Interview with Kanta Kamei (3)

Kanta Kamei
From key drawings to visual effects, from compositing to direction, Kanta Kamei is a multi-talented veteran in the Japanese animation industry. Starting from the key animations in Tales of Phantasia (1998), he worked in several "Tales of" series titles, and directed the movie part of Tales of Legendia (2005). His technical experience proved invaluable in many I.G's works, such as Blood: The Last Vampire (2000, visual effects and key animator), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003, visual supervisor), Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004, visual effects and key animator), IGPX (2005, visual effects) and Asience: Hairy Tales (2007, director of photography). Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike is his directorial debut in a feature film.

Part 3

Once again 2D animation and computer-generated animation are mixed together harmonically. How did you accomplish this result?
How? We used all the tricks, I was very demanding with the 3DCG director, and I could rely on a very skilled team, starting from the director of photography, Kazuhiro Yamada, as I personally insisted he'd joined the production. As you may know, blending hand-drawn animation and computer-generated images is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks in every production. Especially in the opening scene, we had hand-drawn characters running on a 3D background. That sequence really took quite a while before I could get the result I was aiming for.

How long did the production take in total?
From plot development, about two and a half years. The movie was planned to be released before the PS3 version of the game, but in the end, we had a slight delay in the production schedule, and the game hit the stores before us. (*) I guess it's because I'd been a bit too demanding in terms of quality.

Any difficult point you recall?
I guess it was the storyboard, that I drew myself. The storyboard is the blueprint for the movie, if something is wrong there it affects the whole movie irreversibly. It was my job, and I was the only one who could do that. I spent six endless months agonizing on it. Perhaps it was too much...

Or perhaps you where very committed to your job. Is there any scene you struggled upon in particular?
The last climax scene, of course. When drawing a storyboard, you do not work on the various scenes in the same order as they are supposed to be in the movie. In the case of Vesperia, I first concentrated on the initial sequence, as it had the role of catching the audience's attention. Then I turned to the climax, as I could foresee that it was going to become the most complicated for the animators. After that, I filled and connected.

Yuri looks up at the night sky of Ceazontania. The next day, the Imperial Knights garrison will head to face its destiny.

On the opposite, is there any scene you personally like most?
I'd say, the scene when Yuri looks up at the sky of Ceazontania the night before the Knights expedition to the old ruins. In a moment of great distress, the night breeze seems to bring relief to Yuri's heart.
I wanted to convey that kind of sensation, but I also wanted to depict a moment in which Yuri makes a little but meaningful step toward his choice about which direction he will take -protecting the people in need.

(*) The PS3 version of Tales of Vesperia game was released on September 17, 2010, and the movie premiered on October 3 of the same year.

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© BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc./TOV Project
Original Character Design © KOUSUKE FUJISHIMA