Sakuga: In-Seung Choi – Bender of Frame and Motion

-My first Sakuga Post on my blog. It took quite a while to actually get to it, because of Studying and Umineko and Dark Souls and Devil May Cry and (….). First I thought It would take even longer but then I met the work of In-Seung Choi and with that I immediately knew what my first Sakuga Post on this blog will be about.

Do you remember my post about Sejoon Kim on imgur? He is a favourite if not the favourite animator of mine as he combines two things in his animation I absolutely love (Mecha and Explosions) in some really damn good pieces of animation. He is a Korean Freelance animator that worked several times in the japanese anime industry, his most recent works in said industry include scenes in Gundam Thunderbolt and The Asterisk War (say what you want about Asterisk War, but this scene is sick).

So Korean Animation has been on my screen for quite a while thanks to Kim and then thanks to twitter retweets I came to meet another Korean animator who blows my head off with his work.

This is how I got introduced to the animatio of In Seung Choi. Let’s take a look at the first time I encountered his animation with knowledge of him being the animator.

Source: Sakugabooru

This is from a promo video for an online game called “Cyphers”. I heard that it is a rather bad MOBA or a “worse version of SMITE” but this is certainly not what I want to talk about here. What I want to talk about is, if you haven’t guessed it already, the great animation which is already present at the very beginning looking at how clothes and hair are everything else but motionless. As the fight begins projectiles are shot towards the girl in the dress. She evades them by quickly moving between objects and putting up a shield. Something you may want to remember is how much movement is involved in here, as the girl moves in a slalom course around the objects.

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Projectiles as well as the girl herself are slightly bent, this is quite the common occurrence in In-Seung Choi’s animation which you’ll notice later.

At 0:08 the damaged shield she made have a slowly spreading smoke around it, a nice thing to look at and a good piece of effects animation, which we can’t enjoy for long as the view gets blocked by another protecting barrier made of debris  for the girls protection is put up. But not everything can be blocked as one of them flies right past the girl and throws up her skirt. Once again, look at how her clothes react to that but also look at the Debris when her shield breaks. It is such details that makes me love animation like this, putting aside that I’m all in for fast paced combat like this.

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Do you see them? The Debris from the barrier? The form they have?

Talking about fast, at 0:10 we see the blonde girl running on a part of the Debris Shield put up against her. It is here to mention how speed is displayed, the virtual camera chases her yet she is faster than the camera and easily outruns it.

Bildschirmfoto vom 2016-05-30 09:46:05
Freezeframing it, you’ll notice some unusually long legs, they further improve the impression of “Speed”, however, you will barely even take notice off these when you watch the scene as a whole.

The scene ends with the blonde girl jumping off the object and fancily catching her opponent with her string weapon. Somehow this scene completely misses the feeling that the defeated opponent is really being captured. That said, I’m not even sure what the context of this fight is so this probably was done like this on purpose, else the strings would probably try to capture her more violently with more force and she most likely would have resisted more. I also do not want to criticize In-Seung Choi because I think what he does is absolutely incredible

If you can’t catch anything of what I mentioned in this scene because all you do is looking at these girls panties when they appear since you’re a fucking pervert, take a look at the next scene as this won’t feature any of those.

Source: Sakugabooru

Remember how I started this post? This was the scene that made me write this blogpost and what blew my head off.

It begins from the moment the girls jumps into the fight, she does an overhead jump right onto her opponent which she threw her swords at in the beginning.

Bildschirmfoto vom 2016-05-30 11:25:08.png
one of the details I especially like about this scene are these trails her weapons leave behind, you can also see such trails from her eyes.
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The smoke around her is also something worth mentioning, it mainly reacts to the impact her moves cause, here especially when she lands on the ground. You can see this already when she catches her swords who were suck in the pillar.

What follows is a damn cool fighting choreography, from 0:12 to 0:14 you see two completely different kind of fighters clashing. The animation treats the girl as an agile fighter which can be seen already when the fight begins, but this sequence is the peak of this. It begins as she does an overhead jump from the right side of the screen to the left side of the screen hitting her opponent with a spinning kick with which she ends up with her back towards her opponent. Then with a 180°-kick as an immediate follow-up she goes towards the middle again, then backs away to the left side of the screen again after her kick is blocked but does a ranged attack while retweeting and then she immediately goes in for another melee attack right before the scene cuts to a different angle. And all this happens in less than 2 seconds.

Now keep a close eye at what I’m pointing out in the next 4 screens.

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When you watch this scene in motion this stands even more out. The trails the weapon leave behind and which can be easily identified as hers due to the colour is cleverly used here to fill the entire screen with her character, giving an even better impression of her agility. Notice also how the virtual camera reacts to the sequence, it isn’t rotating and is moving rather calm during the scene but with an inconsistency. You’ll see that the quickest movement of the camera is during the girl’s quickest movement, the overhead jump with the spinning attack. In other impact moments, where the weapons of the girl clashes with the other, the camera stands still for a short for that very impact and shakes a bit. In short: The Camera’s motions depend on the girls movements.

The next cut is also pretty great. We can see the guy from a frontal perspective as he deflects incoming attacks which come from the direction where the virtual camera is.

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I love these kinds of shots. Especially when there is a weapon clash right in front of the virtual camera. It just looks cool as fuck.

He didn’t stick out during these last cuts but now it is his time to shine as he’s closing into the camera during that cut while the projectile and the other attack fly past him. You can also notice that his clothes and his hair respond to these. The camera movement is also interesting, as it goes along with the guy’s movement, in other words, it moves to the right when the guy moves to the right and vice versa.

Following this is the last shot of the fight which is a storm of simple effects animation as the girls jumps and spins in the air, shooting beams all over the place as she then gets interrupted by the guy which ends the fight.

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The beams are smeared, simple yet look pretty cool and incorporate more movement onto these simple beams.

The first cut goes 17 seconds, the second one goes 20 seconds, totaling in 37 seconds of pretty badass animation.

So by now, just like me back then, you might be more interest in seeing more of him and what anime he has work on. Unfortunately, when you look for japanese anime production that included him you won’t find anything. In-Seung Choi has worked on several promo vids for Korean Online games and some western titles, the just mentioned Cyphers is an example of the former. Let’s take a look at the trailer of another korean video game called “Epic7”.

Source: Sakugabooru

The fighting choreography is similar to what we have seen from the sample before. One of the differences is, that this time both characters have similar agility. Both move over the screen a lot filling it with their movement, there is no-one who is more present. The other part is the effects animation not covering much of the screen in comparison to what was shown during the Cyphers Promo Vid.

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Freezeframing it, you’ll notice again that the poses of the characters tend be “bent” in some kind of way. In the Cyphers Promo I talked about before we had something similar but it stands more out in this example here.

This makes for an interesting dynamic throughout the animation itself. The movement looks more fluent and also adds to the movement of the characters filling the screen, something I repeatedly pointed out already.

The sequence which follows up the fight from 0:00-0:03 is once again one of these cuts of the camera closing into one of the guys (or the guy closing into the camera). Unlike in the Cyphers Preview though, this time the camera’s movement don’t change direction and is more consistent as it follows the movement of the incoming sword.

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Something which can be barely seen when in motion, the eyes of the guy widen in struggle as the blade gets too close to him. He actually gets cut by the blade as this scene ends.

Writing about this is I suddenly doubt more and more that the white-haired person is actually a guy… Looking at the design it could actually be a girl or maybe it’s a trap… Or even some transgender person, I don’t know.

If you paid attention so far there were mainly 2 re-occurring things, lots of movement over the whole screen and this “bending” of objects which you notice when you look at individual frames.

Talking about bending.

Source: Sakugabooru

Best transition ever *pats on own shoulder* Ehem.

The most known series which he has worked on is the show “Legend of Korra” which came out in 2012. Keep that in mind as both the Epic7 Teaser and the Cyphers Promo came out in 2016, you should notice that the “bent” movement animation from Cyphers and Epic 7 isn’t present (not the case for the effects animation though!) I couldn’t find any of it when I looked through every frame, the animation is more “straight” in LoK, what has stayed from this animation till today is the blur which comes with moments of impact as well as the shaking camera, something which is way less present in the the scenes from 2016 though.

Source: Sakugabooru

Remember when I asked for the form of the small debris above in the Cyphers Promo?

Yutaka Nakamura’s animation has been so influential that it even went out of Japan, out of Asia and became something international. In case you haven’t guess it already, these cubelike debris are Yutapon Cubes, showing earth shattering destruction in an optical very entertaining and stylish way. You could say that these Cubes were indeed… groundbreaking.

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There is indeed a slight bend in her arm. But it’s almost invisible and is more apparent during his later work.

And with that I’m ending my analysis of In-Seung Choi’s work. As you have probably noticed I’m pretty amazed by his work and of course I look forward to more scenes by him.

To end this post,I present some more scenes from In-Seung Choi without an extended look at it though.

Source: Sakugabooru

From a game called “Crimson Gem Saga” which was published in 2008 in by “SK Telekom” in Korea. Again, lots of movement and a pretty cool fight choreography, you find everything what I said before again here, including a slight bend in the characters postures when you freezeframe it, especially during that last kick.

Source: Sakugabooru

Another clip from “Crimson Gem Saga”.

Source: Sakugabooru

From a trailer for “The Grand Chase” which is another Korean Online Game featuring some neat background animation.

And with that I’ll end this post. I hope you enjoyed reading through it and look forward to more Sakuga Posts on here.

See ya, Bye Bye then~

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One thought on “Sakuga: In-Seung Choi – Bender of Frame and Motion

  1. After I saw Shirobako, I got more interested in sakuga. Thanks so much for this spotlight post, it’s harder to find info on specific animators as opposed to simple animation critique!

    Like

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