An interview: ABC of Akari

Vicente Carro from AnigoAnimation has been good enough to share with us his interesting project using Blender to create an anime type series! In our interview we ask him some questions about the project:

How long have you been working on this project?

This project was born in early 2012. It was intended to be a fast-commercial project, but the project took its own lifetime. It was in serious cancelling threat several times but every time it got the way to survive. Even this year 2013 we had to reset the project, discard almost everything we had, and start from scratch. Each time it was reborn, it becomes better. This time we got a wonderful illustrator that has changed the looking of every character, so all our previous work again has been discarded. So sadly we don’t have current 3D stuff to show at this point. The teaser/trailers and the pictures we have were all done last year. We hope to get something in 3D to show soon. Here is a picture where you can see the evolution of the main character from the beginning.


What inspired you to use Blender for your it?

Initially I was 3D design teacher teaching 3D Studio, Autocad and so. But I found free software and Blender. Since then I never went back. So using proprietary software is not an option for me. And this policy is extensive to AnigoAnimation. We are using Blender for all 3D stuff and for video editing (yes we know, there are better video editing software in Linux). If you are asking we are using Ubuntu as our operative system, even if we are not too happy with the last strange choices Ubuntu is taking. Maybe we should rethink what OS should we should use in a future, but currently Ubuntu is working well. I have to say that the audio is done by an external artist that usually uses proprietary software but he is willing to try free software. So we are trying to help and convince him to use free software with this project.

How has the recent developments of Freestyle helped your project?

Having Freestyle in the Trunk was my birthday present for this year! Previously I had to update, compile and spread on our local net the Freestyle branch SVN, everyday. It was bothering. Currently with FS in Trunk we have picked a fixed version and we are way more relaxed about the instabilities and I have extra time to spend working. I met Freestyle at the beginning and Tamito, the current main developer, and myself have been in permanent contact since then. So every time I needed something Tamito was there to hear my problem, evaluate if it could be solved and even doing little upgrades for me. Thanks Tamito. Also each time we found a bug we noticed to Tamito ASAP, because they were production stoppers for us. Freestyle was always a serious production tool for us. And we have a lot of improvements to suggest.

What main challenges have you faced for rendering?

Well, maybe the most annoying issue was the “that’s not a bug, it’s a feature” or “Yeah it’s a bug, but won’t be fixed” answers we got in the Blender Bug tracker. Did you know the Blender Internal preview can not show properly textures with extend clamping? And that won’t be fixed… Really Annoying. But please don’t take me wrong, I’m very gratefull to the Blender devs. They are doing a wonderful job. But sometimes I fell like the reasons to do or not something are quite irrational, from a user point of view.

From a technical point of view the maturity of the material nodes has been a life saver. We were having a lot of problems with simple materials so we had to change to Nodes as soon as we could.
However it’s not enough and we are collaborating in the next big step, IMHO, in Blender: the Advance Toon Shading, also called BEER ( Blender Extended Expressive Rendering). This will make things way easier if you are

In general our problem is to get Anime appearance, that’s not hard to get, but in the less possible time. As we don’t have big resources so we try to keep our rendering time under 10 seconds per frame (for characters) so we have to use a lot of tricks to do so.
We are happy with the current results but there is plenty of room for more improvements, and we are willing to get them.

The stereoscopy in 3D was harder than initially thought. Specially because I DON’T HAVE A 3D MONITOR!!! All was done based only in theory and then checked online by people with those monitors.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Yes. In a matter of hours, the 23rd May 2013 at 13pm (Japan time), the website will be launched and so, in it, our crowd-funding campaign to get the funds needed to make “ABC of Akari”. I want to publicly ask for all the help you can give us. Our goal is not a big one, but still we need money. And also that will help us to launch this company for good.

Thank you!

This is certainly an interesting project! Just so are audience is aware, ABC of Akari will be geared toward the 13+ crowd mainly for mild violence, and some suggestive content. We hope the best to your project and studio!

Thank you for sharing with us Vicente!