15 December 1987
5.439 billion JPY (2006))
Kabushiki-gaisha Purodakushon Ai Jī
Anime, film, television, video games
Xebec, Bee Train, Mag Garden
Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Takayuki Goto
Tekken 3, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alo, Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Phantasia, The Granstream Saga
Production I.G, Inc. (株式会社プロダクション・アイジー, Kabushiki-gaisha Purodakushon Ai Jī) is a Japanese anime studio and production enterprise, founded on December 15, 1987, by Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and headquartered in Musashino, Tokyo, Japan.
- Digital compositing
- Digital storyboard
- Digital colorgrading
- Digital special effects
Production I.G has been involved in the creation of numerous anime television series, OVAs, theatrical films, and is further involved in video game design and development, as well as music publishing and management. Among its prominent works are Guilty Crown, Psycho-Pass, Eden of the East, and the Ghost in the Shell series. It is known in the video game industry for developing intros, cut-scenes, and artwork for games such as the Namco Tales Studio's title, Tales of Symphonia.
The letters I and G derive from the names of the company founders, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and popular character designer Takayuki Goto. The company is a member of The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), an association of over 50 Japanese anime studios.
Initially founded as "IG Tatsunoko Limited" in 1987, it was a break-off branch-studio of Tatsunoko Productions which created Zillion. Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, the producer of Zillion, founded the studio to obstruct the dispersing of the excellent staffs of the Tatsunoko branch. The members of the Tatsunoko Production annex, "鐘夢" (pronounced "chaimu" after the English "chime"), which led by Takayuki Goto joined the Ishikawa's Tatsunoko Branch that used the same floor of Goto's annex and Goto was also the character designer of Zillion. Kyoto Animation, one of the finishers of Zillion, supported Ishikawa and the "IG Tatsunoko Limited" was founded on December 15, 1987. The "IG" was named after the initials of Ishikawa and Goto. The initial shareholders of the studio were Ishikawa, Goto, Hideaki Hatta (Kyoto Animation) and Tatsunoko Production, etc.
Among Production I.G's earliest most notable works was the feature length cinematic anime adaptation of the Patlabor story, created by the group HEADGEAR. In 1993, during the final stages of the production of Patlabor 2 the company ended capital relation to Tatsunoko Production that had 20% of the stocks of I.G and changed its name to the current "Production I.G" on September 1993. Thus, the movie Patlabor 2, released on August 1993, became the last product bearing the name "IG Tatsunoko".
In early 1997 Koichi Mashimo a fellow Tatsunoko employee presented an idea of his to President Ishikawa. Mashimo had conceived the idea of a small studio that could work on small productions and "nurture" the creative spirit of its staff members. Ishikawa liked the idea and sponsored Mashimo's endeavor and studio Bee Train Animation Inc. was formed as a subsidiary company. Production I.G and Ishikawa helped supervise and produce the early productions such as PoPoLoCrois Monogatari, Wild Arms: Twilight Venom, and Arc the Lad. Along with Xebec it was the second subsidiary company under I.G. In 2006, Bee Train became independent and Ishikawa stepped down as an executive in the company. The two studios would team up again in 2008 to work on Blade of the Immortal, Batman: Gotham Knight, and again in 2010 for Halo Legends.
In 1998, the company incorporated to become "Production I.G, Inc." Following that, Production I.G merged with "ING", another production company founded by the same Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, in 2000. In a Q&A session Ishikawa said:
It [The I.G in Production I.G] stands for two words itsumo (always) and genki (happy); you should ask is that true? In reality it stands for Ishikawa, and my artist collaborator’s name Takayuki Goto, the initials of our last names. But now though I am the sole president, we kept the name. But I am happy to say it means Itsumo Genki.
On July 4, 2007, the company announced merger with Mag Garden, forming a new holding company called IG Port.
Production I.G have been involved in the production of several anime television series, OVA and theatrical films, such as the Patlabor and the Ghost in the Shell series, The End of Evangelion, Blood: The Last Vampire, Blood+, xxxHolic, the FLCL OVA series, Pokémon the Movie: Black—Victini and Reshiram and White—Victini and Zekrom, Guilty Crown, Otogi Zoshi anime, and many others.
They have produced each of the anime adaptations of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell series, including the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex television series, which was followed on into a second season, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG, and a TV film, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society, all three of which were directed by Kenji Kamiyama, and the two theatrical film adaptations, which were directed by Mamoru Oshii.
They have also worked with Clamp, producing the xxxHolic anime television series, which aired in 2006, as well as its theatrical film adaptation, xxxHolic - A Midsummer Night's Dream, the OVAs Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations and Tsubasa Shunraiki, and theatrical film adaptation Tsubasa Chronicle - The Princess of the Birdcage Kingdom; and most recently, the Blood franchise.
2006 saw the release of the new Mamoru Oshii's movie, Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters, made with a new technique called "superlivemation."
"It's like my home," Oshii declared of I.G in an interview with Andrez Bergen for Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri. "It's like Manchester for Manchester United, and Hamburg for HSV (the soccer teams). They know the pitch in whatever condition and situations. However," he added meaningfully, "it doesn't necessarily mean that I can do anything I want to at I.G"
In 2007, the studio commemorated its 20th year anniversary with Shinreigari/Ghost Hound, which it co-created with Ghost in the Shell creator Masamune Shirow. The series was directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura and written by Chiaki J. Konaka.
In 2008, they unveiled two other TV series, Library War and Real Drive - again in collaboration with Masamune Shirow on the latter project - and released Mamoru Oshii's latest movie, The Sky Crawlers.
In 2009 the studio engages themselves in another wide project, Eden of the East, starting with an 11 episode TV series (which was later compiled in a theatrical movie) and concluded in two other movies released in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
In 2012, the studio worked in collaboration with Nintendo to release the three-part series "Thanatos Rising" on Nintendo Video for the upcoming video game Kid Icarus: Uprising. They also collaborated with Nintendo to do the FMV cutscenes for Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
In 2013, the studio worked in collaboration with the newly established Wit Studio, another subsidiary of IG Port, providing assistance for the production of the popular anime adaptation of the Attack on Titan manga series. It also worked with OLM, Inc. and Xebec in Pokémon Origins.
Inroads into Hollywood have been made by the company in the form of visual homages from the highly successful sci-fi film directed by the Wachowskis, The Matrix, and by creating the animated sequence in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1. In 2003, Production I.G collaborated with Cartoon Network in producing a 25-minute (five episodes of five minutes each) "micro-series" IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix, which has been made into a full series of 26 full thirty-minute episodes in 2005.
Production I.G is one of the forerunners of digital animation techniques. While not exclusive in their usage of computer technology, they are given praise for their advances in digital compositing, digital effects, digital image/story boarding, and digital color grading. Because of this, some prefer to refer to Production I.G as an 'animation lab' rather than a studio.
The film Ghost in the Shell marked the first ever overlay of computer generated visuals onto a hand drawn background. Surprisingly, many of the digital looking effects in the film were laboriously hand produced.
Production I.G's advances in digital cinematography techniques have been credited in no small part to Effects Director Hisashi Ezura (江面 久), Director Hiroyuki Kitakubo (北久保 弘之), Animator Norifumi Kiyozumi (清積 紀文). Their first application of digital techniques was presented in the animated cut sequences for the Sony PlayStation game, Ghost in the Shell.
The first feature-length animated film to use this digital manipulation by Production I.G was Blood: The Last Vampire released in 2000. This found the comprehensive usage of digital technology in a largely seamless manner. From this production onward, digital effects were used in almost every one of their projects including Sakura Wars: The Movie, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, MiniPato, and Innocence.
Traditional compositing had physical limitations on the number of layers being placed into the final film. Care was also needed in making the individual layers be compatible with each other, so that one would not conflict with another.
With the advance of digital compositing, the discrete layers could be edited in groups, and lighting effects could be applied to the entire frame, or to each layer selectively. This greatly helped the production of Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke by creating a depth of field previously unseen in an animated feature. In Blood: The Last Vampire, this also contributed into having a deep, and hitherto unseen active background supporting the foreground characters.
More recently, further development and experimentation has allowed for the seamless addition of computer generated images, objects and characters into a traditional hand-drawn scene. For example, the Tachikoma Think-Tanks of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex are 3D computer models composited into the scene. This has allowed for repeated mechanical objects to be unified in appearance.
The storyboard is not an aspect of production that finds its way into the finished product. The production process of an anime traditionally breaks the larger whole into smaller sections handled by specific key-frame animators. This allowed for specific artists to show their individual talents, but also created some discontinuity in style.
Production I.G has created a position called the "Screen Architect" who builds the atmosphere and feel of a scene. This is accomplished by creating a storyboard which has the same effects as the finished product applied to it. Prior to digital image manipulation, the application of effects such as lighting, blurs and shadows was done manually and consumed much time.
This allowed the production crews to visualize and unify the visual feel of a film. Combined with digital compositing, this further strengthened the power of post production editing and allowed for fine-tuning of the final product's visual presentation.
Colorgrading is a fine-tuning post-production process which controls the colors presented in a scene. Animation differs from live-action filming in its ability to choose the colors that the cels are being painted in. This allows for a much more controlled visual environment. This advantage is however lost in the lack of control after the color is painted on the cel.
Digital colorgrading allows for multiple layers to be edited at once, and was used in Blood: The Last Vampire to build a very specific unified color palette. Within the limited color palette, specific colors were enhanced to draw the attention of the viewer in a way difficult to paint in the cel.
The subtle nature of the manipulation is the power of colorgrading, as it contributes to the scene without being noticed. It continues to be used in Production I.G's films without being overtly noticed.
Digital special effects
Production I.G is known for creating analog effects digitally. For traditional hand-drawn animation, often analog effects easily created on film are difficult to reproduce.
The less obvious digital contributions into an analog scene include lens effects such as the fish-eye lens, motion blur to more vividly portray movement, instability in the focus of the camera, unstable light exposure, lighting effects such as shadows, and gun muzzle flashes.
Tokyo Marble Chocolate was awarded the Grand Prize in the Feature Film Category of the 12th Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival (SICAF 2008), held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from May 21 to 25, 2008.
The jury was composed of Giannalberto Bendazzi (a professor of the history of animation at Milano State University in Italy), Noriko T. Wada (a Japanese producer) and Kyung-jo Min (a South Korean director). The award ceremony took place in Seoul on May 25, 2008.