What is a "producer?" I wonder what impression this title creates among people who aren't familiar with the work of a producer. I'm sure there are many people who imagine a producer as someone who acts self-important without doing any real work. In reality, these images may fit some producers. The following bullet points are an explanation of the work which I actually perform, and some things which may not be considered work.
Now, I'm sure that if I write such an exhaustive list, I won't be accused of doing nothing. In actuality, my work spans a variety of areas. However, if I were to omit details and explain my work as simply as possible, it would be as follows: Determine how to efficiently use money in order to secure the necessary staff and equipment, with the ultimate goal of creating highly-finished animation. In my profession, the final animation work is everything. However, how that animation is created is extremely important. After all, animation doesn't create itself.
Incidentally, when I looked up the word "produce" in an English-Japanese dictionary, I couldn't find a Japanese translation which perfectly fits the content of my profession. However, the closest Japanese definition is "a producer (of agricultural crops, etc.)." In other words, when comparing animation to agricultural crops, a producer's job is to "sow the seeds, prepare an environment in which buds will sprout, and then harvest the results." To add further explanation, in order to create the highest-quality work, a producer is someone who passionately yet rationally considers the best person to entrust with the job (since I can’t draw). Although it may appear like I am simply enjoying socializing when I go eating and drinking with staff members, I am actually trying to foster communication...although I must admit, I do enjoy it myself!
There is a reason why I chose to enter this profession. I have always loved animation such as Gundam, Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell, and I originally wanted to create animation. I wanted a first-hand look at the process involved in creating such outstanding works. Even more, I was impudent enough to believe that I could create such works myself (I still believe it). However, I didn't have the slightest idea in what way I could become involved in animation. To be honest, I can say with confidence that my art is worse than any elementary school student. Despite my lack of talent, I dreamed of being involved in animation production. I agonized over my career path. At first, I dreamt of becoming a lawyer and handling copyrights, but of course life isn't that easy. I'm not the smartest guy, and I wasn't able to become a lawyer. Then, one day, I found a help-wanted ad for production assistants on the homepage of Production I.G. I was overjoyed to learn that there was a job where I could be involved in animation production even though I'm not a skilled artist. I applied immediately. (It is customary to start as a production assistant and then work your way up to become an onsite producer as you improve your skills.)
Although I was fortunate enough to land a job at Production I.G., the fun stopped there. I was a complete amateur in the field, and I couldn't understand anything about image production or the specialized terminology used in the workplace. In fact, I struggled so much that I came down with whooping cough and mycoplasma antibodies. Even so, thanks to the stimulation of receiving instruction from leading professionals, my initial feeling of anguish gradually turned to one of pleasure as I became more involved with the production of animation works. I guess you could say that I enjoyed the abuse!
Currently, I am working on the new animation series Colorful Ninja Iromaki. Although animation drawn on paper is still prevalent in the industry, this new series is done almost completely digitally. Recently, R&D in digital drawing is a rising trend in the industry. Digital drawing refers to using digital data for work in layout, key animations, in-between animations and other processes which are normally performed using paper. The aim of digital drawing is to realize paperless work. Our current project is completely based on trial-and-error.
Digital drawing offers a large number of rational economic benefits. Specifically, since the physical limitations of paper no longer apply, it is possible to reduce costs associated with paper and shipping, to shorten transfer time, to reduce archive space, to simplify previewing, and to quicken searching. Furthermore, digital drawing also offers benefits in terms of quality. For example, it is possible to prevent unintended deterioration of lines when scanning paper drawings in order to make digital copies. Digital drawing also holds the key for high-resolution technology which supports 4K and 8K Ultra HD televisions.
However, digital drawing has yet to rival the convenience of paper. There are still many instances in which we are forced to rely on paper during production. Through this project, I have realized that paper itself was an outstanding invention. On another note, although there have been major technological innovations in both software and hardware during the past 10 years, there are still very few people who utilize such advanced technology. Consequently, a major theme in my future work is to ensure the inheritance of technique by converting staff who are skilled in paper drawing into staff who are skilled in digital drawing.