Overdone the Pigeon Cut

Makiko Futaki

Interviewer: “What led you to join ‘Laputa’?

Futaki: “I heard that Miyazaki-san was going to make a feature-length film, so I quit Telecom and was waiting while working on other works. They were ‘Night on the Galactic Railroad’, and then ‘Angel’s Egg’.”

Interviewer: There were many pigeon cuts, why was this decided?

Futaki: “I don’t remember well, but I’ve loved birds since I was young, and Miyazaki-san knew that…. Maybe that’s why. Back when I was at Telecom, I used to go to the Araiyakushi Park to feed the pigeons. Back then, feeding was not as negatively viewed as it is now. When I did it every day, I gradually became familiar with them, and they would gather around me even before I fed them. They would perch on my shoulders, head, everywhere. Pigeons are pretty heavy. It’s quite a task when seven of them perch on you (laughs).

Because their claws aren’t very strong, they tend to slip down and give you scratches. If we were to depict it realistically, Sheeta’s arms would be full of scratches.”

Interviewer: I see, so Sheeta’s acting comes from real-life experience (laughs)

Futaki: “I thought I might have overdone it with that cut. When it was in the rushes, the pigeons were too conspicuous, and the character didn’t stand out. But when the sound was added, the attention went properly to the character, so I was relieved.”

Interviewer: Does it take more effort to animate animal movements?

Futaki: “It does increase. Miyazaki-san often cautions me about it. The pigeons are animated in ‘middle-one’ (only one in-between frame), which is ‘two-frame’ animation, as standard for TV anime. The fox-squirrels were initially drawn without any in-between frames, which I did for the first cut, but I thought this wouldn’t work, so from the next one, I made it ‘middle-one’. I need to learn more efficient methods.”

Interviewer: Even if you like it, there aren’t many chances to draw birds in anime these days, are there?

Futaki: “That’s true. I was happy when I finally got to draw herons in ‘Night on the Galactic Railroad’. It’s the scene where the bird is caught in the sand. In ‘Laputa’, I also drew the cut where flamingos fly in the palace in the latter half.”

Interviewer: Which scene left an impression on you when you watched the work? It doesn’t have to be your own cut…

Futaki: “Everyone’s work was so good. It’s difficult to choose. I can’t choose just one if asked.”

Interviewer: Do you have a favorite character?

Futaki: “I like Sheeta and Pazu. If I had to choose, I’d probably go for Sheeta. My tastes are quite orthodox. Also, the fox-squirrels. Because it’s an animal that doesn’t think about anything. If it’s an animal, I really love any of them. On the other hand, I’m not very good at drawing machines.”

Makiko Futaki – Born in 1957. After graduating from university, she joined Telecom. After participating in the original drawings for “Castle in the Sky”, she has been responsible for the original drawings for many Studio Ghibli works. She has written books such as the picture book “Piske’s First Trip”.

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