Production, part 9

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Production, part 9: The Graphics Team

Because of his love for visual storytelling, director Stu Levy spent much of his career working in the field of manga and the sequential art medium, however he has always emphasized the similarities between telling a visual story on paper and on the screen. Perhaps because of this influence, he puts a significant amount of emphasis on the graphical elements within his film productions. In a documentary such as Pray for Japan, it may be hard to imagine the presence of graphics, however they are woven throughout the film.

graphics_map_screenshot_smcopyFrom the motion graphics used within the statistical cards in the beginning of the film to the subtitle design of the red flower and matching font elements of the supers (titles), to the opening animation and its companion motion cards between the stories, all these elements are part of Stu’s vision for the visual story. Through this graphical visualization, key information and aesthetic relevance is communicated, working together with the audio and filmed video elements to bring the story to the audience.

While nothing compares to actually spending time in Tohoku after the tragedy, our goal with Pray for Japan is to communicate that experience to the world, to capture the trials, tribulations and small but important moments of triumph that occurred during the immediate recovery period. And the graphics are the icing not only on the cake but in between the cake’s layers.

Our volunteer team in the graphics area is superb. Yukari “Yuka” Kaneko, who handled a wide range of graphics work on this project from creating various graphic design textures, typeface effects, and backgrounds to animating sequences in After Effects, she pulled from years of experience to deliver the top quality artwork under very stressful deadlines, all in her spare time away from her “day job.”

Raymond Cinemato provided motion graphics and animation, working with Justin Hernandez, that became the animated map in the beginning of the film and the series of statistical cards in the early section. Raymond also delivered the trailer for the film, working closely with Stu to come up with a concept that would sum up the film’s message and provide the range of skills (sound mixing and production, editing, and motion graphics) needed to properly execute.

In the very beginning of the project, when Stu was filming in Tohoku, he called upon a TOKYOPOP intern at the time, Gina McClurg, to create iconic elements including the Pray for Japan logo, flower, and other illustrations that have stayed with the project the entire time. Finally, Gina’s friend Vivian Nikolich animated Gina’s center “globe” in the logo which is used in the opening title sequence of the film and on the trailers and clips.

YukaTinyYukari “Yuka” Kaneko

Yukari Kaneko has been a developer working in the visual effects department of various video games. She had been an environment artist before she became an FX artist in 2004. She has been working in the game industry since 1996. In 2011, Yukari became known as Yuka and started writing her own comic strips called Reaching Alpha. Reaching Alpha is about video game developers in LA and introduces everyday life of developers in a comical 4 panel format in Manga style.

Yuka’s broad and deep knowledge of 2D and 3D design has enhanced many of the projects that Stu has done over the past years, including Pray For Japan.

raymond_cinematoRaymond Cinemato

Raymond Cinemato is an avid filmmaker who has been recognized by many prestigious establishments including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His work as a filmmaker has been utilized by many top industry professionals, recently including Stu Levy and Ashton Kutcher.

Raymond is currently hard at work wrapping the trailer for Pray for Japan, and prepping two feature films for release.

You can find more on Raymond Cinemato @

Graphics team:

Motion Graphics: Raymond Cinemato, Justin Hernandez, Yukari Kaneko

Illustrations & Logo Design: Gina McClurg

Animated Logo Design: Vivian Nikolich

Go to Part 10 –>

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