The Art of Steamboy Part I : The Storyboards

Otomo Katsuhiro’s epic animated film “Steamboy” can best be described as a botched masterpiece – the project was infamous for taking almost 10 years to complete ( there was lull period in the middle as production halted due to budget issues ), and when it was finally released in 2004 interest in the project had waned. I remember catching the film at Roppongi Hill’s swanky Toho Cinema and had practically the whole theatre to myself.

Years later I joined Steamboy Studios Sunrise ( see pic below ) to work on Freedom Project, and had the fortitude of meeting many of the amazing artists behind the film, including Otomo Katsuhiro himself.

Anyhow, imperfect as Steamboy was, the film had some of the most astounding artwork created for an animated feature; let’s begin by taking a look at the storyboards :

Page after page of incredibly detailed boards for the film, all 770 pages of them housed in this hardback book. The boards give the reader a very comprehensive look at the layout, camera move, actions involved in each cut.

(above ) Love the small little tidbits of information / scribbles with explanatory notes and sketches.

How much time Otomo-san spent on these beautiful boards I cannot fathom – certainly, they are a veritable work of art themselves.

(below) A glossary of terms used in Japanese anime storyboarding – it took me a while to remember all of them when I first started out working in Sunrise.

“Steamboy The Storyboard book” artbook details :

– Dimensions – 8.4 x 5.9 x 2 inches
– Hardcover with jacket, 780 pages
– Black and White

Stay tuned for Part II. Anyone else feel Steamboy was a missed opportunity at a grand masterpiece ?

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