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How AI Is Redeveloping Japan’s Labour-Intensive Anime Industry Posted Jun 26, 2020

The world is fast evolving, with AI at the forefront in changing the way we live, learn, and seek entertainment. AI has a wide range of applications in healthcare, retail and e-commerce, food tech, banking, gaming, as well as the surveillance industry. AI technologies bring superior face recognition capabilities, thus providing proactive and real-time security. This has a massive application for operators as they need to ensure that the players are following the casino house rules.

AI has also transformed Japan’s labour-intensive anime industry as it now provides partial automation of action between keyframes. Keep reading to know more about it.

RADIUS5’s program to redevelop fuzzy animation into high-definition productions

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people stuck at their home remain glued to streaming services as a way to pass time. It seems like the perfect time for anime and manga to pick up their game and pump out more hits.

However, just like the audience, Japan’s animation industry is stuck, unable to update popular titles like Digimon Adventure and One Piece, work on which has slowed as the crisis shuts down the majority of production crews.

But a few startups are using this time as an opportunity to create their place in the industry. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Daisuke Urushihara, CEO of RADIUS5, has developed an AI program to redevelop fuzzy animations into high-definition productions. The process that took almost three days to complete can now be done in a fraction of the time with far fewer staff.

While 8K is the current state of the art in the video, obtaining the highest quality anime is dependent on a cast of already overworked animators, as most of the work is done by hand.

RADIUS5’s program transforms the hand-drawn images into richly detailed 8K quality without much manual input, based on data collected from the machine learning algorithm. The work is garnering importance as the world transitions towards 8K and high-bandwidth 5G networks.

Artificial Intelligence can reduce workloads in other ways as well. For example, depending on the subject movement, every second of animation consists of 54 frames. AI-based programs can think through each second and create the transitional frames needed to create smoother action.

AI could boost exports of Japanese manga

Meanwhile, advancements in AI can also boost exports of Japanese manga, which has a large global fan following. As the translation costs are still very high, very few manga are localized. Even with the current technology, rendering text in speech bubbles is difficult as the manga’s own language is filled with unusual typographical characters and culturally unique onomatopoeia. All these things make it challenging for even advanced AI programs to translate.

Tokyo-based Mantra has a solution to this problem. By employing a special reading algorithm based on linguistic data from about 200 manga titles, it quickly produces natural translation. At the start, the AI program identifies text in speech bubbles, which is then passed to another program that picks out the context from the frames. The finished product is eventually output into English.

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