Saturday, 14 May 2011

Laputa - Castle in the Sky Complete Storyboards / 天空の城ラピュタ スタジオジブリ絵コンテ全集

With a full run already out on DVD, it’s now the turn of Blu-Ray to work its way through the Ghibli library. Hi-def masters have been slowly emerging from Japan, and gradually making their way to western territories. The films are as good as ever and the picture quality is amazing, in fact I’d be surprised if you weren’t considering buying them if you didn’t own them already.

One particular item that got my attention on these releases was the storyboards that are found in most of the extras menus. They are small sketches made in preparation of making the film dictating motion, camera angle and overall flow of the work. The DVDs provided an alternate angle option to view the storyboards in real time over the actual film, while the Blu-Rays generally have a ‘picture-in-picture’ method where a corner given over to them and both run in tandem. In both cases a quick-fire use of a pause button is required otherwise it’s a case of blink and you’ll miss it for many of the drawings. The Blu-Ray release of My Neighbours the Yamadas runs things a little differently as the storyboards are scanned in separately for a 300+ page browsing trawl. But there is an alternative to staring at the screen all day…

For those crazy or hardcore enough to want to check out the storyboards properly, Ghibli has printed virtually their entire output over in Japan. All of the Ghibli films and a good chunk of both Hayo Miyazaki’s and Isao Takahata’s older output are also available. They’re a little pricy, but considering these are normally between 400-600 pages, with Laputa here weighing in at a particularly shelf-busting 700 pages, you get an insane amount of content per book. Drawn by Miyazaki in the planning stages, each page contains five panels which are fully annotated depicting motion, camera movement and staging. Naturally as the books remain untranslated some of the nitty gritty film-making details are lost, but the pictures are clear and instantly recognisable from the final product and give a good sense of how the scenes are developed.

I really enjoy browsing this book as it’s remarkable to see a complex composition or mannerism being portrayed in just a few scant lines. It just proves to me that a good artist doesn’t need to be superbly detailed in their work, or even necessarily all that neat, just the ability to depict your idea with clarity in quite inspiring in a world of relentless pixel-perfect CG.

If you have a particular favourite Ghibli film where you absolutely love to pore over every detail that you can find, then it’s definitely worth treating yourself to one of these books. For hardened Ghibli obsessives then, but so worth it…

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