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[ANIMATION] Artistry of Peter Chung

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  • madchinaman
    Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung http://www.scifi.com/transcripts/2000/peterchung.html -- Peter Chung (pkchung@attglobal.net) - Seoul-based Korean animator, Peter
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25 2:19 AM
      Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung
      -- Peter Chung (pkchung@...)


      Seoul-based Korean animator, Peter Chung, whose credits
      include "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Rugrats" and commercials
      for Nike Air, Diet Pepsi and AT&T, wrote and directed the segment
      entitled, "Matriculated."


      Moderator: Just a quick reminder. This is a moderated chat. If you
      have questions for Peter, feel free to send them to me, "Moderator"
      as private messages. I'm taking questions now
      brittany: ok

      Moderator: We'll start moderation in about a minute

      PeterChung: We're ready for the late-nite chat

      Moderator: Peter, can you type to the screen?

      PeterChung: Yes

      Moderator: Great!

      Moderator: either double-click on my name or type "/msg Moderator"
      on the command line - only without the quotes.)

      Moderator: Peter, ready for the first question?

      PeterChung: Hi go ahead fire away

      Moderator: sara> to <Moderator>: how did you get started in

      PeterChung: umm.... i started by making super 8 films in high school
      at 16 in virginia

      PeterChung: and me and a friend decided it'd be fun to try making a
      film in super 8

      PeterChung: we dabbled with live action super 8 but found the
      limitations too restricting

      PeterChung: from what we could accomplish on film so decided to try

      PeterChung: ga

      Moderator: Does that mean that your drawing came as an adjunct to
      your film making?

      PeterChung: well i can't really call our live action efforts

      PeterChung: it was just fooling around mostly in our backyards or in
      shopping malls

      PeterChung: but um... i'd always like to draw and create characters
      on paper

      PeterChung: and when I discoverd that you can make them move by
      shooting them on film, it seemed to be the perfect solution

      PeterChung: for trying to get the images in my head onto film

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <sara> to <Moderator>: which anime do you enjoy watching

      Moderator: Just a reminder... We¹re chatting with Peter Chung,
      creator of Alexander and Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats
      spread out over three nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in
      conjunction with the New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated
      chat. please send your questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as
      private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on
      my name or type "/msg Moderator" on the command line - only without
      the quotes.)

      PeterChung: Um.... well there're too many to list by title

      PeterChung: but the director's whose work which inspired me and
      influenced me was

      PeterChung: Dezaki Ozama

      PeterChung: Osame (sorry)_

      PeterChung: and Rin Taro

      PeterChung: and Miyazaki

      PeterChung: and Ikuhara who's not in the room

      PeterChung: where is he?

      PeterChung: [he was here]

      PeterChung: and kawajiri yoshiaki

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <Buaku> to <Moderator>: what ever happened to the aeon
      flux video game?

      PeterChung: We made several attempts to produce a game, but it
      seemed that the

      PeterChung: by the time the game was ready to be released, the
      technology used to create it was already obsolete

      PeterChung: and plus I think the timing of the release of TOMB
      RAIDER had a lot to do with um... sort of

      PeterChung: stealing our idea.

      PeterChung: Not that that's what I wanted to do.

      PeterChung: I wanted to do a game that was more mental. Which
      involved interaction with other characters in the game.

      PeterChung: But I was told from people in the game design industry,
      that the type of game that was most popular is an actual shooting-
      style game.

      PeterChung: And as those were becoming more and more violent, I was
      less interested in trying to complete the game.

      PeterChung: Sorry -- compete with them.

      PeterChung: [typist's mistake]

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Do you think that from a commercial viewpoint games and
      films almost have to be ready for release simultaneously to avoid
      technology lag and capture the imagination of fans while the work is
      still cutting edge?

      PeterChung: Ikuhara's back in the room now if you want to ask him
      some questions.

      Moderator: Just a reminder... We¹re chatting with Peter Chung,
      creator of Alexander and Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats
      spread out over three nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in
      conjunction with the New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated
      chat. please send your questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as
      private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on
      my name or type "/msg Moderator" on the command line - only without
      the quotes.)

      PeterChung: I try not to think in terms of a commercial viewpoint.

      PeterChung: But maybe you're right.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <Tigris> to <Moderator>: Will Alexander see a wider
      release in the near future for those of us who couldn't make it to
      NYC? Love your work!

      PeterChung: Well, that's up to the people at Kadokawa, who are in
      control of the rights.

      PeterChung: My role in that project was simply as the character
      designer. I had no say in the decisions regarding distributions and

      PeterChung: No doubt it'll be released on video as a japanese
      animation title.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Peter, maybe you could explain just what the role of a
      character designer is... :)

      Moderator: Just a reminder... We¹re chatting with Peter Chung,
      creator of Alexander and Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats
      spread out over three nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in
      conjunction with the New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated
      chat. please send your questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as
      private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on
      my name or type "/msg Moderator" on the command line - only without
      the quotes.)

      PeterChung: Well, it's different depending on the project I work on.

      PeterChung: In the case of ALEXANDER, obviously I was adapting
      characters who were actual historical figures.

      PeterChung: And also since I'm working with an animation staff that
      includes a director and producer, I have to satisfy their needs as

      PeterChung: I worked as a character designer on RUGRATS, in that
      case I was required to adapt to the style that was established by
      Klaske Csupo

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <sara> to <Moderator>: what do you think you would be
      doing if not animation

      PeterChung: I've often felt fortunate that I didn't have to worry
      about that. There's enough of an audience who enjoyed an animated

      PeterChung: If I couldn't do that, my other interests would include
      architecture, painting, and some day I hope to work in live-action

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Peter, what are the pros and cons of working with an
      actual historical character like Alexander? Is itdaunting?

      PeterChung: Yes, it was the first time I had to do research into a
      historical character

      PeterChung: to create the character designs. but fortunately the
      staff at Madhouse was interested in creating a completely
      fantastical look

      PeterChung: free from all of the usual references.

      PeterChung: I was pretty much left to do anything I wanted

      PeterChung: However, well you have to be respectful to the
      historical facts, so though I tended to hold myself back if I was
      going to far.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <Tigris> to <Moderator>: How involved are you with
      the "Aeon Flux" movie project? Do you plan any future animated Aeon
      Flux shorts? Or perhaps a longer animated film?

      Moderator: Just a reminder... We¹re chatting with Peter Chung,
      creator of Alexander and Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats
      spread out over three nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in
      conjunction with the New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated
      chat. please send your questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as
      private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on
      my name or type "/msg Moderator" on the command line - only without
      the quotes.)

      PeterChung: As far as I know, the AEON FLUX live action feature is
      still in devleopment in MTV films.

      PeterChung: However I've been involved with other projects and I'm
      not uptodate with the status of it.

      PeterChung: Because it's been taking such a long time for them to
      move forward on the project. That I've decided to direct an animated
      feature film on my own

      PeterChung: And hopefully use that as a way of persuading them to do
      Aeon Flux as an animated feature.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Any hints as to what your animated feature will be?

      PeterChung: No; you'll have to wait.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <Kerry> to <Moderator>: do you think that they'll be
      showing Alexander on TV? (similar to Aeon Flux)

      PeterChung: I doubt if ALEXANDER will be able to make it on
      broadcast TV because of the violent content.

      PeterChung: If so, it'd have to be severly cut.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <sara> to <Moderator>: how did you come up with the idea
      of aeon flux

      PeterChung: As I said, I was working on RUGRATS at the time I was
      asked to submit an idea for a series to MTV for their show Liquid

      PeterChung: AEON FLUX represents everything that I wasn't allowed to
      do on RUGRATS.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: You mention the violent content in Alexander. And yet
      history itself is violent. Are film makers obligated to consider the
      plues and minuses of violent content when they portray actual
      events...even fictionalizations?

      Moderator: Does that put a damper on your work, or the potentional

      PeterChung: Unfortunately in today's political climate... yes.

      PeterChung: Though I doubt that people watching ALEXANDER on TV are
      going to be influenced to follow it as a model for their own

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <Tigris> to <Moderator>: f I remember correctly, Aeon
      Flux dies at the end of every short "short" (the initial run on
      MTV). Whose idea was this? Was it done because you didn't think the
      character would go any further? Or was there a deeper message there?

      Moderator: We¹re chatting with Peter Chung, creator of Alexander and
      Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats spread out over three
      nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in conjunction with the
      New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated chat. please send your
      questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as private messages. (To
      send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg
      Moderator" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

      PeterChung: At the end of the first series of shorts, Aeon Flux
      died, and I didn't think I was going to do anythign further with the

      PeterChung: When a second series of short was requested, I decided I
      didn't want to explain how she came back to life.

      PeterChung: So it seemed to make sense that she would die in every

      PeterChung: I was interested in basing a series on the premise that
      the main character would die in every instance.

      PeterChung: Because on series TV, the inverse is true.

      PeterChung: It's always presumed that the main character will

      PeterChung: Whatever deeper meaning you want to find in these
      stories is up to you.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <sara> to <Moderator>: do you have a strong view point of
      the world that you want to convey in your work

      PeterChung: In the case of AEON FLUX, I was interested in portraying
      a world where all of the major conflicts reside in the voluntary
      actions of the characters.

      PeterChung: In other words, I'm not interested in portraying a world
      polarized by the forces of good vs. evil

      PeterChung: I don't see the world in those kinds of simplistic moral

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <jakgirl> to <Moderator>: What exactly does Aeon Flux
      mean? Is is just noting that our thinking is constantly evolving (or

      PeterChung: Well the universe is change.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Peter, what sensibilities have you discovered in anime
      that you might want to carry with you to live action films?

      Moderator: please send your questions for our guest to me,
      Moderator, as private messages. (To send a private message, either
      double-click on my name or type "/msg Moderator" on the command
      line - only without the quotes.)

      PeterChung: By anime are you referring to Japanese animation? I
      personally don't like to use the term "anime" because it seems like

      PeterChung: bastardization of a japanese word which is a
      bastardization of an english word.

      PeterChung: The japanese themselves do not use the term "anime" to
      refer to only Japanese animation.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <kam> to <Moderator>: Are you working on any projects
      currently? If so can you tell us what they are?

      PeterChung: I just finished a series of TV commercials for the
      checkers restaurant chain.

      PeterChung: I'm currently working on the opening title sequence for
      a computer Role Playing Game

      PeterChung: When that's finished, I'll start working on the
      promotional short for my proposed feature film.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Several people have asked what you are most looking
      forward to seeing at the New York festival...?

      PeterChung: Since I was working at MADHOUSE while VAMPIRE HUNTER D
      was in production, I've been very curious to see the finished

      PeterChung: Some of the other films I've already seen.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <sara> to <Moderator>: since you are so well known for
      aeon flux and alexander, do you have alot of offers coming for
      future work in animation or live action

      Moderator: We¹re chatting with Peter Chung, creator of Alexander and
      Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats spread out over three
      nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in conjunction with the
      New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated chat. please send your
      questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as private messages. (To
      send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg
      Moderator" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

      PeterChung: Uh, yes I receive a lot of offers from studios in Los
      Angeles to come and work on their productions.

      PeterChung: Mostly I turn down these offers because I don't feel
      that they will afford me creative freedom that I crave.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <Tigris> to <Moderator>: Did you personally pick the
      voice actors for Aeon Flux? Or did someone else audition them? I
      really enjoyed their work, particularly that of Jason Wynn. Whenever
      I hear his voice now, I can't help but think "Trevor lives!" I've
      heard that Wynn is supposed to be in Alexander? Was this your idea
      if true?

      PeterChung: It was a collaborative process involving Jack Fletcher,
      the voice director.

      PeterChung: Myself and the executives at MTV

      PeterChung: GA

      PeterChung: BTW don't you mean John Lee?

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: You mentioned the fear of losing creative freedom working
      within the production/studio system in LA. Do you find that ad
      agencies, MTV are more open minded when it comes to visual

      Moderator: We¹re chatting with Peter Chung, creator of Alexander and
      Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats spread out over three
      nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in conjunction with the
      New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated chat. please send your
      questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as private messages. (To
      send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg
      Moderator" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

      PeterChung: At the time I was doing AEON FLUX, MTV was fairly open-

      PeterChung: I think that with further experience producing
      animation, they've narrowed their artistic focus. It's almost
      inconceivable that they would

      PeterChung: approve of AEON FLUX for production today.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Is that strictly a commercial judgement on their part?

      PeterChung: Yes, of course.

      PeterChung: I'm not going to go any further than that.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <sara> to <Moderator>: will you try for your own
      production company soon to gain your creative freedom

      Moderator: We¹re chatting with Peter Chung, creator of Alexander and
      Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats spread out over three
      nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in conjunction with the
      New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated chat. please send your
      questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as private messages. (To
      send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg
      Moderator" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

      PeterChung: Eventually, yes.

      PeterChung: But at the moment I'm working with the small production
      company whom I feel comfortable working with.

      PeterChung: At the moment I don't have ambitions for running a
      studio on my own.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Peter, several people have asked what the path is for
      someone who wants to work in animated film? Film school, art

      PeterChung: Personally I found a couple of years of Cal Arts to be
      useful, if nothing else gaining connections to people who will
      eventually populate the animation industry.

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: <sara> to <Moderator>: do you have a favorite movie

      Moderator: We¹re chatting with Peter Chung, creator of Alexander and
      Aeon Flux. This is the first of three chats spread out over three
      nights sponsored by Sci Fi¹s Anime Colony in conjunction with the
      New York Anime Festival. This is a moderated chat. please send your
      questions for our guest to me, Moderator, as private messages. (To
      send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg
      Moderator" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

      PeterChung: Well, it changes from week-to-week.

      PeterChung: The movie that inspired me the most by demonstrating the
      potential of the film medium was

      PeterChung: 2001: A Space Odyssey

      PeterChung: GA

      Moderator: Peter, we¹re nearing the last minutes of our hour, and I
      know that it¹s late in New York. is about up. You¹ve been a great
      guest, and we want to thank you for a very cool chat. And thanks to
      the audience as well. Remember, join us tomorrow evening at midnight
      for second night of anime chat. Our guest will be director Hiroyuki
      Kitakubo. Good night everybody!

      PeterChung: OK

      unknowman: peter, what anime flims have u work on

      Moderator: The floor is open!

      unknowman: peter, what anime flims have u work on

      Ikuhara : Good night peter, we love you!!!

      PeterChung: Well as you know, ALEXANDER was my first Japanese
      animation project

      Notis: Hiho. We can talk now?...

      PeterChung: Recently I did some animation for a title sequence for
      PARTY SEVEN -- an upcoming japanese live-action film

      unknowman: did u do any work on princess monoke

      PeterChung: um... no.

      PeterChung: What makes you think that I might have?

      unknowman: well i dont know, i just woundered if u did or not

      PeterChung: lol

      jakgirl: Peter, what is your preferred medium when you paint -
      watercolor? Acrylics? Oils?

      jakgirl: Computer? :)

      PeterChung: For now, computer.

      unknowman: princess mononke was good anime movie this year

      Tigris: Hi Peter - whoops! I did mean Lee - sorry! Do you have any
      personal favorite animators (Miyazaki)? Whose work do you really
      enjoy? Sorry if someone has asked before - I got kicked off for
      awhile there.

      PeterChung: I already answered this.

      unknowman: have u work on any of the robotech/macross series?

      PeterChung: [you can check the archive when this chat is posted]

      Stealth0: sings la la al

      PeterChung: no the only robot show I worked on was TRANSFORMERS

      Moderator: We'll have a transcipt posted in a few days so that
      anyone who joined us late can catch up on questions that Peter
      answered before they arrived ")

      jakgirl: Do you like the Peter Greenaway films (Prospero's Books,
      etc)? They seem sort of dream/nightmare, like Aeon Flux

      PeterChung: I'd like A ZED & TWO NOUGHTS

      PeterChung: I liked

      PeterChung: But in general I find his films way to talky

      unknowman: ok, how do u feel about the new vampire hunter d, that
      urban-vision is makeing , do u think it will be better than the one
      they made in the 80's?

      PeterChung: Ironically, because his films are filled with wall to
      wall dialogue, I find none of it memorable.

      Ikuhara : Maybe the talking is just background music?

      PeterChung: Yes the new VAMPIRE HUNTER D by Kawajiri will definitely
      be better.

      nUuRTH: PeterChung, earlier you acknowledged the universe is change;
      do you believe this "change" is synonymous with violence?

      PeterChung: But I'm seeing it tomorrow

      unknowman: cool

      * Ikuhara notes you can't make an omelet without breaking a few
      eggs... ;-) *

      PeterChung: Well, it looks like the hours up.

      PeterChung: Farewell, it's been fun.


      Interview 1 with Peter Chung (1)

      1. Why did you choose to work in animation, rather than movies?

      I was always an artist, drawing pictures since my childhood. I
      started doing homemade animation from the age of 16, with a Super 8
      camera. But I was unsatisfied with my own Super 8 live-action films,
      so I began doing original animation. Whereas the live movies
      suffered from having no budgets,with animation I could show
      anything, any images I could imagine and draw.

      2. Did you have any particular influences, either from other
      animation, art or comics?

      While growing up, I lived all over the world, so I was influenced by
      many cultures, especially European countries. There really isn't one
      particular artist that has consciously influenced my work, but there
      are Japanese animators that I really admire, like Tezuka Osamu and
      Rintaro. One recent Japanese animated movie I enjoyed was "X"(dir.
      Rintaro), which had a spiritual and metaphysical dimension that I

      3. Any influences regarding subject matter, e.g. "I want to do my
      own version of James Bond, Blade Runner. etc."?

      I have a voracious appetite for movies, but I'm unsatisfied with
      most films. Most Hollywood films are formulaic and unimaginative. I
      prefer older, especially European movies, such as Antonioni films,
      stylistic movies. But also ones where the audience is emotionally
      connected to the characters. When I was younger, I liked style and
      techniques of films more, but now, in my 30's, I'm more into
      character-based content. But even so-called independent American
      movies, such as those by Jim Jarmusch, are really just remakes or
      updates of the original European films, for example, by Goddard,
      made in the 50's and 60's. One recent film that I like is David
      Lynch's "Lost Highway", which I found inspiring in its abstractness.
      In that one, Lynch makes no distinction between the character's
      internal states and ideas and the external reality. I'm really
      interested in that concept, gibing physical expression to a
      character's inner life.

      4. Who would you like to collaborate within any medium?

      In terms of famous directors, like Lynch, the answer is no one. I
      really have interest in that. But on the other hand animated
      projects are always collaborative. I enjoy the process of working
      with other animators and discovering their talent or hidden talents.

      5. These days, what animation, movies, comics, TV shows, etc. are
      you into?

      I don't have that much time to stay current with the latest TV shows
      and etc. About a TV show I like, there's something called "0niisama-
      e", which an animated fantasy-drama that explores serious themes
      like incest in both an entertaining end mature way. Actually, it's
      not really new. I saw a Korean translation of it about five years
      ago. For me, this series exploded the boundaries of animation. I
      also like the work of Studio Madhouse and the directors Rintaro and
      Yoshiaki Kawajiri, but some of the more recent hyped anime are
      disappointing. "Akira" had good ideas, but wasn't very appealing.
      The characters weren't appealing. Like wise, "Ghost in the Shell",
      also had too much dialogue and wasn't dramatic enough. Instead of
      having the characters express how they felt through images, the
      characters in "Ghost" just explained bow they felt, like they were
      characters in a book.

      6. What's next for "Aeon Flux"? More animation? The movie?

      A live-action film is in development. But there's no script or
      director yet. I'll probably serve as a consultant on it, but I'm
      pretty sure I won't be asked to direct. I'm planning to direct in
      the near-future, but handling a $60,000,000 "Aeon Flux" film would
      be too much responsibility for my first time.

      7. Is "Aeon Flux" the first project you've sold movie rights to?

      Actually, I don't own "Aeon Flux". I created the character and
      series, but MTV owns all the rights. Before "Aeon Flux", I had done
      a lot of development work for proposed series, but "Aeon Flux" was
      the first one of mine to actually become a show.

      8. How do you see your relationship to films in the future?
      Directing, producing?

      Right now, I'm developing two theatrical projects, one live-action,
      one animated feature, both original stories. I'm currently talking
      to a producer. It's too early to be more specific yet, but they
      won't be comedies. They won't be for children and I'm going to
      create a new, original character. I plan to write and direct both
      projects. Other than that, I'm not going to depict an ordinary
      reality, but I'll give physical form to the imaginary world.
      Sometimes I take ideas from dreams, but I'm not interested in
      escapism or in providing escapist entertainment for the masses. In
      my work, I want to explore more of internal experiences. Our lives
      are not simply what we experience externally and filmmakers don't
      allow enough exploration of internal states of mind. These internal
      experiences are what he wants to explore more of in his work.

      9. Do your interests lie more in design or storytelling?

      Writing stories is preferable, but ideally the design work and the
      storytelling are inseparable. The world of the story, how the world
      is designed, becomes the story.

      10. If you were given $100,000,000, what would you make?

      I wouldn't make one $100,000,000 movie. I'm not impressed with the
      quality of production values. I'm impressed by the quality and
      quantity of ideas. So I would probably use the money to make ten $10
      million movies, animation or live-action.

      11. How did you become attached to "Alexander" ?

      One day, the head of Studio Madhouse, Mr. Maruyama contacted me and
      just asked if I'd like to work on the project. Being a fan of the
      studio, I eagerly accepted the invitation.

      12. What is your role in the production?

      Originally, doing character designs. Now I'm also doing some
      background designs for the series.

      13. How did you design the characters for "Alexander"?

      First, I started by doing research, before the director, Mr.
      Kanemori, told me to quit the research and only use my imagination.
      There was no script at the time, only a synopsis and character
      descriptions, so most of the design work is purely from my
      imagination. The director and writer really didn't influence my
      designs much; if they didn't like something, they said so, and I'd
      change it.

      14. Do you consider "Alexander" a historical project or more of a
      fantasy? How much of it is based on fact?

      It's the historical story of Alexander, but with added fantasy
      elements, like advanced technology in an ancient age, some
      characters fly and one who is 20 feet tall But the story also
      follows the true historical conquests of Alexander and takes place
      in that time. And aside from Alexander himself, the other main
      characters are true, historical personages. Does the story remain
      true to the real Alexander's death, at 33. by a fever? Well, reports
      of Alexander's death are undead. He may have actually been purposely
      poisoned. At any rate, within our story, Alexander is reincarnated
      several times.

      15. What drew you to the project personally?

      Like I said, I wanted to work with Madhouse. In the beginning, I
      didn't know much about the history of Alexander, but after doing
      some research, I found myself becoming drawn into it. The most
      intriguing thing to me was the nature of Alexander, who is not pure,
      but is driven by the dark side of his psyche. Alexander's life and
      his animated life is one of extremes.

      16. Are you concerned with themes ( social, psychological, etc.) in
      your animation?

      Too many movies these days focus on psychoanalyzing the characters
      as a cheap means of "character development". This is one reason
      older movies are better, because they lack the psychoanalytical
      emphasis. For myself, thematically, I want to focus on aspects of
      the characters and, as I said, on their internal realities, not just
      have the objective, documentary-like style most films use. I'm also
      interested in metaphysical entities like the Death-like character
      in "Lost highway" that may give a supernatural interpretation.

      17. How has the field of animation changed since you got into the
      business? How have audiences changed?

      I was trained at CalArts before entering the industry at 20, in the
      early 80's. At the time, animation was breathing its last breath.
      Lots of the older talents were retiring, dying or burning out. There
      was a gap then, with no next generation ready to take over. But then
      the convergence of a few key events happened, including the
      expansion of broadcast media, home video and cable TV. And also, by
      the early 80's kids who grew up, watching animation reached
      adulthood. These new adults, used to the idea of watching animation,
      proved good targets for more mature animation, including anime, "The
      Simpsons" and recently "King of The Hill". I myself was an
      indiscriminate animation viewer growing up, until I got turned on to
      Japanese anime.

      18. What do other American animators think of Japanese animations?

      I count myself as part of a minority of animators who are into
      Japanese animation. Not the lay people like fans, producers and
      writers, but most American animators themselves really dislike anime
      production methods because less care is taken in the performance of
      the characters. For example, rather than the performance being
      specific to the character, voices are dubbed in after the animation
      is finished - unlike the States - which often leads to shoddy
      problems like poor synching between speech and the character's
      movements. And another reason, Japanese animators are treated as
      illustrators, not actors. They're not given the respect that
      American animators are due.

      19. What do you think about merchandising and publicity?

      About merchandising, I don't disapprove of it, but I try to keep
      myself from marketing efforts, letting the marketing people handle
      it. My interest is in making the films. Regarding magazines and
      newspaper interviews, they are OK, depending on the interviewer, but
      I shy away from being on-camera. I'm interested in fans' responses
      to my work, though. MTV's web site and an America On-Line "Aeon
      Flux" message board drew a lot of discussion when "Aeon Flux" was
      airing. I used to check that out from time to time. But I work on
      the project for myself and wouldn't let anyone's reaction, positive
      or negative, affect what I draw or write. The reason an artist makes
      anything is to communicate. I'm interested in communicating through
      my work.

      20. And what lies in the future for the animation industry?

      I predict a narrowing of the mature animation market, at least for
      TV/cable programs. Recently, when it comes down to ratings, animated
      comedies are hits, with "Simpsons", "King of The Hill" and the
      raunchy "South Park". So we can expect more animated comedies in the
      future, of which I have no interest in making. Other shows, like
      HBO's "Spawn" and "Spicy City" are ratings disappointments. I think
      HBO is winding down and will probably cease animation production
      after the remaining ordered "Spawn" episodes have been finished. But
      video opportunities remain, with theatrical hopes also.

      1. What motivated you to get involved in Alexander?

      In the summer of 1996, I received a call from Mr. Maruyama of
      Madhouse who wanted to order the Alexander. At the time I was
      working in Seoul. Since Mr. Maruyama was about to head for Seoul, I
      agreed to meet him there. I was thrilled to be working on Alexander,
      since I was a fan of the Madhouse(s work.

      2. Among the Madhouse's work, which one do you like the best?

      I've seen most of the Madhouse's work and I think most of them were
      great. I especially liked the works of Kawajiri and Rintaro. I am
      happy that I will be working with Rintaro in Alexander.

      3. What are the key points of designs of Alexander?

      Since I was very fond of Greek style costumes, I was reluctant and
      even felt resistant to the idea, when I was asked to design it in a
      completely different style. I initially drew it in Greek style, but
      they didn't want any of the traditional images of Alexander. Each
      time I showed them to MadHouse, they wanted something different. So,
      by changing little by little each time, my work had become
      completely different and independent from the traditional Greek
      style. When applying the changes to the style, I didn't ignore the
      flow of the era, but tried to establish a unique style by creating
      it in a way that no one will relate it to Greece.

      4. Which character was most difficult to work with?

      The most time consuming characters were Alexander and Aristotle.
      They were most difficult characters to design, because people
      already had the previous images of the two characters I had to
      repeatedly draw Aristotle four or five times.

      5. The letter "A" is used symbolically, is there any special meaning
      to this?

      I've attempted to use it, since I like Greek letters. I used the
      letters with medium style in order not to deviate too far from the
      letters that were used at the time.

      6. Which character from Alexander do you like most?

      Though I enjoyed creating most of the characters, I liked drawing
      the characters of the Carta descent the most. In the case of the
      other studios, I was not quite satisfied with the final work, since
      the companies have the right to make the final decisions. But now I
      am satisfied with each and every characters I have drawn in
      Alexander, because I had the freedom to work on my own. There are
      some characters I'd like to modify. For example, I'd like to modify
      Roxanne, Cassandra and Darius a little bit. Fortunately, these
      characters don't appear until later in the show, so I might modify
      them a little later.

      7. Which characters have you given extra attention to in terms of
      their costumes?

      It was Alexander. The other characters could appear on the screen
      with the same costumes all the time. But due to the fact that
      Alexander, a complicated character having the both heroic and
      devilish characteristics of a man dreaming to conquer the world,
      possessing an intellectual mind trained by Aristotle and a physical
      strength of excellent martial arts skills, I had to change his
      costumes in each and every scene. These complicated characteristics
      were very important elements in the process. Generally, only the
      innocent aspects of the hero are shown. But in Alexander(s case, the
      existence of both good and evil is the key point.

      8. Are there any differences in how an animation project is produced
      in U.S. and in Japan?

      I also have some experience in writing the scripts in the U.S., but
      it was a first time for me to work from a Japanese written script. I
      think there is a big difference between how they work in the two
      countries. Japanese studios regard the design work as more important
      than the American studios do. For example, you can easily see this
      from looking at the ending credit of a movie. In the case of the
      U.S., no one would know who was responsible for the Disney
      characters. In many cases in U.S., a group or a team of designers
      would work together to create one character. But, in the case of
      Japan, a lot is sacrificed because there is limit to what one person
      can do. For example, the design of the female characters in the
      film, "Ghost Princess," all look alike. If more time and manpower
      were allocated, this kind of incident can be avoided in the future.

      Even the cases of story development and the direction of the
      production are different between the two countries. In the case of a
      theatrical production, only one director works on the storyboard
      whereas in the U.S., a group of people work together on it. When a
      group of people work together, there are some advantages in respect
      to adjusting in between the strong and weak points in the outcome.
      This kind of method can prevent such situations in a Japanese
      production as, the dialogues falling short even the action sequences
      turn out great. In Japanese production, when you see the drawings,
      you can guess who the director is. But in the case of the U.S., the
      drawings will not be changed regardless of who the director is. In
      Japan, one person is responsible for all aspects of the production
      such as the background, character and layout. So in Japan, an
      animator must be able to deal with every aspect of the production,
      whereas in U.S., there are designated experts in each fie! ld of the
      production. For examp le, an expert in female character drawing will
      only concentrates on drawing female characters and an expert in
      drawing fire will only draw fire all the time. So each animator is
      an expert on one particular subject or field, instead of being
      average on all fields. However, this costs a lot.

      9. Is current working environment in the U.S. great to work in?

      Today the studios have a lot of funds for many great projects so it
      is comfortable to work. I think the work environment is great in
      terms of the studios competing each other with their great projects,
      however there seems to be a decline in TV series production. When
      Aeon Flux was on air, it was a risk. But it was that much worth
      broadcasting it.

      10. Do you think there will be more demand from Japanese market?

      From the performance in Alexander, I think I will be getting more
      request from Japan.

      11. What do you think of the animation world of Japan?

      I spend more time on watching Japanese animations than I do on
      American ones. Among those, I am a big fan of the producer, Tesaki.
      I saw all his works. Recently, "To My Brother" was great and "Gorgo
      13" and "Black Jack" were also excellent. Previous ones like "Alice
      in Wonderland" and "Fantasia" produced by Disney were nice too.
      Among the recent ones, "Toy Story" and "James and the Giant Peach"
      were great. The work that brought me into the animation world
      was "Tiger Mask."

      12. Do you like comics?

      I collect Japanese and European comic books. For American comics, I
      like the old ones, but now all seems alike. I've never thought about
      becoming a comic artist and still don(t.

      13. Which one do you like among Japanese comics?

      I like Umezu Katsuo. I have seen great ideas in his work. I think we
      think the same and sometimes when I am watching his work, I feel
      like we are thinking exactly the same thing. I even feel jealous of
      his ideas sometimes. There are some artists with great techniques
      and some with great ideas, but I prefer the artists with great
      ideas. Among old American comics, I collect the works of Jack Curby.
      I also like the works of Jeff Daro, Herman(Crazy Cats), Robert
      William (Underground), Lou Pine and Will Aisner.

      14. Do you want to change the current attitudes toward animation?
      (In general)

      Animation is not a genre. I'd like to consider the animation as one
      of the media. For example, as there are many genres in movies, it is
      nice to have different genres in the animations as well. Personally,
      I think it is great to be able to do what you really want to do. I
      am getting some offers in theatrical animation, but I am occupied
      now. Currently, I am helping out a little with Disney project.

      15. Do you have anything you wish to share with your fans?

      I hope the people do not get caught up with any preconception,
      instead just appreciate what each individual feels about it as is
      and stop analyzing what the director or the producer wanted to
      portray. In other words, just feel as you saw it.


      Cool, I was right about the Lynch influence. (there was a bet...)

      -- Val McCafferty (caspersfetter@...), November 11, 1998

      In this article: http://www.stealth.net/~ch/af/contra.htm
      Chung says that David Lynch's Twin Peaks was the only TV series he's
      watched regularly in years...

      The article could have been written a while ago though

      -- Ed Gumey (gumey@...), November 15, 1998.


      The Animatrix (Warner Brothers)
      Peter Chung, creator of Aeon Flux and Matriculated
      Exclusive interview by Daniel Robert Epstein, contributing editor

      Peter Chung is one of the luckiest people alive. Not only did he
      create the groundbreaking cartoon Aeon Flux, but he has now
      contributed to the Matrix mythos. Inspired by the first Matrix film,
      Peter wrote and directed The Animatrix - Matriculated.

      UGO: How did you first get involved with the Animatrix?

      Peter Chung: In April 2001, I heard about the project through
      Madhouse Studios, as they were starting production on their two
      episodes, Program and World Record. I found out that some of the top
      Japanese animation directors were making short films based in the
      Matrix universe, and I wanted to have a chance to get involved. I
      called a producer at Warner Brothers Animation, who conveyed my
      interest to the Wachowskis. I was told that all the directors had
      already been chosen, and there wasn't a slot open for me. I tried to
      forget about it, but a couple of months later, I got a call telling
      me that one of the original directors had left the project and the
      brothers wanted to get me in. So I was in.

      UGO: Is it a great honor to be involved with something so amazing?

      PC: As an animator, it was an honor to be included in a roster of
      directors who were some of my heroes in the field, especially
      Kawajiri-san and Morimoto-san.

      UGO: Did Joel Silver have influence on your project? If so, how?

      PC: Not in any creative sense. The Wachowskis were the driving force
      behind the Animatrix, and even they imposed few constraints.

      UGO: Were you pleased with people viewing some of the short films
      online, or would you rather they see it on the big screen?

      PC: My episode is one of those that wasn't made available on the
      official site. As for the ones that were, I frankly had mixed
      feelings about them being given away for free. Considering the
      effort and care that went into making them, I was afraid that
      viewers would take such efforts for granted. On the other hand, of
      course, it increased the audience and the amount of buzz. I'm, of
      course, glad that it's being shown in limited theatrical release in
      some territories.

      UGO: What was your impression of the first film?

      PC: Having read a lot of comic books, science fiction novels and
      having seen a lot of Japanese animation and Hong Kong action movies,
      the Matrix story and style already seemed very familiar to me. (I
      thought there were even references to Aeon Flux). What impressed me
      was seeing these motifs and influences presented in a big Hollywood
      production for a mass audience. It was like a door opening to reveal
      to the larger world a genre that had been known only to a
      specialized subculture until then.

      UGO: The Wachowski Brothers don't do any press. Can you give any
      insight as to why, and what they are like?

      PC: I can't really speak for why they don't do press. Probably
      because it's not a good use of their time. I had one hour-long
      meeting with them at the very beginning of my involvement. My sense
      is that they're very generous and appreciative toward those working
      with them. I pitched several ideas to them, and they were quick to
      comment on the conceptual aspects of my stories rather than on the
      surface details, which was nice.

      UGO: How long did you work on the Animatrix?

      PC: A total of about fourteen months for the picture to be
      completed. I spent about seven months on script and preproduction,
      which includes production design and storyboards. Another seven
      months were spent on the animation production, which was done in
      Korea. After that, all the episodes were brought back to L.A. to
      have sound and music work done.

      UGO: Did you contribute to the story?

      PC: Yes, the story is completely my own. In fact, the brothers'
      reaction to my Matriculated script was that it wasn't what they were
      planning for their movies, but that they liked the idea and would
      let me go ahead and make it. None of the directors working on
      Animatrix had access to the story content of Reloaded or

      UGO: Have you seen The Matrix Reloaded?

      PC: Yes, I saw it for the first time at the premiere in Cannes.

      UGO: What did you think?

      PC: I was more interested in the quieter, psychological sequences
      than in the action. After it was over, I wanted to see it again to
      make sure I was picking up on everything that was crammed into it.
      It was certainly a lot different from what I'd expected.

      UGO: What do you think it is about the Matrix that has affected
      nearly everything in our culture?

      PC: I think it reflects very succinctly the anxieties a lot of us
      feel about becoming pawns in a society of artificial rules where
      soulless systems of control would try to define the direction and
      meanings of our lives.

      UGO: I spoke with the director of Cowboy Bebop about how much
      influence Asian films have had on The Matrix, and he said by this
      point, he thinks The Matrix has influenced Asian martial arts and
      anime more than their films ever did American films. Does that make

      PC: I can't say I agree with Watanabe-san on that point. I suppose
      your point of view will be affected by which you happened to have
      seen first. I thought Reloaded was even more influenced by Hong Kong
      films and Japanese animation than the first Matrix, what with the
      new Asian characters and those Zion mech-warrior suits, which are
      straight out of Japanese robot cartoons.

      UGO: I know you live in Korea. Is The Matrix as big over there as it
      is in the USA?

      PC: Actually, I divide my time about equally between L.A. and Seoul.
      But yes. Among the young generation, viewers recognize a lot of the
      motifs and sensibilities borrowed from Asian culture. It's regarded
      by many as a milestone in the fusion of East and West. Also, Korea
      today is the most wired - That is, internet-savvy - country in the
      world. Many people's lives revolve around their relationship to the
      digital world. The themes of The Matrix resonate very strongly.

      UGO: I know you garnered great success with Aeon Flux. But after it
      became a regular series, it lost popularity. What happened there?

      PC: When Aeon Flux was on Liquid TV, it was being done very cheaply
      and therefore with a great deal of freedom from network scrutiny.
      Once MTV began investing in earnest, I came under a lot more
      pressure to tone down the content, for the sake of the censors, and
      partly to appease the sponsors. Even so, the series attracted a new
      fanbase which actually preferred the later episodes.

      UGO: Was Aeon Flux a good experience?

      PC: Although the production period was arduous in the extreme, in
      the end, yes. I took it on as a challenge to expand the range of the
      animated series as a medium for personal expression. And I think we
      succeeded in most instances. I'm especially pleased with having
      created a truly complex main character in Aeon herself. I also
      realized that serial television is not the outlet for the kind of
      animation I want to do. There are just too many compromises one is
      forced to make.

      UGO: Do you think CGI has been good or bad for movie special

      PC: No question in my mind, it's good. It's not as if you can't
      still do things the old way if you absolutely insist on it. It's
      another tool filmmakers have in their arsenal. I like the fact that
      the images produced by CGI exist only in the computer. As someone
      who used to work with hand-painted cels, I'm relieved that I no
      longer have to lug around thick stacks of acetate sheets.

      UGO: Do you think the current craze of turning comic books into
      movies will last, or is it just a fad?

      PC: Of course it's a phase Hollywood is going through and it's, of
      course, driven by money. It'll last only until the next unexpected
      monster hit sends studios scrambling to imitate the genre du jour.

      UGO: If you had to be stuck on a desert island with three characters
      from movies (not actors - fictional characters), who would they be,
      and why?

      PC: Mary Poppins, Supergirl and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North
      (from the Wizard of Oz). Because every day is a holiday with Mary;
      Supergirl could be useful to have around, and Glinda could always
      show me how to return home if things didn't work out between the
      four of us.


      Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury
      Mike Toole

      Okay, I'm making something of a departure by reviewing The
      Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury. Normally, we here at Anime Jump
      like to focus on animation, comics, and other stuff from Japan. This
      Riddick thing, though, ain't Japanese. But despite being based on a
      big-budget Hollywood film, it isn't exactly American, either. In
      fact, it's mostly Korean, being created by a certain Peter Chung, a
      guy whose made his name in the west with shows like Aeon Flux and
      Phantom 2040, along with an all-Korean animation staff. Well, mostly
      all-Korean. I'm pretty sure I saw a few Japanese names in there,
      actually. Which means that this qualifies as anime!

      Anyway, we're really starting to see a rise in animation and comics
      from Korea, now that a.) Koreans have figured out that they can make
      their own stuff, and not just act as cheap labor for penny-pinching
      Japanese animation houses, and b.) American publishers have figured
      out that there's a market for the stuff over here. As a result,
      stuff like Riddick is fair game.

      Anyway, Dark Fury here is an odd piece of a larger puzzle-- it
      bridges the gap between the film Pitch Black and the current
      Chronicles of Riddick. It tries to neatly fill in a pretty small
      blank between the two movies. It's the sort of idea that would have
      my eyebrow cocked skeptically, were it not for the well-proven
      Chung's name being attached, and the presence of a certain Vin
      Diesel, the star of the two bookending films who reprises his role
      for the cartoon.

      I'm used to awful sound-alikes in licensed video games and TV shows
      (remember the fake-ass Sergeant Slaughter they used for the G.I. Joe
      TV cartoon?), so Diesel's presence (along with that of other
      Hollywood "face" actors, like Keith David and Nick Chinlund) is a
      welcome one. Diesel actually has primo voice acting experience (he
      was the voice of the title character in The Iron Giant, arguably the
      best animated film the west has produced in the past ten years), and
      he's got a handle on his character, so he's not the sort of
      Hollywood voice-acting disaster that big-budget Dreamworks films
      have gotten us so used to.

      The video's story picks up right where Pitch Black left off, with
      laconic anti-hero Riddick escaping from a hellish world of nocturnal
      monsters with only a middle-aged imam (David) and an oddly
      androgynous teenaged girl named Jack (Rhiana Griffith, also
      reprising her role from Pitch Black) along for the ride.

      The trio are woken out of cryogenic sleep (it makes those long trips
      pass more quickly) by the incursion of a ship of bounty hunters, and
      after a surprisingly exciting, fluidly-animated zero-g shootout,
      Riddick is brought before the ship's captain, a seemingly ruthless
      woman with the hilarious name of Chillingsworth.

      She's a bounty hunter, but not your typical money-chasing mercenary--
      along with her assistant, Junner, she hunts down the most
      dangerous, deadly killers in the civilized galaxy and collects them
      like action figures. Riddick, who happens to be an exceptionally
      dangerous and wanted felon along with a cool anti-hero, is at the
      top of her list.

      Naturally, the thing to do is to cast Riddick and his buddies into a
      pit with some fearsome monsters, start up the classic Star Trek
      Captain Kirk Fight Music... and turn off the lights. See, the
      whole "Pitch Black" thing comes in because Riddick, after spending
      some uncomfortable time in a prison so severe they kept the lights
      off most of the time, got a 'shine job' on his eyes. He can see in
      the dark. It's actually a neat gimmick, and unlike in the Riddick
      movie, it's used to good effect here.

      One of my favorite scenes from Alan Moore's Watchmen comic series
      was when the antihero Rorshach gets put into prison, surrounded by
      the criminals he used to apprehend. When they try to attack and
      intimidate him, he responds swiftly and brutally. As his entire cell
      block recoils in fear, he hollers gleefully, "You think I'm trapped
      in here with you, you're wrong. You're trapped in here with ME!"

      That line sums up Riddick's entire character-- he stalks through the
      film with predatory grace, impossible to intimidate. He's an
      appealing character-- primal, but very smart-- and Diesel does well
      to keep up the stiff, measured, menacing performance that he colored
      the character with in Pitch Black. He's got a pretty good cast
      behind him, too-- David's actually proven himself to be a good voice
      actor in productions like Gargoyles and 3x3 Eyes.

      What amused me the most is Tress MacNeille, one of the country's
      most talented voiceover artists, as Chillingsworth-- I'm accustomed
      to see her playing the corporate lady on The Simpsons, not an arch
      villainess. It makes for an amusing departure for her.

      Getting Peter Chung to create and direct the Dark Fury animation was
      a stroke of genius. Not only are his character aesthetics (lanky and
      sinewy) perfectly suited to bringing Vin Diesel to life as a cartoon
      character, Chung is a breed apart from garden-variety Japanese anime
      directors. See, unlike them, Chung really appreciates and
      concentrates on movement-- even in comparatively low-budget works
      like Reign, he takes every opportunity to throw in whip-takes,
      rotating camera shots, and almost fully-animated backgrounds. He
      does well here, setting up a series of violent close combat scenes
      that would put the experts at GONZO to shame.

      His hand is really evident in Dark Fury's finest moment, a climactic
      knife fight between Riddick and Junner, who, like a lot of Chung bad
      guys, wears sunglasses and a constant sneer. As the two fighting men
      brandish their weapons and circle in, Chung deliberately distorts
      the perspective-- their shoulders broaden and skew, their limbs
      lengthen-- and then they explode into combat. It's an effect that's
      a little silly, but very striking and very unique, something he's
      been putting to good use since Aeon Flux.

      Sadly, the DVD package reflects its cheap asking price of $14.99.
      There are a couple of small extras (it's fun to watch Diesel attempt
      to explain the story behind the cartoon-- he's this big, musclebound
      movie star, but also a really obvious geek), but the program itself
      is only thirty-five minutes long. The spine indicates that Dark Fury
      is widescreen, but it's 1.85-- non-anamorphic.

      I'm not a videophile by any stretch of the imagination, but this is
      actually starting to become an issue for me, as I do a lot of DVD
      watching on a portable widescreen player. Worst of all, there are no
      chapter stops-- so take care not to pop the DVD out before you're
      done viewing, lest you be forced to sit there and relive the good
      old VCR days of slowly shuttling through footage. Despite the show's
      high gloss, it probably would have made a better DVD extra than an
      actual self-contained feature.

      Dark Fury is a very interesting piece of work-- I'm definitely not
      accustomed to seeing animated tie-ins to live action films that
      actually involve the entire senior production team from the movie,
      but maybe this is a continuance of the trend that The Animatrix
      started. There is also a Korean-animated Van Helsing OVA, but it
      doesn't have a big name like Chung's attached. This is is a neat
      production that will almost certainly satisfy fans seeking more of
      the Riddick character (or more of Vin Diesel in general), but
      despite its good animation and smart dialogue, Dark Fury isn't going
      to win any new fans over. That's the curse inherent in something
      like this-- it's too small. It's a side project, and really can't be
      appreciated any other way.
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