Since I was a kid I've always been fascinated by animation in movies and TV programmes. I love how it can make magical things happen and look real without the use of editing and/or CGI.

Animation can have many different styles and is a very powerful tool when making films. My first love of animation came from when I watched studio ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. Specifically in Spirited Away, the extremely complex bathhouse, and all of the details and hidden aspects of the animation captivated me. The characters are very creative and the movie in general was amazing and I definitely recommend it. In this article I will take a deep dive into animation, and how it is used in some of my favourite films.

Animation dates back to ancient times, when simple images being changed slightly resulted in a choppy animation. However, over time it has developed to become this extremely life-like and powerful medium that in my opinion has some of the best movies created to this day. A great example of an amazing animator is Hayao Miyazaki, who has produced many amazing films like Spirited Away and Kiki's Delivery Service.

Spirited Away is an animated film that was made in the year of 2001 by Hayao Miyazaki. The film is about a girl named Chihiro who ventures into a hidden world by accident, amongst spirits, Gods, and anything you can imagine. It has an extremely captivating plot and is filled with beautiful hand drawn animation.

Miyazaki does all of the writing, directing and drawing himself. He makes very detailed storyboards. He even writes song lyrics himself. This just shows he’s an amazing animator who has a very unique vision and a great talent. All of his animation is hand drawn, which is extremely impressive and very unique, as today it’s all mainly computer generated. I think this adds to the aspects of the movie that a lot of people around the world love, as it feels so personal.

The animators of Spirited Away observe lots of things in real life which help to make the film really realistic. For example, when Chihiro taps her shoes on the ground to make sure they are snug. This is a very childlike action that viewers might not notice but overall adds to the sheer wonder of the film.

The steps of animating in Spirited Away.

First of all the animation team go over their drawing boards together in a meeting and make sure to focus on the little details. They draw from real life experiences, for example visiting a dog to observe how a hand would look being pushed into a dragon’s mouth. This is what makes their films really realistic. After they have drawn everything, all the work is collected by Miyazaki so that he can ‘fix all of them’.

These drawings are the foundation of the movie and are called key drawings.

These key drawings describe the highlight points of the story and the basic movement, but they do not tell the entire scene. The next step is to add ‘in between animations’ which help add motion in between the key drawings.

These are then coloured and fit with the background.

These are the steps that Miyazaki uses to achieve his very effective and world renowned animated movies. If you are looking to start animating yourself, I recommend trying to follow some of these steps as it is proven how effective they are based on Miyazaki's creations.

Thank you so much for reading my article, and I hope that these steps can give you an insight into Miyazaki's amazing mind.

Thank you again.

Lyra Hamilton, young reporters scheme