MATRIX: How did you get into computers and anime?

HIROTA-SAN: I originally went to university for mechanical engineering. After graduating I took a one-year course in computer graphics. Once I was finished at university, I couldn’t imagine going to work as an engineer and looking back years later feeling I’d followed the wrong path. I’d always been interested in images and movies, and thought one way to get into that field would be to learn about computer graphics. It didn’t matter to me whether I was going to be working in animation or regular commercial production.

MATRIX: What was your reaction when you learned you’d be working on THE ANIMATRIX?

HIROTA-SAN: I was surprised. I hadn’t really imagined myself doing that kind of work before. When I first saw the storyboards for BEYOND it was quite a surprise, it was totally different from anything I’d seen in THE MATRIX.

MATRIX: Talk about some of the immediate and consequent challenges.

HIROTA-SAN: The biggest challenge for me is always taking the images and visions created by another person, and finding a way to share in that vision. So, on this project, the challenges arose in trying to visualize what Morimoto-san [Director, BEYOND] actually wanted to see as a final picture.

MATRIX: Has working with Morimoto-san been what you expected?

HIROTA-SAN: I have wanted to work with Morimoto-san for some time. Now that I’ve been given the chance it’s been fun, but it’s also been a challenge to keep up with Morimoto’s creative pace.

MATRIX: Do you have a favorite shot in BEYOND?

HIROTA-SAN: My favorite sequence so far is the scene that takes place in the bug house, where the kids and Yoko are playing together. I built that whole thing in 3-D and did all the camera moves in 3-D, as well as actually projecting hand drawn art work onto the 3-D geometry. I think it all works to create some visually pleasing shots, with some interesting camera moves and a lot of beautiful 2-D elements. I think my work has been a great contribution to that sequence.

MATRIX: Did you work on any of the character designs?

HIROTA-SAN: I’ve been mostly concentrating on the interiors. Someone else working with me is actually animating scenes like the truck sequence.

MATRIX: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

HIROTA-SAN: From pieces I watched when I was growing up, like Fist of the North Star and Dragonball Z had an influence on me.

MATRIX: How much of this animation was CGI?

HIROTA-SAN: Maybe between 20-30%.

MATRIX: How would you describe BEYOND?

HIROTA-SAN: It’s about something very weird that happens in the middle of a regular day in someone’s everyday life.

MATRIX: Thank you, Hirota-san.

Interview by REDPILL

Translated by Mike Arias

July 2002