Sony Japan has removed an animated advertisement from its Youtube account after it was revealed that the ad contained re-traced animation from the work of other artists.

The director of the spot, Kevin Bao, has also been let go by Eallin Animation, a production company for which he has produced work. (Eallin confirmed to Cartoon Brew that they were not involved in the production of the Playstation spot.) Eallin released the following statement this afternoon on Twitter:

We had no knowledge that the work produced by Kevin Bao was plagiarized. We have ceased with immediate effect any representation of Kevin Boa’s [sic] work and have contacted Kevin for a response.

UPDATE: Eallin, the company that yesterday released a statement saying that they have “ceased with immediate effect any representation” of Bao’s work, has released a second contradictory statement that now claims Bao hasn’t worked with them since 2017. They did not clarify why Bao’s work remained on their site, even though he’d been gone for two years.

The spot, “PlayStation 4 Lineup Music Video Winter Mix,” which promoted Playstation 4’s game line-up, contained scenes that were copied from other animated films including entire shots from Steven Universe: The Movie, FLCL, and Gobelins student films. While homages to the work of other animators is commonplace in the industry, copying the frame-by-frame timing and motion of another animator’s work is widely considered to be an industry taboo.

The first person to notice that their work was ripped off was animator Oleg Kositsyn, who posted about it on Twitter:

Subsequently, more people on Twitter started to identify other shots that had been lifted, at which point the French website Catsuka compiled a side-by-side comparison between the original animated works and the Playstation spot. That can be viewed below:

Kevin Bao
Kevin Bao director’s photo, with alterations to photo made by himself.

The director of the spot — China-born, Canada-raised Kevin Bao Shengrui — graduated from Tama Art University in Tokyo, Japan. Here is an excerpt from his bio, which has now been removed from the internet:

As a director, art director, and concept designer, his work crosses over many genres including commercial films, music videos, opening titles, television shows, and short films. He is experimenting with new forms of mixed media that integrates hand written animation, live action, and computer graphics. He draws inspiration from his Asian Canadian heritage which transfers to his works.

Below is Bao’s student film Someday created at Tama Art University.

Bao has removed all of the work on his social media accounts, including Instagram, Vimeo, and Tumblr. A Japanese agency that represented him, Connection, has removed his director’s page from their website.

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