Hayao Miyazaki is the mind behind some of the most beautiful and enchanting animated films ever made, from Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke to Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. Timeless and classic films that will live on long past Miyazaki, who is currently *checks a calendar* pretty dang old. And when The Wind Rises came out in 2013, it was largely assumed that he was retiring. It was such a good film to end on.
But Miyazaki had a grandson and decided that he wanted to leave one final film behind as a gift to the kid. The film will be How Do You Live?, and the release date is a big fat "IDK" -- seriously, nobody knows. The best guess anyone has is about three more years, and they've been at this for about three years already. In fact, they kind of thought three years ago that they'd be nearly done around now. He's essentially turned into anime's James Cameron with delays and here's why.
What we know from a recent interview with Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki is that they've got about 36 minutes of the film done, which works out to about 1 minute of film per month. If they're anticipating three more years at that rate, that works out to about a 72-minute movie.
Now, what exactly constitutes "a minute of film" in a hand-drawn animation film such as this? It's about 24 frames per second. Some animations are drawn "on threes" (such as many animes) or "on twos," meaning that when the film is played at 24 fps, the viewer will see eight or 12 drawings, respectively. Something drawn "on ones," which would be 24 individual drawings played at 24 frames per second, is super smooth. Take a look.
We also know from Suzuki's interview that they'd hired around 60 animators to work on this film. So if there are 60 animators producing around 60 seconds worth of film every month. Assuming they're drawing on the ones, that means each second is 24 individual drawings. On average, this means each animator is doing roughly one drawing a day.
Obviously, the workflow is not going to be as simple as every animator just doing one drawing a day. There'll be other assignments to optimize production. But aren't there ways to make things simpler? Are there not really well-drawn backgrounds they can use for multiple scenes? There were non-CGI innovations being made like 75 years ago to help out with this type of thing, right? Coffee enemas?
This movie will undoubtedly be a classic and memorialized forever as a great feather in Miyazaki's cap. But remember, those animators were originally hired for three-year contracts, and now they're going to need re-upped. It just kind of makes you wish you were a fly on the wall for this -- if for no other reason than to witness history.
Top Image: Spirited Away/Studio Ghibli