Director (Kantoku)

Director is responsible for the overall look of a film. Directors often draw storyboard that depicts sequence of shots. Storyboard is one of the most interesting aspects of animation process to me because it involves visualizing the script – it is somewhat similar to drawing manga. The storyboard can be drawn on a A4-sized paper or larger format that can be reduced later. In addition to illustrations, the storyboard may contain notes such as shot number, shot duration, camera movements (T.U.=track up, T.B.=Track back), pans, and the dialogue.

Watch the first minute of Nausicaa and compare the animation to the storyboard.




Sometimes, storyboard is not drawn by the director of the show. For example, Michio Fukuda specialized almost exclusively in storyboarding until the debut as a director of Hyakko. Unfortunately, storyboarding is one of the lowest paying positions in the anime industry.

Miyazaki drawn as a big mean-looking pig screaming at the animators to speed up their work on Porco Rosso.

Miyazaki is a very bossy person. He is well-known for his “hands-on” directing style. He personally checks key animation and would often re-draw the cels himself if they are not up to his standard. However, Miyazaki retired from this type of directing in the recent years.

Enshutsu (Animation/Technical Director)

Animation director is responsible for supervising the show, including checking of the animation drawings, scene set up, camera filters, exact speed of panning movement, exact placement of cels on the backgrounds, editing, sound, and voice recording among others. The exact responsibilities vary between companies and shows.

Editing (Henshuu)

Editing is similar to live-action films, although you don’t have extra footage of the same scene from different cameras unless it is a 3D animation. Editing is one of the most interesting aspects of a film to me ๐Ÿ™‚

“I love editing. I think I like it more than any other phase of film making. If I wanted to be frivolous, I might say that everything that precedes editing is merely a way of producing film to edit.” Stanley Kubrick

Six main criteria ordered by importance for evaluating a cut or deciding where to cut, according to Walter Murch.

  1. Emotion โ€” Does the cut reflect what the editor believes the audience should be feeling at that moment?
  2. Story โ€” Does the cut advance the story?
  3. Rhythm โ€” Does the cut occur “at a moment that is rhythmically interesting and ‘right'”?
  4. Eye-trace โ€” Does the cut pay respect to “the location and movement of the audience’s focus of interest within the frame”?
  5. Two-dimensional plane of the screen โ€” Does the cut respect the 180 degree rule?
  6. Three-dimensional space of action โ€” Is the cut true to the physical/spatial relationships within the diegesis?

One of the best anime editors is Kazuhiko Seki (Baccano, Ef – A Tale of Memories, Ghost Hunt, Zetsubou Sensei, Hidamari Sketch, My-Hime/Otome, Natsu no Arashi, Natsume Yลซjin-Chล, Petite Cossette). Seki’s collaborations with director Akiyuki Shinbo produced some of the best anime.

Here is an excerpt from Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei:

This is an anime version of the famous scene by Alfred Hitchcock.

25 thoughts on “Making Anime: Positions in Anime Industry

  1. wow… I love how thorough most of your posts are; I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this blog

    keep it up

  2. I’m going through art college at the moment, so this post was definitely helpful in getting to know more about the career prospects in the anime industry. (: Some of our subjects even covers some of the jobs slightly already-like character design etc! Nevertheless art can be grueling-and expensive, ahaha. Thank you for this post!

    1. I am glad it was helpful for you ๐Ÿ™‚ It sounds like your college education is interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

      If you had a choice, what position would you take?

  3. Very awesome post!

    The editor you mentioned, Kazuhiko Seki, worked on Akiyuki Shinbo’s Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Natsu no Arashi but not his Maria+holic. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why I think both are far superior to Maria+holic. Especially since I often thought Maria+holic felt lazy and not as sharp as the other two.

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, a wiki article would be nice, but we have to take care of Wolfram Alpha first because of the resin ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. Art Director. I enjoy drawing landscapes. (: Would be cool to visualize the concept art for a film production, anime or live action! Our college is definitely interesting, but they really push you I suppose, so that we will deliver more when we go out to look for a job later.

    1. Yes, Art Director is an interesting specialty ๐Ÿ™‚ Post your landscapes if you have some ๐Ÿ™‚

      Pushing students a little is good as long as it is done in moderation.

  5. Question, I’m doing a paper on outsourcing in the Japanese anime industry, and I need a source on how all it’s structured. What all sources did you use?

    Due at 6pm today 5/21, and it’s 2:50pm now. Help please!

  6. Thank you again, this article was very useful. Actually I think I am about to do something big right know even tough I am young. My dad took my sketch book to his work today and he showed it to his co workers, one of them use to do comics and I have been planning two comics for two months and already.

    1. I am glad you found it useful ๐Ÿ™‚

      If you are into comics, I recommend books by Scott McCloud, especially Understanding Comics. One of the most interesting sections is chapter seven where he describes a path that any creation in any medium will follow ๐Ÿ™‚ It is also a nice perspective on a growth of an artist. It is an interesting reading not only about comics, but about art in general ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. wow…much work from your part…It clarified some things yet I still get confused at some responsibilities. And a question: what is a ‘key’? *blush*
    Very enlightening work. Thanks!

  8. Yay! Another resource for more behind the scenes in animation. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Kitsune-chan!

    Re outsourced animation, I wrote/TL’ed a segment in a Japanese show episode that featured OP animation in Toei Philippines. At that time, I didn’t know a thing about animation process, but thought of that segment as something education and wrote about it for fun and mostly to amuse myself. xD

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