DIRECTOR: THE SECOND RENAISSANCE: PARTS 1 & 2
did our first interview back in November 2000; what has it
been like, now that we've reached the end of
production on SECOND RENAISSANCE?
MAEDA-SAN: When we
first spoke I had already decided the direction I wanted to take with
SECOND RENAISSANCE. After I received the plot, I had some ideas of my
own and put some of my own thoughts into the story, then resubmitted
I got feedback on my suggestions, it was clear that they wanted me to
stick closer to their story, as SECOND RENAISSANCE is a very important
pair of episodes,
so I focused on trying to convey the essence of what they wanted to say
with the film.
It has been
a good two years working on this project now; Larry and Andy trust me
so much that we haven't needed to talk a lot, and have actually had very
the production. The few times we’ve
had meetings about the two episodes, I’ve been a little tense,
since I have a lot of responsibility for the film. I concentrate
to communicate their intentions through the animation, which is very
difficult. Mixing together their original idea and my thoughts on the
me in high spirits, but I’m relieved now that they've approved
most of my ideas. I hope that they really like it, getting a positive
response from them would be great.
MATRIX: There are incredible
amounts of detail in SECOND RENAISSANCE: Parts 1 & 2, covering
long period of time; what were some of the challenges in making the story
MAEDA-SAN: SECOND RENAISSANCE
is in many ways like a lecture being given by artificial intelligence.
Usually animation has a very traditional story structure, but this film
really feels more like a lecture series. Making a story like this exciting,
and keeping it from feeling stiff was the first and most difficult problem
I faced. As a way around it, I first came up with the idea of using
through whose eyes we’d watch the story unfold — that way
the narrative would become more story-driven. I changed my mind, though,
and in the end focused on the idea of exploring the history of the Matrix
through the Archives itself. That allowed for a more elaborate way of
unfolding the story across the two parts of SECOND RENAISSANCE; in Part
One, we see humans treat robots as objects, while in Part Two the relationship
between human being and robot switches, as humans are studied by the
machines. I enjoyed examining how the two sides changed.
MATRIX: Was there heavy
use of computers for these episodes?
MAEDA-SAN: I used 3-D CGI
for the robot and instructor to make them more realistic.
MATRIX: Did you find the
combined 18-minute running time for SECOND RENAISSANCE at all daunting?
MAEDA-SAN: Originally, Parts
One and Two were supposed to be 12 minutes long, six minutes each, but
I wanted to make the scenes where the instructor is telling the history
of the Matrix more like a Greek legend in scope. We eventually had to
expand a few scenes, so they wound up coming in at 18 minutes.
MATRIX: There were some
wonderful details in the episodes that weren’t in the script. Could
you elaborate on some of the touches you brought to the story?
MAEDA-SAN: I wanted
to show the broadness of the society, and how the robots were such a
part of the background of life that they were treated as mere objects
beings. I wanted to emphasize that element in the opening by starting
out with a broad establishing shot, and then pulling in close on the
MATRIX: There’s a
shot in Part One of SECOND RENAISSANCE where the robot is getting shot,
which is taken from a famous photo of a student being executed; how did
MAEDA-SAN: In exploring the
history of the Matrix I wanted to show the audience how badly the robots
were being treated. The images we see of the robots being abused are buried
in the Archives. There are many examples of mankind’s cruelty in
the past, and to imitate an example from real life seemed like a good
MATRIX: How did some of the
other references come about?
MAEDA-SAN: For the scene
where the robot is crashed by the tank, I referred to the Tiananmen
incident in China, and what happened between the Chinese army and people.
The other scene, where the bulldozer buries the crashed robots, I referred
to what happened in Auschwitz.
MATRIX: Was it your intention
to find a connection with actual history?
MAEDA-SAN: I felt it would
play as ironic that the same things kept repeating throughout history.
And remember, the robots didn’t intend to kill humanity. They were
trying to build a good relationship with the human race, but what happens
is that humans take revenge on the robots. So in the world of The Matrix,
human beings are kept alive by the robots, as the robots pull energy
of them. It’s the opposite of Utopia for the humans. I wanted audiences
to enjoy the visually ironic scenes as an example of how everything
complexly intertwined. It’s possible some audiences might get frustrated
by watching those cruel scenes, but I hoped it would be a good opportunity
for viewers to reflect and consider what being normal means, and whether
this behavior is normal or not.
MATRIX: Who is the villain?
MAEDA-SAN: In this world
there are no villains. Just like in the real world, only different positions
in society or differences in value or ideas. Those differences are what
lead to conflict in life. When audiences
watch both segments of SECOND RENAISSANCE, I want them to think about
how differently they would look at life if they just considered it from
other side of society.
MATRIX: The two parts of
SECOND RENAISSANCE come first chronologically among the short films.
there any added burden, knowing your sequences are going to be at the
beginning of the episodes?
MAEDA-SAN: Of course. The
SECOND RENAISSANCE episode is the first episode the audience will see
after the motion picture. My main concern was to bring to the stories
of the original motion picture, and retain the feel of the world of the
Matrix. I wanted these episodes to feel like a continuation of
MATRIX: Is it a liberating
feeling, now that the episodes are done?
MAEDA-SAN: I feel relieved,
of course... but there are some parts that I regret not doing. I’m
happy with most of it, and am especially satisfied with the final
image of the instructor. Thanks go to my
staff, who worked very hard for me so the image of the instructor would
be realized as I envisioned it. I want the audience to enjoy the images
and I am looking forward to seeing the film with the final soundtrack.
MATRIX: Will you be working
with Don Davis on the music and the sound effects team from
THE MATRIX RELOADED?
MAEDA-SAN: Yes, and I’m
looking forward to working with Don Davis, as well as on the sound effects.
interested in Don's ideas and how he plans to marry the sound effects
the many short sequences throughout the episodes, which might be difficult.
I’m looking forward to seeing the end result.
MATRIX: How would you describe
SECOND RENAISSANCE to someone who didn’t
know what the series was about?
MAEDA-SAN: I wanted to make
this film as beautiful as a story from ancient Greek myth, and explore
what it means to be human, as well as not human, and how the ideas
are related to one another. In Greek myths there are moments where the
best side of human nature is explored, and others where the protagonists
are shown as very cruel. I wanted bring the same atmosphere to these
RENAISSANCE involves a robot butler that was designed by Geof Darrow;
did you have a good time working with Geof's designs?
MAEDA-SAN: When I read the
story I came up with an image of the robot whose trial really instigates
the shift of power between humans and machines, but then I found out
the character had been designed already by Geof. I saw his design and
thought it was beautiful — there were so many detailed lines in
his conceptualization of the butler that I was concerned how I would
it to work in animation. I had to eliminate some of the linework, but
I hope that Geof likes how it turned out.
MATRIX: There were
also Fetus Harvesters to animate; what was it like representing versions
of those creatures?
MAEDA-SAN: I took a more
primitive approach with the Harvester than what was shown in the
original MATRIX. I figured the Harvester we saw in the movie was more
advanced than the one we encounter here, so I redesigned the model a
little bit. Also, the robots in these episodes are more focused on hunting
beings, so their way of attacking was more aggressive.
MATRIX: With plans to distribute
the episodes over the Internet as well as on DVD, are you excited about
people being able to download SECOND RENAISSANCE onto their computers?
MAEDA-SAN: It'll be ironic
to see them on a PC. It’s very interesting to think of people being
able to download and watch these episodes wherever they are, whenever
they want to.
MATRIX: Is anxiety
going to increase as the episodes get closer to release; are you still
thinking about it a lot?
MAEDA-SAN: I’ve already
started work on my next production, so in a month and a half, while
waiting for their release, I’ll be focused on the next film. Of
course I look forward to the release of THE MATRIX RELOADED, and look
forward to seeing
the final version of THE SECOND RENAISSANCE.
MATRIX: Thank you, Maeda-San.
Interview by REDPILL
Translated by Isako