Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigimes Longest Day.

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