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Shadow Magic

Sun Aug 30, 2015, 2:42 AM
Welcome once again to Film in Progress! This is a series of articles I am doing on works in progress by filmmakers and animators. Sometimes in our line of work we don't have a lot to show for a long time because lets be honest, production time for film or animation takes an awful long time so it's difficult to show people what you're working on. So what I hope to achieve in these series of articles is to give you a chance to talk about something you're working on, and if you have stills and other pieces of development work you can show it off here as well! 

To take part in this project or for more information just send me a note I can talk to you (and your team if applicable) about it!

Today we have tiffa with her kickstarter project, Shadow Magic!

Hi there tiffa! Let's begin with a little about yourself so the community know who you are. So tell us about yourself! How did you get into animation and do you do it for a living?

Hi Kingman! I'm Tiffany Lei, producer/director at KAGE Productions, a small team based out of Vancouver, Canada. We specialize in creating anime and manga content for comics, games and animation properties. I've been working in the local industry since I graduated from film school in 2000. 

Oh man, what's not to love about film and animation!? Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be an animator and work on a Disney movie! I loved all of them that featured animals. I think The Lion King was my favorite. Eventually I did get to work on a Disney series called The Buzz on Maggie. But my real passion is for traditional, hand-drawn animation. There's just something so amazing about turning anything you can draw into something alive! It wasn't until around 1997 when Sailor Moon first aired here in Canada that I began to draw human characters, because I found the anime style people to be so different from what I was used to. It really appealed to me in both art style and storytelling technique.

The problem is, there's no real opportunity for someone who loves anime to work in this style in North America. This is one of my motivations in starting this project- to create jobs for the amazing talent on our continent with our own unique take! 

Avery Concept Sheet by tiffa

Ben Concept Sheet by tiffa

Shadow Magic Anime Trailer

That's awesome! Nothing like pursuing your childhood dreams, truly inspirational stuff! And you've even managed to get some experience with Disney, that's an amazing step! Totally with you on the hand-drawn animation, being a great supporter of that myself!

Your project, Shadow Magic, is clearly anime influenced. What made you choose to go in the anime-direction with your project as opposed to sticking with Disney? And do you think you'll revisit your old styles?

Animation is definitely a pursuit of passion! We went with the anime style for Shadow Magic because it's an action-oriented story. We felt that design-wise and storytelling-wise, anime represented how we wanted to tell the story of Shadow Magic. We will be incorporating aspects of Western traditional animation techniques as well, and hopefully forge ourselves a unique and recognizable style. 

While my studio is kind of branded as anime and manga influenced, we retain our love for old school Disney animation. We'd totally love the opportunity to take it on! There's no limit to where imagination can take us! As long as we can draw it, it can happen =D (Big Grin)

Shadow Magic Anime Trailer: Cleans

Darkness by tiffa

Of course, you should absolutely aim for your own style, I wish you the very best of luck with that!

And on that note it would be a good time to ask you about you more about studio! Tell us a little about Kage Productions and your team!

Thank you for the well wishes! We need all the help we can get lol. It's always a risk trying something new.
Myself and my team have been working in the Vancouver animation, comics and games industries for 10+ years. Some of the studios we've worked with include Disney, DHX Media, Bardel Entertainment, United Front Games and DeNA Games! We're small- about 4 core members currently, with several team members we hope to bring on full-time with the success of our project. 

It's my goal to create a studio where the fantastic talent outside of Japan have the opportunity to pursue their passions and make a living doing it! It's been a shock to see the decline in traditional animation being made in North America and painful to watch such talented, experienced animators losing their jobs. While I totally understand how expensive it is to produce traditional animation just in man-power alone, I strongly believe in fostering a community of creativity and not allowing a select few to pad their own pockets. I'm an artist myself, after all!

I don't want to lose the art of 2D hand-drawn animation. It's worth keeping alive and passing on these skills to future generations. I can't be the only one who feels this way. 

Shadow Magic 2015 by tiffa

Shadow Magic: Trailer Animatic

Risk takers often produce the best results! Sadly this decline has been felt worldwide, Studio Ghibli took quite a hit as I'm sure you know. I don't want the great art of 2D hand drawn animation to die out either, I think there have been great studios who are still triumphing in this! Such as Cartoon Saloon in Ireland with Secret of the Kells and Song of the Sea!

All the greatest studios start small anyway so I would say just keep going and do what you love doing!

That sets us up nicely for the main topic, tell us more about your exciting project, Shadow Magic!

Thank you, it will be wonderful to build a home for those passionate about 2D animation! 

While we're taking care of several client projects, KAGE Productions has launched a KickStarter campaign to produce an original property, Shadow Magic, as a 2D animated pilot. We're super excited to have Vic Mignogna and Yuri Lowenthal as part of our cast, too!

The KickStarter campaign:…

As little as $5 can make a difference if enough people pitch in!

We're offering all kinds of download rewards including the original Shadow Magic audio drama and graphic novel. Some higher tiers include plushies, animation classes hosted by us, and having your own character appear in the show!

So what's the story about? Imagine the epic fantasy of Lord of the Rings, with the sci-fi action of Star Wars with the dynamic and relatable characters in Harry Potter. Add interdimensional warfare and you have Shadow Magic.

Avery, the main character, is an avid MMORPG player. When she's suddenly given the chance to live out her game character fantasy in real life with swords and magic, she takes it on with enthusiasm. However, it doesn't take long for her to realize fantasy and reality are very different. 

Shadow Magic was previously released as an audio drama in 2002, an internationally published graphic novel in 2006 (Arcana Comics) and my student film from 2000, which was also based on Shadow Magic, appeared on national television station YTV Canada, international film festivals and several news networks. 

The Shadow Magic project has been in development for many years and with the advent of crowd funding, the opportunity to produce the animated pilot episode is more within reach than ever! Because traditional animation is so labor-intensive and time consuming, we're turning to you awesome people- the public, for help in making this happen.

Our roadblock in the past was investors wouldn't commit without a broadcaster on board, and broadcasters wouldn't commit without investors on board. No on would take the first step, regardless of how interested they were in the show. it's a frustrating catch-22. Now we have the chance to skip that and go directly to the audience who would like to see this happen, and without having to bend to the will of executives, we can tell the story how it was meant to be told without restrictions.

Some of our content might not be appropriate for a kids network as we are leaning towards more mature story telling that's common in anime. We really want to make something we, ourselves want to see made. And our dream would be to produce it at the level of Studio Ghibli and old school Disney. This may be unrealistic for an entire series production schedule, but we'd like to put the effort into this pilot and make it a benchmark for things to come. 

When I say 'pilot', it's the first episode in what we hope will become a full series. Once we have a pilot produced, we can shop it around as a proof of concept, and with an audience behind us (pledgers), we can prove to them there's an audience willing to back us up! That will give big time investors and broadcasters the confidence to give us what we need to produce a full season of episodes.

New Year 2015 by tiffa

2D Animation Process

Animation: Scene 10- Jenova by tiffa

I have to say I'm slightly envious but by all means happy for you that you were able to recruit Vic Mignogna and Yuri Lowenthal for your project!

It seems like you've been crazily ambitious and mixed the best of so many things together. As with all the best things, it sounds like a totally mad project, but it's also one that I really want to see come to life! You are blending what so many love about animé and gaming, I can really see this taking off!

I completely sympathise with the road blocks you experienced, this is first and foremost a project built on passion, but the only way to hit the top with so much competition around is to keep pushing the boat out as far as you can. Hopefully this pilot will just be the start of something great, I'm sure absolutely no one here can fault you on effort!

I trust you will be (or have already done so) sneaking this into some animé/comic cons?

Vic and Yuri are awesome! And I'm incredibly grateful for their support =) (Smile)

I think a lot of people can identify with the gaming angle along with many other struggles the characters in Shadow Magic will go through. 

We can only hope our campaign can reach enough people, because I know it's something everyone can enjoy. If I end up having to animate it entirely myself, I will do it- it might take like, 20 years to do the pilot by myself, but I'll do it LOL! 

I've been regularly attending conventions again within the last 3 years or so. Always with a table or booth. To be honest, I'm a little disappointed there isn't a great reception for original work like there used to be back in 2001-2005 (when I first started doing conventions). Locally, I've been hosting industry panels at Anime Revolution here in Vancouver. The video of Dan and I discussing the 2D animation pipeline can be found here:

Last weekend was Anime Revolution 2015, and we expanded our topic to include comics and games as well. I'm still editing that one xD;; Coming soon!

The conventions we've been attending are Sakura Con in Seattle, WA, Anime Revolution in Vancouver, BC, and Anime Expo in Los Angeles. The latter of which I've had to skip the last couple of years due to the absence of industry networking opportunities. This year shows a lot of improvement, and it would be awesome to head down there again! We try to get involved at as many local events as we can. We've also visited CTN Expo in Burbank, CA, which is focused more on the Western animation industry. Again, another we'd like to revisit. We've also been invited to the World Animation Celebration, hosted by Sony Pictures, coming up in October where the animated short we're currently working on will debut.

Last year, another animated short we worked on was shown in New York at the Urban Action Showcase film fest.

Needless to say, San Diego Comicon would be on the list, though I'm rather intimidated by the difficulty of acquiring tickets, let alone a table! 

Suggestions and recommendations are greatly appreciated =D (Big Grin)!

Pilot Episode KickStarter Project is GO by tiffa

Soria Novel Trailer [Full Version]

Well hopefully you won't be the lone animator for 20 years! I know how it's like being a lone animator myself! *sob sob*

I haven't been to many conventions in my time so I can't really offer a good opinion about how work is received there. But as the old saying goes, you have to be in it to win it! So I think you're doing the right thing by entering your work wherever you can. In a world that moves so fast now, especially with the Internet and social media, it's great that you can shout louder than ever but so can everyone else. We all need those lucky breaks and I hope yours will come soon!

And in all fairness you haven't done badly for yourself it seems, but of course always strive for better! So if any if you readers have any suggestions do send them this way!

Finally to wrap this up, my favourite question that I like to ask all my interviewees, do you have any advice you'd like to give to all the students and young animators/filmmakers out there?

Ahaha!! Oh man, being an animator is hard work, but we can't seem to stop!

It's certainly been an uphill battle, but then again, I have a habit of challenging myself and taking the most difficult pathSweating a little...; I guess I'm one of those people who isn't satisfied by taking the path of least resistance. xD I have to say I'm happier than I've ever been while working for myself and doing something I believe in.

Hmmmmmmmmm advice for the aspiring film makers and animators- heck, I'm still aspiring! That's so hard!! I mean, there isn't really one blanket statement I can offer. Maybe this: Don't waste time comparing your work to others, just try to become better than you were yesterday. =D (Big Grin)

And of course, any readers out there are welcome to contact me via the KAGE Productions Facebook page or by DeviantArt note if they have any further questions! It would be awesome to hear from you ^_^.

Thank you so much for the interview, Kingman! And thanks to the readers for wading through my rambling... xD. I hope you'll check out our animated pilot episode campaign on KickStarter and consider making a small pledge <3! Your support is sincerely appreciated, even if you're only able to pass our link along.

Have a fantastic day!

Absolutely, I cannot say that enough to people, work super hard if you want to be an animator! And very kind of you to welcome offer some of your valuable time to give advice to the young aspiring designers out there, I'm sure many will take you up on that offer!

And no thank -you- for an insightful interviewee! It's always a pleasure for me to talk to like minded individuals and find out what makes them tick. Once again I wish you the best of luck with your Kickstarter and future projects, I'll certainly be keeping an eye on your studio! Please all readers take a moment to give some support and if you have any extra funds, send them this way!

On a final note I've also been informed that tiffa and the crew are also holding an art contest to celebrate their pilot episode campaign! You can win cash prizes and open voice acting auditions! Details are in their forum (registration not necessary).

Chibi Osprey and Mouse by tiffa

Patterns by Subtle Patterns | Fonts by Google Web Fonts | Layout & Code by kingmancheng & pica-ae | Copyright 2013
Add a Comment:
RTNightmare Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh geez, we both named a series Shadow Magic. Mine is probably very different, it's a story I've been developing for over 6 years. 

I wonder what yours will be like.
iremovepest Featured By Owner May 2, 2016
Nice, lol !!
DawnSky-MidnightDim Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2016  Student General Artist
//This seems absolutely amazing! I have been drawing in an Anime style for a LONG time, and have hoped to animate something like this! :D
//This seems a lot of work, but I am currently in China, so I cannot spread it to somewhere like FaceBook or Twitter, but I may can spread it the best I can!
//Good Luck with Animating Tiffany! <3
alexandersinnelius Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2015
Seems like a large production.
Sachi-pon Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
"I don't want to lose the art of 2D hand-drawn animation. It's worth keeping alive and passing on these skills to future generations. I can't be the only one who feels this way. "

i feel the same way.
kingmancheng Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2015  Professional Filmographer
As do I! I will continue to fight! 

Sachi-pon Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
as you can see from my signature, i support this project.

we all need to spread the word and make it happen! come on everyone. :eager:
WDWParksGal-Stock Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
It is super cool to realize artists are creating in the anime-style in North America! Much good luck to the animators :iconbwavoplz:
tiffa Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you kindly for giving it a read =D. We'll continue working at it =).
WDWParksGal-Stock Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Great to hear :hug:
GeorgeXVII Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015   Traditional Artist
Great interview and article ! 
Keep it up tiffa !
good job kingmancheng :clap:
kingmancheng Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015  Professional Filmographer
Thank you! It was the work that really made it! ;)
tiffa Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you so much for reading, and thank you Kingman for featuring my work <3!
kingmancheng Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2015  Professional Filmographer
It was my pleasure! <3
GeorgeXVII Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015   Traditional Artist
CrystallineDreamer Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow! Great interview/article! :)
tiffa Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Yay! I hope it was somewhat insightful~
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