Japanese animation studio Craftar took to the stage at Unite Tokyo 2019 to talk about the new possibilities that Unity brings to the Japanese animation industry.
Few Japanese studios have explored the potential of Unity as a production tool for anime because they don’t know if its real-time improvements to their workflow can deliver the extremely high-quality animation that audiences demand. But as visionary studios like Craftar have found, Unity streamlines their production pipeline and delivers incredible results, while also creating new opportunities.
The many achievements of Craftar, which is the consulting arm of major Japanese PR company Hakuhodo Inc., include world-class content such as the Netflix anime INGRESS and 2019 animated film The Relative Worlds. The latter, produced by its subsidiary animation company, Craftar Studios, implemented Unity in several difficult scenes. (You can see how Craftar worked with Unity’s NavMesh feature here.)
This fall, global auto parts supplier Denso Corporation reached out to Craftar to create an animated promotional video showcasing Denso’s vision for a near-future smart city, highlighting the ways that VR and AR content could be integrated into self-driving cars. The entire animation was rendered in real-time with Unity and can be viewed as either a VR or a standard film experience.
Using Unity, Craftar was able to seamlessly create the animation and VR content simultaneously. The result is an experience that immerses viewers inside an anime world that’s as captivating as a standard animated film, thanks to Unity’s real-time rendering capabilities.
During the Keynote at Unite Tokyo 2019, Shoichi Furuta, CEO and creative director of Craftar, explained Craftar’s philosophy towards animation: “Our company doesn’t just make animation, we use animation to tackle issues in the industry and in society.” The company is driven by “smart CG animation,” its vision to push the industry forward using the latest technologies like real-time engines and AI – which ultimately led them to choose Unity to create the beloved, richly expressive Japanese anime style using cel shaders.
“We at Craftar have only just begun bringing our wealth of expertise into Unity, which will soon become one of the core engines of life and society,” said Furuta. “We’re in an age where everything from smartphones to cars is going digital, which is massively expanding the UX/UI market. It’s essential for every interface to have excellent motion design, and Japanese animation expertise is invaluable when it comes to delivering abundant information in a short time with limited resources.”
The innovative Denso project blurred the line between the entertainment and automotive industries, Furuta explained. “Thanks to Unity helping to bridge the gap between the anime industry and the automotive industry, we’ve even been able to smoothly overcome the barriers between businesses and between devices, and bring two previously unrelated industries in Japan closer together.” Using Unity, Craftar intends to continue not only to push the boundaries of games and anime but to also break through the walls between other industries.