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With any given series, there's a lot of names and titles being thrown around in the opening and closing credits.

What are the typical key roles (E.g., art director, color-setters (iro shitei), producer, director, series coordinator) and their primary responsibilities? Are there also any roles or departments exclusive or work differently in anime production than in traditional or western animation?

  • If you want to dive a bit deeper into the making of anime, I suggest watching Shirobako, a recent anime that shows what a production studio runs like. Don't be put off by the first few minutes that look straight out of a typical high school slice of life show, since it shifts quickly into the actual plot. – user15002 Jun 11 '15 at 20:29
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There's a pretty good summary of a lot of the positions here.

  • Original Creator

  • Director

  • Enshutsu (Animation Technical Director)

  • Character Designer

  • Animation Supervisor

  • Key Animators

  • Inbetweeners

  • Producer

  • Art Director (Art Model and Background)

  • Color Coordinator

  • Finisher

  • Special Effect / CG Artist

These are just a few highlights:

Original Creator (gensaku)
The original creator is the person who came up with the concept for the story originally. This may be the original manga creator, a novelist, game developer, playwright, author, oracle, prophet, or whoever can come up with an original idea.

Enshutsu
Often translated as animation director or technical director. Enshutsu is one of the most difficult and most important jobs in the Japanese animation industry. The enshutsu is between the director (kantoku) and the production staff. He is responsible for checking and supervising the show through the production, from initial story to the final released product, and in many cases, has almost total control over it. He checks the animation drawings as they are being done, sets up the scenes before they go to camera and supervises the sound and voice recordings and all the editing amongst many other jobs. The exact job and responsibilities vary from company to company, and from show to show as well. Sometimes the enshutsu ends up as the whipping boy for the director; sometimes he or she carries the show and the director sits back and watches. On larger productions there is sometimes more than one enshutsu and usually quite a few assistants. It is important to have a good knowledge of animation production as well as artistic talent to do the job and it usually takes four or more years in the industry before someone can do the job right.

Inbetweening (douga)
The inbetweeners use the key drawings as reference points and produce drawings that fit between the positions on the keys. This smoothes out the movement and makes the animation look better. (The more inbetweens there are, the more fluid the movement becomes and the more expensive the animation becomes.) Inbetweening is a relatively non-creative job. It is more tracing than anything else. The hours are long and the key animators are sometimes very hard to work with. The cruelest part of being an inbetweener is that they rarely get to work on anything they are fans of and what they do get to work on they burn out on quickly. (I know some animators and an enshutsu that you can send into convulsions by whispering "Ranma" in their ears.) After 2 or 3 years of grueling inbetweening, animators who can handle it are usually promoted to keys.

As for a position that is present in anime production but not as common in western or traditional animation, I could could only find one position that might fit the bill.

Color Coordination (Iroshitei)
The Color Coordinator decides all the colors for everything that will be painted/colored by the shiage department in the show and creates an iroshitei hyou (color model pack) that the staff can refer to when painting. This job requires not only good color sense but a good memory, as the CC should be able to keep an idea of what the colors for the whole show look like in her head so that when questions come up about small details and things not in the iroshitei hyou she doesn't need to pull all the models and think about it.

The CC makes color models of each of the characters and the props, mecha etc. in the computer paint system. The painters use these models when coloring the various scenes.

In the old days of liquid paint, there were 327 commonly used Taiyou Shikisai (Taiyo Paint Company) cel paints but they had over 1,000 in their catalog. Each color had a code number which originally was its equivalent to the DIC (Dai Nippon Ink Company) code. Color code numbers were usually a letter followed by numbers like GY-40 and RP-99. (Some companies used another paint company - Stack - but their paint was more expensive (and higher quality) and the paint codes were different.)

A good way of telling that you had done this job too long is when you lookout a train window at a sunset or forest and find yourself determining what paint colors they it is composed of. Computers have made life a lot easier with 16.7 million colors ending the need for weird paint codes but now you look at that sunset and wonder what dpi you would have to scan it in to get good output quality.

I'm sure other types of animations have color coordinators but this one is somewhat specific to anime since it deals with a specific Asian company and their limited paint color selection.

The full page is worth a read as it has a lot of the Japanese names of positions in addition to their translated names.

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