Toei Animation, one of Japan’s oldest animation studios, is embracing some of the industry’s newest technology.
The company is increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up animation production and cope with labor shortages. It has recently used AI software to generate animation backgrounds, and is employing a separate tool to accelerate the coloring of characters’ clothes.
In Urvan, an experimental short released in February, Toei’s in-house research team used Scenify to convert photos of Japan’s Sasebo city into images with a basic anime-like rendering (see image above). The pink-hued, cyberpunk-like backgrounds in the film were then retouched by artists. According to Scenify’s developers Preferred Networks, Scenify’s use of AI-based image processing and segmentation technologies cuts the pre-processing time to one-sixth of what it would otherwise take.