As a precursor to releasing 12 works from WOW20, we have launched ‘the WOW20th Anniversary Movie Logo Internal Competition,’ involving visual media using the WOW20 logo. The task requires expressing WOW20, and completed with the logo, within 30 seconds. The 22 entries created by 25 participants are, unlike their normal creations, explosive expressions of each individual designer’s personality. It made us predict new diversity in the future WOW20 pieces. Here at wowlab, we will introduce the top 7 entries with interviews from the creators. In volume 3, we will take a look at ‘ROBO-KABUKI’ by Tomoya Kimpara.
- Could you tell us about the inspiration for ROBO KABUKI?
As I had to produce this within a short period of time, and wanted to also win the competition, I thought of reusing something of high quality and already completed. At that time, I was working on ‘Max Man & Maya Man.’ This was a campaign project that accompanied the presentation of the newest version of the Autodesk 3ds Max® and Autodesk Maya®, and we featured the data for 3D printing. This is what I am using for this occasion, and then I created a character that is a mixture of ‘wa’ – a theme of WOW20 – and Max Man. What comes into my mind immediately when I think of ‘wa’ is kabuki. Actually, I had this experience when I created a mechanical character for the ‘Panasonic 4K Movie.’ I had the theme of ‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’ as a basis for the character creation, but my creative director had pointed out that, ‘whatever you make becomes a bit like kabuki.’ Though I haven’t been conscious about it, since I apparently like kabuki, I decided to have an open mind and use it as a theme for this project.
- Which aspects of kabuki that you are attracted to are reflected in this work?
Mie (*1), as an example. I like that there are parts where they obviously try to make it ‘cool.’ I watched video clips of Ichikawa Ebizō to see how he performs various types of bowing and mie. However, I struggled to come up with an idea of how to condense it to 30 seconds, and decided to consult my senior designer. My senior designer said, ‘Why don’t you keep turning the neck?’ to which I responded, ‘What? That sounds interesting!’ In the end, I used mie, which is a standard feature of kabuki, and the idea given me by my senior designer.
A part of the drama when an actor pauses with a certain posture, during a moment highlighting the emotion of a scene or character.
- What is the process of making the robot like?
Most of the base data was reused from a previous project, and some parts were painted anew. But then, this only made it dull, so I put Japanese clothes on it, as well as hair to perform kefuri (*2). This hair was actually styled into a pompadour. As I like having a ‘rock’ atmosphere, for the WOWOW New Year IDs, I also styled a horse’s mane into a pompadour in 2015, and in 2013, I made a lightening piece, which I put on a Daruma doll to give it a punk look. Furthermore, though it appears only for a short period of time, I formed the hand to show two fingers, as a sign of ‘congratulations for the 20th anniversary!’ (laughs)
- Was there something that you found challenging?
The animation perhaps. To have it perform mie was actually pretty difficult. For something like that, I would start by watching reference movie clips to decide on the pauses, then insert a key frame per 30 frames, and after that I would adjust it bit by bit. Everything is done manually, so it is rather difficult making the neck and back move nicely… Though they are turning at a speed that no human can ever do, I invested a lot of care in their movements, like making it lower its back and spread its legs open incrementally as the turning goes faster and faster.
- What is your favourite part of your daily work?
It may be unusual, but I like making systems. When generating an animation, rather than ‘making them move by inserting key frames to each of the parts,’ I would make a condition in which you can ‘animate the whole scene by moving just one slider.’ I would then go to other designers handing out my file and say proudly, ‘When you move this slider, this is what you can get’ (laughs) Inserting key frames takes time and when a scene needs to be changed, you have to change all the key frames. However, when you structure it in a certain way at the beginning, you can change it quickly.
The movement of a lion swinging its long mane.