Beautiful backgrounds are a staple of director Hayao Miyazaki’s animated features. Whether depicting a whimsical European village, a massive traditional bathhouse complex populated by ghosts, or a rainy bus stop in suburban Tokyo, they come to the fore in the quiet moments for which this director is also deservedly celebrated.
Given the reverence this old-fashioned artistry has inspired, it was particularly audacious of Korean filmmaker Kojer to separate some of Miyazaki’s best known characters from their hand-painted habitats, via a painstaking Rotoscoping procedure.
Their liberation was short lived, given that Kojer’s interest lay in transposing them onto live action approximations of the Studio Ghibli originals.
Shot primarily in South Korea, the new settings, above, are uncanny doppelgängers, following some vigorous Photoshopping. One wonders if Kojer experienced any regret, several hundred hours into this masochistic assignment. So many challenges---from shadows to lighting to cloudy skies in need of altering, frame by painstaking frame. The obstacles posed by semi-transparent characters such as Spirited Away’s No Face sound positively unearthly.
Clearly a labor of love from an artist whose most high profile work seems to be a webseries starring his own hand. His quest took him to Provence Village in Paju, South Korea and Seoul’s Olympic Park. He rode the #4 line subway to the end of the line and the #2 to Seokchon Lake where the American art collective FriendswithYou’s Super Moon project floated earlier this year.
The result---some of it some shot out a car window and corrected in Adobe’s Warp Stabilizer---is set to the tune of “One Summer's Day” from Spirited Away.
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.