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E&G tracks down ani skein ‘Inspector’

E&G tracks down ani skein 'Inspector'

Tokyo’s E&G Films Japan and its Indonesian studios have turned a bug’s life into one of crime.

“Inspector Fabre,” an animated TV series airing in Japan, tells the story of a private detective who uses his entomology background to solve mysteries, tracking down villains by examining the ecological traces left at the scene of the crime.

Inspired by “The Diary of Insects,” written by 19th-century French entomologist and author Jean Henri Fabre, all of the characters, including Fabre, are portrayed as insects. Historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Alexander Dumas, Jules Verne and Napoleon III appear in the guise of bugs, as well.

Four shows a month

E&G Films, using Cambridge Animation Systems’ Animo software, is producing 26 22-minute episodes of “Inspector Fabre,” requiring the studio to complete about four shows a month.

“When we are basically putting together an episode a week, we need to run the software at its limits. Animo has outperformed even our expectations of what can be done,” says Hector Baez, the studio’s CG department manager.

All cell work for the animated series is completed in E&G Films’ Indonesian studio. Animators there use Animo’s scanning, image processing and ink and paint modules to complete two or three episodes simultaneously.

Work completed in Indonesia is sent to Japan for compositing of all painted cells, backgrounds and overlays.

“If the painters in Indonesia need a color model from the color stylist in Japan, it is sent via e-mail and arrives immediately. Because there are no shipping delays, the animators in Indonesia are able to paint up to 240 cells a day,” Baez said.

Apparently, the only long-distance difficulty is that the painters in Indonesia have become so fast that the in-betweeners are having problems keeping up.

E&G Films entirely completes 85% of the compositing for “Inspector Fabre.” The remaining episodes are subcontracted to one of several Japanese studios (Noside, Asahi Production, D-Volt and Multi-Access Co.) that run Animo on NT and SGI platforms.

“Animo’s great cross-platform integration has proven to be invaluable in our current outsourcing situation,” Baez said.

E&G Films, founded 30 years ago by Koji Hagiwara, expanded in 1990 to include a staff of 200 in a branch office and studio in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 1999, both studios went fully digital. In addition to “Inspector Fabre,” the studio has produced the “Slayers” trilogy, “Fortune Quest” and “Lost Universe” TV series.

* * *

Lights, cameras and music filled the California Film Commission’s office recently as the site became the location for a Danish musicvideo. A producer for the video was researching venues in the Commission’s Location Resource Center when he realized the office provided exactly the look he needed.

The commission office cubicles will be seen as a block of toiling workers in a remote workspace. The video’s hero eventually sings himself free of the gloomy environment and into a world of parties and beaches.

“The California Film Commission is pleased to be hosting a music video,” CFC director Karen Constine said. “When the production company asked for permission to use the offices, we quickly organized everything they needed to ensure they received red carpet treatment while filming in California. We think they’ll be pleased with the results.” The commission also waived any fees for the use of their office.

Fifth Wheel Prods. in London is the production company for the video, which will air in Denmark. Simon Baker directed, and Daniel Harrow produced.

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