The exponential democratization of digital technology every year has led to a wealth of video essays and fan films from bedroom auteurs, the likes of which would have been unimaginable even five years ago To wit: this beautiful tribute to the works of Hayao Miyazaki, Japan’s anime god, and his Studio Ghibli. A typical fan video would have edited together a “best of” clip show, using a song to link the scenes. But a Paris-based animator named "Dono" has gone one step further and created a tribute where scenes and characters from Miyazaki all frolic about a 3-D modeled world, where the bathhouse from Spirited Away is rendered in all of its glory, and Totoro’s catbus is only a few blocks away from Kiki’s Delivery Service, and next door to Porco Rosso's favorite hangout. Even Lupin III, not Miyazaki's original creation, but who starred in the director's first feature, gets a look in.
It’s very charming, and judging from Dono’s other work on his Vimeo channel, a huge step up and no doubt a labor of love. And here’s the other thing about this seamless work of fan art. In the past, the software and the computing power needed to make such a film would have been both prohibitively expensive and the domain of a design company. For this tribute, three of the four software programs named in its creation--Gimp, Blender, and Natron--are free and open-source, and run on a laptop. (The fourth, Octane, costs a little bit of money.)
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.