The past few years have been filled with talks about how the anime industry should streamline production to alleviate the workload animators face. After all, there has been an explosion in production despite staff shortages. While the variety of new shows is great for fans, the industries pleas for help has fallen upon deaf ears — until now
Production companies Imagica Group and OLM Digital are teaming up with the Nara Institue of Science and Technology (NAIST) to create an automatic coloring technique to help relieve some of the stress for lower-ranking staffers.
Imagica Group specializes in video production and OLM is studio best known for animating the Pokémon franchise. They are combining their expertise with the recent advances of machine-based deep learning. While still in the preliminary stage, the team developed a color script that applies pigments to different segments of an image. Similar tech has been showcased in the past, but they were limited to simple images and a shallow color palette.
You’ll still need animators to draw the line art, but automizing coloring could theoretically allow artists more time to improve their skill or draw extra frames for smoother animation.
Imagica Group and OLM believe that they are on track towards creating the first automatic coloring program that can be applied to animation. It requires more precision and a wider color palette that tech showed in the past, and everything needs to be consistent for motion. The team will present the program at SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 with plans to for commercial use in 2020.
Animation studios are slowly embracing the use of CGI to streamline production, and only time will tell if A.I. will enter the industry’s repertoire.