April 14, 2021

Rotoscoping Behind the Scenes in “On-Gaku: Our Sound”

Rotoscoping is the process of creating animated sequences, by tracing over live-action footage frame by frame.

Over seven years in production later, with over 40,000 hand drawn frames On-Gaku: Our Sound is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of working in independent animation.

But of course, production doesn’t come without its challenges! In early production notes, on the film’s production process, Director Kenji Iwaisawa stated 

“I was able to realize this project with effort and guts. I didn’t have the budget, so I was prepared to complete it using time, no matter how long it took.”

To put together his production, Director Iwaisawa put together a small but passionate team of animators. Iwaisawa described the team’s assembly as such: 

“So many people helped me during the seven and a half years. Since we had no budget, hardly any professional animators were involved. It was mostly a gathering of people who had no experience in creating anime… I was not in a position to be able to pick staff, so I recruited them on social media sites. From there, I gathered people who were good at illustrations and designs and also those who were interested in the project.” 

Director Iwaisawa did have a very clear reasoning for why he chose for this film to be made using rotoscoped animation, and shared some thoughts on the medium’s future in animation as well, stating that 

“For this project, I wanted to take a different approach from other directors. I thought that if I used rotoscoping to trace live-action to make it into animation, the hybrid of both forms would make it unique. If you use rotoscoping efficiently, you can save money and time. I think it will become an important method for indie animation in Japan. I don’t think I could have completed On-Gaku: Our Sound if I had tried to do it the conventional way on this low budget. I was able to complete it in seven and a half years because of rotoscoping.” 

In this clip, take a look behind the scenes at the pre-and post rotoscoped animation brought to life by Kenji Iwaisawa and his team.

Interested in other titles that use rotoscope animation? Check out The Case of Hana & Alice, from famed writer-director Shunji Iwai! 


On-Gaku: Our Sound is now available on Digital Download, and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.


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