SIGNAL-MD was established in 2014 as the fourth "IG Board Group" production company affiliated with such companies as Production I.G. The company creates digital drawings for TV animation series such as Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note as well as promotional videos and television commercials.
We visited SIGNAL-MD to find out more about why they use CLIP STUDIO PAINT EX, our painting tool with commercial animation production features, the effects it has had and its use in the animation production flow.
SIGNAL-MD was established in 2014 to produce content centered on digital drawing.
We belong to a team called "digital group" which is working towards achieving "full digital drawings". We are aiming to become "generalists" who are able to use a wide variety of tools and who are not limited by the type of software they use.
Our first introduction to this software happened when we were helping on the original images, moving images and finishing touches for "City Hunter", produced by Kamikaze Douga Co., Ltd. When I saw a test cut, I was so surprised at how clearly images were rendered in CSP.
After that, Mr. Kubotabee who is the director in charge of the MV animation part said he wanted to do the Momokuro MV animation part in digital drawings. In fact, Mr. Kubotabee was already using CSP, and it was just at the time when the animation functions were officially released in CSP, so we thought we would us it.
Three staff members were involved, and each person was in charge of the original images, moving images and finishing touches for their own cuts. The amount of work could probably have been done just by one person, but our company is structured so that each team member works on a number of jobs simultaneously in order to share know-how.
We often do a number of retakes when making commercials or promotional videos based on feedback such as "we want to make the lines a bit thicker" in order to improve the overall appearance. We were able to correct lines immediately using the line width correction function because we had created the images using vector lines.
The starting, ending and drawing quality of lines are really important for animators, and these are remarkably better in CSP. The software is fully equipped with all of the functions we need in this industry. Functions such as light table and onion skin can be operated with a simple touch of a button. Even though the same functions are available in other software, these functions are a lot easier to use and understand in CSP. There is a large number of tutorials that you can learn from as you work.
There is also a large amount of materials and tools made by other users. All tools are shared between the team at work, but I download various different materials and brushes for use at home.
Animations involve a large number of people. You have to be able to draw quickly while maintaining quality in order to keep to the overall schedule. If you have the strong will to draw your own type of drawing, it is going to stand out unnaturally in the overall production. You will become stronger by allowing your individually to merge with other styles while at the same time creating a sanctuary of your strong points where you don't want to compromise on style.
In order to do this, you need to trace pictures or works by your favorite animators in order to completely copy their styles.
As social networking sites are so popular now, it is also important to get used to having other people see your work.
It is also important to stay physically healthy as well as mentally strong.
One advantage of digital drawing is that one person can handle a number of processes, enabling a broader range of expression. However, we also want to promote the unique qualities of digital drawing, not just simply replace paper with digital media.
Taking that logic to the extreme, we need to be able to work even if there is no producer. There are fewer mistakes if the person who has done the drawing handles their own data.
For this reason, our Digital Group essentially hires people as employees in order to train them as "generalists" who can work under any environment.
It is difficult to find existing animation companies or freelance animators who are able to do this.
This is why we want to continue collaborating and cooperating with other companies and maintain the ability to respond flexibly to a wide range of situations, without being restricted by one digital drawing production flow.
When working on music videos, we need to time the images to the music. At present it is not possible to import audio into PAINT itself, so we think the software would be even more valuable if this was possible.
Also, we want it to stay reasonable! To be really honest, we don't want to see the price go higher every time a new function is added. We hope the pricing remains in the current reasonable price band.
SIGNAL-MD was established in 2014 as the fourth production company of the IG Port Group, under the principle of "maintaining a hub-like existence that will encourage reorganization in the entire global industry", a principle they believe is necessary to survive in the Japanese animation industry.
The environment surrounding the animation industry will become even more harsh in the future, with even greater demands for faster change.
In light of these changes, they believe it is important to return to their roots and place the most importance on "people" in all ways possible.
They are hoping to expand their current business globally through the connections between "people".