Astro Boy, the long-awaited animated film version by Imagi Studios of the iconic Japanese manga character, was created using a Maya-based, around-the-clock production pipeline spanning Hong Kong and Hollywood
Astro Boy made its cinematic debut as a fully animated feature film in late October 2009, but Osamu Tezuka’s manga series about the permanently youthful robot boy first appeared in the 1950s. Quickly gaining popularity, it was developed into a black-and-white televised cartoon in 1963 – the first Japanese TV series with an aesthetic that later became known worldwide as anime.
Imagi Studios invested $65 million to create Astro Boy with a Pacific-spanning production pipeline. This included concept and character development, script writing and preliminary design work by its Los Angeles team, while a Hong Kong team of more than 400 artists focused on modelling, texturing, animation, lighting, rendering and compositing.
Francis Kao, founder and creative director of Imagi Studios, said Maya had been chosen as animation platform for Astro Boy “because of its openness, creative tools and large pool of trained artists.”
“We relied on the software’s powerful feature set,” continued Kao. “Our programmers also developed custom plug-ins for Maya, enabling us to efficiently create high-quality animation.”
“For Astro Boy foliage simulation we used the Maya software’s paint effects together with our in-house plug-in,” said Johnny Mak, head of technical operations at Imagi Studios. “Having relied on Maya for many years, we’ve seen great advancements in the software’s capabilities. It continually helps us deliver world-class animation.”
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All Astro Boy images are © Imagi Crystal Limited / Original Manga © Tezuka Productions Co. Ltd.