“Stranger Things”: Fates’ Jesse Norton on Making That 80’s Anime Fan Trailer [VIDEO]

The stealth promotional fan trailer “If Stranger Things was an 80s Anime”, is a labour of love by animation company Fates. Fates has been in the field for years now, producing all manner of animations for a wide variety of sources: games, corporations, soft drinks, and sports. There’s a chance you saw their work on TV without even realising it.

Now that the video has been released, Bleeding Cool spoke to Fates’ Jesse Norton to ask him how they went about producing it.

What made you think a “Stranger Things” anime trailer was something pop culture needed?

“The team at Octopie suggested that we come up with a fan inspired video centered around Stranger Things. We thought about parodying it at first, as the show basically mainlines nostalgia into veins via your eye sockets. Then the idea came to create a “best of” moments of the show, and make it feel like an anime intro.

We liked that idea, as even though ST draws influence from all sorts of pop culture, it really is a transformative work of it’s own, and does some fantastic storytelling with tropes we all love. So the idea to make a transformative animation seemed natural. I’m hoping we kick off a “what if it were animated” series for Octopie with this as the pilot.”

“Stranger Things”: Animators at Fates Reveal How They Made that 80s Anime Fan Trailer
Fates

How long did this take to build? 

“Several months. Walker & Li helped build strong team and really had some fantastic talent step up and deliver some amazing shots. I’m really proud of the team putting in the absurd amount of effort to make these damn things move. We were all on the same page from the beginning so startup went pretty smooth, and as always, just a little bit of crunch (like thousands of work hours) to get this shipped in time for the Season 3 release. Please print the staff list so the efforts of the bad-asses can be recognized!”

“Stranger Things”: Animators at Fates Reveal How They Made that 80s Anime Fan Trailer
Fates

There seems to be some controversy, in that this doesn’t exactly look like a real 1980’s anime…

“I guess not. Too much resolution to start… but who the hell wants to watch anything 720×480 anymore? And while we still have a ton of acetate cels leftover from our humble beginnings, we long ago donated our 35mm Forox cameras and backlight systems to schools. In order to get real analogue bleed, and that perfect kiss of chromatic aberration, you’ve got to build it on film. So with a digital process… yeah it’s going to look digital.

“Stranger Things”: Animators at Fates Reveal How They Made that 80s Anime Fan Trailer
Fates

We did what we could to capture a feeling seeped in nostalgia… and no not every person on staff is Japanese. In fact we have a several half Japanese people on staff, so maybe that’s the problem? Heh, no even in ‘pure’ anime production from Japan, nearly always Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, and even American studios get outsourced to. It’s a global world where studios swap talent constantly. So maybe it’s time we get past … guess the internet still says ‘no.’

Shit like this is why we made the show Joe Is Japanese.”

Fates

Any words of advice for budding animators?

“My first mentor Chuck Jones always had the best saying, ‘we can train an artist to be an animator, but we can’t teach someone to be an artist.’ So build your core skill set. Be able to be a generalist to an extent, and be able to see pieces through to completion. Then begin to hone into the skills of an animator. Get the 12 principles of animation fully ingrained in your skull or tattooed on your chest. End of the day animation is all illusion, so practice the skills of magic…”