How Anime is Made in Japan – Perfectly Detailed Explanation – 3 Major Steps

How Anime is Made in Japan

In this article, you will know about How Anime is Made in Japan. To know about Untold History From Manga to Anime, Click Here.

Animations are of many types. The process of creating them is almost same. But depending on the type of animation you’re creating some steps differ in making them. For example – Shaun The Sheep is one type of animation and Doraemon, another type. Shaun The Sheep includes a step of making clay models Whereas Doraemon doesn’t need clay models.

Watch this post as a video here – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

Then why make models? And yep, today we’ll set aside all types of animations. And talk about the type of animation which is totally unique and special – Anime. Anime means Japanese Animations. So how are these Legendary Anime made? Read this post till the end. So you’ll get to know the whole process. The main focus of this post will be to know the whole process of producing TV Anime.

We’ll divide this process into 3 segments – Pre Production, In Production and Post Production

1. Pre Production

Stage 1- Pre Production – Simple means. about what would be the story of Anime or which Manga to convert into Anime. And who will pay the budget of making this Anime Series or Movie. All these things are pre planned in Pre Production.

Stage. 2. In Production – Simply means Animating. In this, Layout Design is made along with Digital Paintings or Drawings. Overall, this stage includes creating and editing the complete animation

3. Post Production – In this, The voices of Voice Artists are recorded and syned with the animation. And if a particular Anime is gonna release in multi languages, the Dubbing is done in this stage. And thus an Anime is ready to be released on TV.

Animation Process - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Animation Process – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

Quite easy process, right? Well it only seems easy but isn’t. As now I’m gonna explain these 3 stages in details. Which person works in which stage. Because if this process is being worked out, somebody maybe the working force behind it.

Like if a Manga is being made The working force is Mangaka. Similarly, in the production of Anime, we’ll get to know every worker in detail. And then you’ll know this, that in the process of making an Anime is so much complicated. Yes, the production is full of missed schedules, revisions and a whole lot of paper work.

Pre Production – Presenting and Approving the Idea

While making and Anime, normally there are two major sources

1. Manga or Light Novels Manga as you already know are the comics made in Japan. Light Novels are the long form version of Manga by which a movie can be made. For example – Manga Series is the source of Doraemon Anime and the source of Your Name Movie is a Light Novel

2. Original Anime Scripts – If a writer doesn’t have Manga or Light Novel then he might have a story he wants to convert into an Anime. As we have our idea ready which we want to convert into Anime. So we need to show our idea to a Production Company. If they like our idea, all the budgets related to Produciton, Advertisement and Broadcasting will be paid by them.

See the one who pays is called Producer. And if you don’t have any scarcity of money you can invest in these, thus making you a Producer. And if a Company is financing your Animation Project then that particular company is the Producer, not you. You’ll just be called a Publisher – the one who owns the idea.

Viz Media and Aniplex - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Viz Media and Aniplex – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

And Publisher too needs to finance some expenses in the starting .So don’t think you don’t have to pay anything. When a Production Company like Viz Media or AniPlex likes your idea, then the next step would be to get your project made by Wit Studio or Toei Animation. So that the studio converts your idea into an Animation.

And how early the Animation Studios start working depends on conditions whether you want to convert Manga or Anime Original Script into an Anime. As the Manga already has Characters and Storyboards ready, thus they can be converted into Anime easily. But Anime Original Script need to make a Character, Background and Storyboard from zero. Which needs so much time and effort.

Anime Studios Preferring Manga Stories - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Anime Studios Preferring Manga Stories – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

And this is the reason why Animation Studios take Manga projects fast. And if your idea gets accepted by both Production Company and Animation Studio, then the next step will be – Who will work in your project. Yes, in this step the work of Animation Studio is to make a Team of people who’ll get the idea from your brain to the TV screens.

The people can be the Full Time Employees of the Studio or some Freelancers who work Commission Based. First of all we’ll know about 12 Main Staffs who have the main role in making Animtation Series or Film. These are Publisher, Producer, Director, Episdoe Director,Layout Director, Art/Film Director, Animation Director, Concept Designer, key Animator, In Between Animator, Colour Artists, And Recording Director.

Pre Production Staff - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Pre Production Staff – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

Pre Production – The Staff

1. Publisher – First comes Publisher. Basically this is you who owns the idea and material.s Your work is to develop Plot, Setting and Characters including, writing dialogues of all characters. Getting a Full Script Ready- what you want to show in an episode. Which means you’re a Writer and if needed you can make a team of writers too. Which will write the script and you’ll read the scripts making adjustments and getting the final script ready. Just like the creator of Gravity Falls – Alex Hirsch. If you haven’t read this post, Click Here.

Publisher - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Publisher – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

2. Producer – A Producer manages the Financing and Promotion of your project. And as I said before, this Producer can either be you or the comapnies like Viz Media, AniPlex. Always remember one thing, Production Company has a lot of power. They may tell you to make some changes into your story and by chance, if you don’t do it, then you won’t get any funding and your project will be gone forever.

3. Director -The work of Director is to make sure whether the Character Designs are according to the scenes, Camera Angle, Timing, etc. Making sure these all are perfect or they need any changes. And if changes are needed, then what would be the changes. All these things are looked after by the Director In the Production process of any particular Anime. Basically he is that boss, who is present in every stage of Production And makes sure everything is going as planned.

4. Episode Director – If the Director is the Final Boss, Episode Director are some Mini Bosses who are assinged for one particular episode to see that the episode is being made perfect or not. And obviously Episode Director work under Final Boss and they can changed episode to episode.

5. Layout Director -Yep, Layout Director makes layouts. What would be the position of characters in the background of a particular scene, their Camera Angle, how will they look in the final scene. Basically they are an Anime’s Cinematographers.

6. Art/Film Director – Art/Film Director is also known as Photographic Director whose work is specifically to look after Background and Setting. He works with Background Artist to handle Specific Lighting, Colour, Shadow and even Weather. You can guess the importance of Art/Film Directors by watching Makoto Shinkai’s films.

Art/Film Director - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Art/Film Director – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

7. Animation Director – Animation Director is an Animator of Highest Ranking who is assigned a project. His work is to look after the consistency and quality of Animation. And if any problem is seen, he fixes it. Remember this, there are multiple Animation Directors for one Series. Like Chief Animation Director, under them, Subordinate Animation Directors, etc. The job of Animation Director is quite stressful because if any mistake is seen in animation, Animation Studio will target him for it.

Hayao Miyazaki (Animation Director) - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Hayao Miyazaki (Animation Director) – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

8. Concept Designer – Concept Designer off course designs the concepts. He makes sure, how the characters should look in different enviroments. And if a character is taken from Manga or Light Novel, Concept Designer can get some changes in them too. And what more is there to say. He makes sure your favorite Waifu looks good. They draw different settings, backgrounds, and the initial and final versions of Anime world. Thus there role is on another level as they have to draw concepts of Monster Types, Powers and Moves.

Concept Design - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Concept Design – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

9. Key Animator – A Key Animator is the one who draws keyframes. These keyframes are of main poses, Movements and character’s distinct emotions. Remember, the more the keyframes, the smoother will be the animation. Episode having more action will have more key Animators in comparision to the episode with more dialogues.

10. In-between Animator – Usually 24 frames are made per second in an Anime. These 24 frames are called in-between frames which are drawn by In-between Animator. Because In-between Animator has this work Of drawing one drawing 24 times, that is why their salary is very low. Which is why nobody thinks about becoming an In-between Animato.r So studios mostly hire freelancers for this work.

In-betweeen Frames - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
In-betweeen Frames – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

11. Colour Artists – Key Animators and In-between Animators together make frames which are coloured by Colour Artists. And also Art/Film Director looks after these artists that the colours are according to the scene or not. Colour Artist is a very important role because obviously you would never want to see a rainbow coloured dog in a serious Anime Jujutsu Kaisen.

12. Recording Director – What do we say about them Sound, Voice Acting and Music are handled by these experts.

So as you are now aware about the Main Staff, now know how these will make an Animation.

In-Production – The 8 Steps

Pre Production had 2 steps – Presenting and Approving the idea and Choosing the Right Staff. And In Production has total 8 steps. After which Final Animation gets ready.

Step 1 – Concept Design – Obviously Publisher, in this case you,has to get a script of an episode ready and give it to Animation Studio. And the studio will give the script to Concept Designer. And as we discussed before if the Anime’s source is Manga, the Concept Designer won’t take much efforts. But if the source is an Original Anime Script then assume the Concept Designer has the burden.

The burden of many hours. He has to visualize and create every character. And has to conceptualize this Anime’s whole world himself. After which he has to transfer this concept to Storyboard Department for Storyboarding. But before transferring, the created concept has to go through Publisher, Producer, Director and Film Director. If they think it’s good only then the concept is transferred for Storyboarding.

Step 2 – Storyboards – Concept Designer only creates the concept and writes the concept’s description. Like in the main character’s concept his eyes should be blue or red, or his dress would have what colour. And if the concept is about environment, will the sky be blue or red, grass should be whtie or green The Concept Designer sends it for storyboarding.

Manga Panels Storyboard - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Manga Panels Storyboard – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

After writing all the concepts and in storyboarding, the design plus descriptive text is converted into visuals in scene by scene. Means, storyboards are the rough drawings which don’t have much detailing. Only Camera Angle, Character position,etc. are set and scene by scene drawings are made. That too in small boxes like these. As I said before, the storyboard is done In the presence of the Director.

Storyboard Paper - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Storyboard Paper – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

Generally these storyboards are made on A4 papers In which Anime’s most of the vital building blocks are defined. Like, the cut numbers, actor movements, Camera movements like zooming and panning, the dialogues that are taken from scripts, the length of the each shot in terms of seconds, and number of frames, etc. If the source material is a Manga, the storyboards are based on Manga Panels which saves so much time In comparision to storyboard of Original Anime Scripts.

Step 3 – Layout – Look at this, in a page all these small boxes have different Shots, also known as Cuts. And all these shots are together called storyboard. Drawing this rough work in a bigger size with more detailing is called Layout Process. The big size is equal to Screen Size that is 9:16. Layout of any scene has two things – Background and Cell. In simple terms – characters.

Storyboard - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes

To differenciate these the background is coloured with Cool Blue and the character is coloured with Warm Orange. Well till layout, only rough and detailed drawings of every scene is drawn. And now starts the actual Animation Process in which Key Animator, In-between Animator and Colour Artist have most of the role.

Colouring Stage - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
Layout – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

Step 4 – Key Animation – Well in Key Animation, one by one all the frames are drawn. That is drawn by Animato.r And these frames are final and have the highest quality which are not edited later. And in this way, Key Animators are the Real Animators. I mean the whole team helps them but Key Animation is the work of high level and who does this work gets the true respect.

But yes, if the animation has any mistakes they also get true blaming. And the keyframes drawn by Animator are approved by Animation Director and Episode Director before sending them to In-between Animators.

Step 5 – 2nd Key Animation – Nowadays the extra step of Second Key Animation in which the keyframes made by First and Main Key Animator are revised by another Key Animator. In this revision, if he gets any mistakes he gets it corrected right there.

Step 6 – In-between Animation – Honestly, Anime Artists are in a love and hate relationship with In-between Animation. Why? Look, first its an important role as this step gives a smooth motion to Animation. But people working under this role have a much lower salary. In In-between Animation, between all the already drawn keyframes some extra frames are drawn which doesn’t need much experience because you only have to see and draw the same drawings with minor changes. And thus Animation Studios mostly hire Freelancers for this work.

In-between Frames - How Anime is Made in Japan - By Animation Vibes
In-between Frames – How Anime is Made in Japan – By Animation Vibes

Step 7 – Colouring – Finally, this is the best part of thei process because who doesn’t like colouring? In my school time, I bought lots of colouring books and made it’s mountain. Well apart from my memories, nowadays Colour Artists use Digital Colouring instead of Traditional Colouring. And not only do the Colour Artists paint the skin and hair but they also make sure to put in the shadow and proper lightening that was set in the frames. And what surprise can Colour Artists do can be seen in Demon Slayer’s Colourings.

Step 8 – Filming/Adding Backgrounds – Yup, this step is only handled by Art and Film Director. He takes the help of softwares like Adobe After Effects because everything is digitalized till now. Specially after colouring stage Art Director can create additional backgrounds and can merge it with the Main Animation easily. Remenber in this stage, Effects or FX are added.

What do you think these sunlight, rain are animated? No man, these are Visual Effects that are added additionally in this Final Step. Yup effects help in enhancing magic, explosions and even the overall atmosphere of a certain scene. And as I said, very subtle effects like sunset backlight, glare, the shining eyes of the characters, etc. which give more depth to 3D Animation all are called FX.

Post Production – The Finalisation Of Anime

This is the phase when an Anime gets out of Production This step involves Finishing Touch and Cleaning. And after a little wait the Particular Anime is ready to be broadcast on TV. And in this little wait the Anime characters are given lives with the help of Voice Acting and Sound Effects. And this work is done by Recording Director. The Music Tracks of Tokyo Ghoul and Your Name you already know are so popular.

That is why, dont underestimate The Power of Music. You may have the power of God and Anime on your side, but that won’t do any good if your music sucks. And that’s why apart from dubbing, The music in Anime sometimes makes it more popular.

Another important thing is Sound Effects. As the visual effects shock our eyes In the same way ears are shocked by Sound Effects. To enhance the impact of any fight scene or to make a funny scene funnier, sound effects are always God Level here. And final animation with sound and music after getting approved by Publisher, Producer, And Director your Anime gets ready to be aired through different Broadcasting Channels.

In conclusion making Anime is not as easy as people think. In every single second of a 20 minutes Episode, there are huge efforts by many people. And because we now know the process of creating Anime, thus, we can now appreciate all the underpaid and overworked animators who give their everything in making them.

So definitely appreciate writer and producer but remember from now onwards that behind your favorite Anime are not just writers, producers, or voice artists, but also only Animators are the real stars who work 18 hours a day the whole year making millions of drawings, and create your Favorite Anime Series.

Any questions related to this post? Dm me on my Instagram – @Animation_Vibes. Plus this playlist contains Short Documentaries of your Childhood Shows specially made for you. So take some time, watch them and share with friends. Will meet soon, Till then this is Raja Signing Off.

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