Animators, Researchers Develop Automated Technique for Coloring Anime

Brief Project Information

Most animation studios have to stick to a visual style and formula that is proven to successful before because they have to spend a large amount of time to create the animations. Now researchers in Japan are trying to build an AI tool which can colourize automatically so that artists can try more ideas and visual styles.

More information about the project

The following content is cited from Japanese animation production companies Imagica Group and OLM Digital have joined forces with the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) to develop a technique for automatic coloring within anime production. Imagica Group is a production company that specializes in video production duties, including filming, dubbing, editing, restoration, and streaming. One of their subsidiary groups is Oriental Light and Magic (OLM), the production studio of the Pokémon anime. The OLM group specializes in both 2D and 3D animation, as well as visual effects. The coloring technique developed by the researchers is based on recent advances of machine-based deep learning. The researchers developed a color script to correspond with the different segments of an image, which is then applied by an algorithm capable of machine learning. These techniques have been applied widely in various fields, such as coloring black-and-white photos, although the researchers claim to be the first to develop a technique for automatic coloring in Japanese anime production in particular. Although this technique is still in the preliminary research stage, the research team has stated their intent to improve the accuracy for commercial use. The team predicts that the results of their research will be ready for commercial use beginning in 2020. This technique will be presented at SIGGRAPH Asia 2018, an international conference on computer graphics. Ken Anjyo, the Research and Development supervisor at OLM Digital, will be the chair of SIGGRAPH Asia 2018. The conference will be held in Tokyo from December 4 to 7. Publishers have recently used artificial intelligence to color manga pages. Hakusensha began using developer Taizan's PaintsChainer automatic coloring software to create color versions of Akira Hagio's josei romance manga Kekkon x Renai and Asuka Sora's romance manga Watashi-tachi xx Shimashita. Keisuke Iwata, president of Japan's anime television network AT-X, spoke last year about how anime production processes could be "completely replaced by AI." Advances in the industry have led some anime studios, such as Polygon Pictures, to embrace technological and other forms of progress. However, some members of the anime industry remain skeptical that AI and CGI can save the industry because it can potentially put animators out of work.

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By saving the artists from the tedious job of making the animations, AI technology will boost the artists' innovation.

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