The first interview we will display here is with character designer Tetsuya Nomura.
Q: Why was a movie sequel to Final Fantasy VII decided for development, and when was it decided?
A: About a year back, Visual Works (a company that has developed CG movies for Square) picked FFVII as the theme for a presentation that they were going to create. Our research and development department worked with them on its launch, and I joined the crew after producer Kitase-san called me. It’s going to be released as a sequel, but it was planned to just be a visual presentation in the beginning.
Q: Why is Advent Children a movie instead of a game? Are there any differences between making a game and making a full movie?
A: First of all, we started off from the project that Visual Works was handling, but they can’t make a game on their own. We tried to see if we could make it into a game, but it wasn’t possible due to a number of factors. As a result, we decided to stick with the original plan and work on it as a movie production. The development isn’t too different from the way we make movies that get used in our games, but our schedule is a bit tight. We need to keep the cost down since it’s not a game, but [we still need to] maintain high quality.
Q: Are there any differences between creating movies for games and creating Advent Children?
A: There are more efforts put into the textures and the atmosphere. We usually need to balance [the movie graphics] with the game screen, but there are no such limitations in Advent Children, so we’re going all out on it.
Q: What meaning does Final Fantasy VII have for you?
A: It was the Final Fantasy game that I was most involved in, and it is also my favorite. It’s also where the series takes a radical change [from past FF titles].
Q: How is production going?
A: We are at about 10 percent done. Not all the characters have been created yet, but the scenario has already been completed.
A: What you are seeing now is the result of numerous explorations. Since it was impossible to bring the look [from FFVII] directly to the new realistic look (in Advent Children), the characteristics that would allow anybody to recognize Cloud and the others were left behind on them.
Q: What kind of standing does the new character fighting with Cloud have?
A: He is an enemy.
Q: Were the characters in Advent Children’s promotional video animated through motion capture?
A: They were animated by motion capture, but that capture was recently taken for promotional use. It isn’t a part of the main movie.
Q: Are the battle scenes also created through motion capture?
A: Many are, but parts that aren’t humanly possible are done by hand.
Q: Will the characters have voices? And will it be in English or Japanese?
A: The characters will have voices, but I can’t answer more.
Q: What is the theme of Advent Children?
A: Nojima, who handles the scenario, says that it won’t be something soft, like healing. It will be about survival.
Q: Where, specifically, will Advent Children take place? Will it be somewhere from the original Final Fantasy VII?
A: It’s hidden in the logo.
Q: How long will Advent Children be?
A: It is planned to run for 60 minutes.
Q: Are there any chances for a FFVII sequel to be developed as a game after the release of Advent Children?
A: I hope that this project may lead to something, since we woke up something that was sleeping.
Here is our second interview, conducted by 1up.com.
Q: Is Advent Children truly set for a simultaneous release in both North America and Japan?
A: Japan is September 14th, around the same time as the U.S. release. It might not be exactly simultaneous, but it would be less than a month later.
Q: Will the Japanese version be in Japanese and the U.S. version in English?
A: Sony Pictures are actually going to be distributing the product, so from their standpoint, as a DVD product, they will have the standard for this type of product, featuring both English and Japanese language.
Q: How did the subsequent showings at film festivals go? I met up with you and your team in Venice, but didn’t see how the reaction at the Montreal Film Festival went.
A: Well for me personally, I was only able to attend the Venice Film Festival and they also showed it at the Tokyo International Film Festival, which was after Montreal. So those were the only two I was able to attend, but our staff carried around their video cameras, and I was able to see the reactions at each of the locations. First and foremost I can tell that people’s reactions are very different in their own culture. It’s interesting to see how people react differently to different things, and having fans all around the world makes me realize how much love Final Fantasy VII has (the game), and how all these fans are just looking forward to and expecting huge things out of Advent Children. It’s been pretty overwhelming. I mean the film is making its way around the world, and seeing the reaction from each of the territories, I was kind of reminded how popular the Final Fantasy VII world and characters are. So it’s a completely different feeling that I have now.
Q: Some of the scenes we saw in Venice look more exciting and flashier in the new trailer. Is this my imagination or did you revamp a lot of the material for the final version?
A: Yeah, we’ve made adjustments since then. For the version that was shown at the Venice Film Festival we basically had to create something that was going to tell the story, but in a very short form. So I believe that was about 25 minutes. But there were some scenes, in order to tell that story, where we had to use what we had at that time. It was still in development, so there were a lot of adjustments we’ve made since then. The trailer that we’re showing right now is very close to the final product.
Q: It’s sort of surprising that it hasn’t been picked up for a theatrical release, considering how it’s grown to such a high-quality feature-length film. Weren’t you looking into the possibility of a theatrical run before the DVD release?
A: Well in Japan we’re actually in the midst of trying to plan something. It may not be as long as a feature film in terms of how many days it’s on screen, but we’re working on something. For the United States, Sony Pictures Entertainment is our parAer, so it’s been a little difficult contractually and some other issues have affected our plans and this plan to have a theatrical release move forward. When we showed the almost final and current version within the company — we’ve done a few screenings — everyone’s reaction has been “We want to see it on a bigger screen,” so I think that will be the same reaction consumers will have once they purchase the DVD. So it is something we hope that we can do, but usually having a theatrical release is something that needs a lot of planning time. And now that we’ve come this far and all of a sudden we’re trying to put this all together, it’s been a little slow at times, but hopefully we can make something happen.
Q: Advent Children was originally conceived as a 20-minute film, but now it’s, what, 100 minutes long? Any insights into 1) how it expanded into five times its original intended length, and 2) what sort of story did you think you were going to be able to stuff into the original 20 minutes? Lastly, what sort of extra material will be on the DVD?
A: The 20 or so minute project was an experiment, and it just so happens that Final Fantasy VII’s story and world was the material that was going to be used for that project. So the story for that version that was written by Mr. Nojima [Kazushige Nojima, scenario writer for many of the Final Fantasy games], and there was a theme and that was Cloud’s story after the events of Final Fantasy VII. So now we had a theme and something we could work off of, and it became a bigger, larger, and “real” project, not just an experiment. That’s when we decided to start over from scratch and go away from what the experiment project was all about.
The reason for that is because the 20-minute version wasn’t going to fulfill an entertainment aspect. The story wasn’t going to be enough for it, and it was a very sort of clean and quiet and very beautiful drama. It was going to be very simple. It only had two characters or so. So we actually had to move away from that and have Mr. Nojima start over from scratch, and create a longer version of the story. But the theme that was used for the 20-minute version still remained the same thing; it was Cloud and his years after. So then it became a real project, and then new scenarios were added. I added a lot of direction. I knew some scenes that had to be included if we were going to move forward with that. So doing all that and going back to taking a look the 20-minute version, there were some scenes in particular that I really wanted to use in this longer version. So we went back, picked out the scenes we really wanted to use, and combined it into the longer version, and that’s how it became a lot longer than originally planned.
For the Japanese version of the product, we’ve announced some of the bonuses that are going to be added to the package. Because of the territorial issues and language options, we may be limited, but we do want to try and bring out as much of the bonus content that is going to be included in the Japanese version into the U.S. version. Aside from the Advent Children story and DVD, there may be some other material that the fans will really enjoy. So there may be some new visual material. The Japanese will get a standalone and limited version. Next month we’ll announce what the bonuses are going to be.
Closing comment: Well, we’ll be looking forward to it. Good luck finishing up Kingdom Hearts II and Advent Children, and the rest of your many, many projects. Thanks again for your time and for inviting us to talk during your busy schedule.
Lastly, from GanGan.
Q: To get right to the point, at this year’s E3 the latest trailer was shown. Concerning the visuals, what aspects did you want to stand out?
A: The original characters have evolved so we’re aiming for the textures and atmosphere to feel real, but with the modeling we’re not looking for realism. As for the rest, we’ll go with what looks cool. The same goes for things like direction, and the battle scenes too, but by contrast we didn’t make it too realistic. I’m having the development team do things that are really exaggerated like the technique employed in anime and manga and such, where within a realistic atmosphere you have things that are done non-realistically, like the modeling of the characters in AC.
Q: Looking at the visuals, it’s turning out to be a production with a mysterious atmosphere, with there being what seems to be a fusion between non-realistic and realistic styles.
A: A fusion you say… well, I guess it might be. With there being a very fine balance that is, in any case, hard to put into words. If it became either more realistic or non-realistic, the present balance would probably be lost. It’s something that’s different also from your usual animation, I guess you could call it a new genre.
The gloomy lot gets into action all right!
Q: Continuing about the characters, the appearance of people from the original game making a continuing appearance here, has rather changed, hasn’t it?
A: Yes, the original FFVII was made in 1997 and 7 years have passed since then, and within the world of the characters themselves too, 2 years have passed so… As for the clothes, if they were the same as 2 years ago, I’d be like people saying ‘Is that one outfit all you own?’ (laughs) As for Vincent, his outfit hasn’t changed, it’s probably like he doesn’t have anything else (laughs). About Vincent, with a body that doesn’t age and is immortal, he’s a bit different from humans so I guess that’s why we took a chance in not changing his looks.
Q: Will the other characters that appeared in the game make an appearance as well?
A: The other characters… well, I’ll get in trouble if I say ‘that’s all?’ You’ll just ask me why, right? (laughs) FFVII’s characters were really popular, so such things are naturally being considered.
Q: About FFVII, the appearances of its gloomy characters have really gained popularity- Vincent among others for instance.
A: Yes, this time those people get plenty of instances to show off. (laughs) Well, it’s not that the party from the game will just get together once more and the story then develops from there… FFVII comprised an epic story totaling tens of hours, but when you compare the current FFVII:AC to it, the latter comes in really short. If all the previous members were to once again get together in the same place, that would be overkill so…
A: I guess you could say they’re siblings… Concerning their looks, if you’re thinking that, since the colour of their hair as well as the colour of their eyes is the same as Sephiroth’s, there might in some way be a connection… there is. (laughs) I can’t yet tell you what they’re after, but the keywords that appeared in the last trailer ‘Jenova’, ‘Reunion’, ‘Geostigma’ and such are connected to them. This time the story will start to develop with them at the centre. With them showing up, the peace that has lasted for 2 years will begin to deteriorate.
Q: About the much talked about story, firstly, what is the meaning of the subtitle, ‘Advent Children’?
A: The theme will be about ‘Advent’, which means ‘second coming’, and ‘Children’, which literally means ‘children’. Who is this ‘children’ referring to? In general it also encompasses Marlene and her friends. Children will be the key point of the story, and this time Cloud will have to come to their rescue. The game, is being about saving the Planet, had an epic story, but this time it’s about saving the children… What appeared in the last part of the most recent trailer, ‘Why is Cloud fighting once again?’, ‘Is it for the children? For a memory? Or, for himself?’, is something worth noticing.
Q: How will the story be connected with FFVII’s?
A: It’s not a story that will reveal the mysteries present in the game, but the thing is, that although we concluded FFVII back then, I think that there probably are among the players, those for whom there are still unclear things remaining about the character of Cloud who’s role they assumed. Why is Cloud, who is now living by himself in solitude, in fact alone? Aside from this, there must surely be parts that trouble the minds of people who played FFVII… Pertaining to that, I think that in more ways than one, Cloud will settle things this time.