Princess Mononoke (computer graphics)

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About 15 minutes of CG (Computer Graphics) were used in Mononoke Hime. Of those, 10 minutes are the scenes that used digital ink & paint only. The remaining 5 minutes used various CG techniques, such as texture mapping, 3D rendering, morphing, particles, and digital composition. The goal when using CG in Mononoke Hime was "CG which doesn't look like CG". An enormous amount of care was taken to blend CG and cel-animation seamlessly.

A new CG room was set up at Ghibli for the production of Mononoke Hime. By the end of the production, Ghibli had two servers, 21 desktop client computers, and peripherals such as printers and scanners. The filming division also uses computers for filming and digital composition. Except for the film recording, which was done by the film laboratory IMAGICA, almost all CG-related work was done at Ghibli.

3D Rendering

In this scene, the snake-like feelers of Tatari-Gami were animated using three-dimensional CG rendering.

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The wire frame of the feelers. The 3D model of the feelers was made on the computer, with various data such as perspectives from every angle, shades, and movements.

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The model rendered by 3D rendering software. It looks like a "CG image".

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The model painted by "Toonshader", shading software that alters CG images to have a more "cel-like" look. The software was developed by cooperation between Ghibli and Microsoft.

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The snakes are then composed with the background and Ashitaka (hand animated).

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Tatari Gami in this scene was entirely CG (including the arrow). However, it was too time consuming to animate it with CG everywhere, so it was hand animated in other scenes.

Texture Mapping

In scenes where the background needs to move as the camera moves, background animation is typically used. Since background animation traditionally uses cels, the backgrounds in such scenes look very different from the very detailed backgrounds painted by the art department. Texture mapping makes it possible to "move" background pictures.

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The 3D model of the terrain where the scene takes place. The model was calculated with many parameters, such as the undulations of the land and the speed with which the camera zooms in.

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The foreground. The pictures painted by the art department were "mapped" onto the model made by the CG department. In this way, the high quality paintings done by the artists can now be made to move.

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By composing the background and the foreground, and moving them in the computer, you can get the effect of the camera tracking in. The background gradually appears as the camera moves in.

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The snakes are then composed with the background and Ashitaka (hand animated).


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The key animation of the rotting Tatari Gami. Instead of drawing in-betweens, the morphing technology makes "in-betweens" of these three pictures by reshaping and overlapping them.

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The morphing technology was also used in the scene where plants grow back at the end of the film.


The "stars" inside Didarabocchi were made using CG.

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Particles were made in the wire frame 3D model of Didarabocchi. To make the particles fit well with the rest of the pictures, colors and shapes were manipulated.

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Particles were calculated with many parameters such as gravity, wind, and the direction the particles should move.

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The model to set the flow of the particles.

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The final screen image. Particles are composed with the hand-animated Didarabocchi.

Digital Composition

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Components were made separately, and then digitally composed.

Compared to optical composition, digital composition can deal with complex movements and effects, since the technology makes it possible to compose many layers.

In total, 5 layers were composed in this scene.

Digital Ink & Paint

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In Mononoke Hime, about 10,000 pieces of drawing were painted digitally, including the CG scenes. Softimage's Toonz was the software used at Ghibli.

Near the end of the production, it turned out that there was not enough manpower to paint 5,000 remaining cels. To make the deadline, Ghibli bought five computers, and drafted animators who had finished their job to paint the 5,000 digitally.