Emru Townsend: So what was a typical day like for you, in a given production? Or was there such a thing as a typical day?
Catherine Winder: The Japanese animators often worked odd hours, so they'd come in later on in the day, and then often some of the production staff and the animators would stay overnight and sleep on the floor. So I would get there early, because there would be all the faxes from the United States. So I would show up, often be the first person in there, turn on the lights, walk over a couple of bodies, go and get the faxes, and start handling some of the problems and issues. I would need to get in early too, because in my morning the American studio was still working. It was the afternoon over in the States, so I'd also take phone calls, so I'd be available to start working on different problems and issues. And what I really spent a lot of time doing was working in the postproduction retake side of things. When the Americans would have retakes--there were often cultural issues: jokes, and content, and acting, and they would write out their retake notes, and the Japanese wouldn't quite grasp what the American producer was trying to say, so I'd often talk to the producer. Then I'd sit down with the Japanese director, and we'd look at the film, we'd go through all the different retakes and try and work it out so that we could correct the retake properly.
Right, so retakes were, say, timing problems, or whatever else.
Yeah, there'd be timing problems, or just technical problems, you know, terminologies were different as well. So just trying to understand what each person was trying to say to each other. So it was really great for me, because I technically I learned tons. And culturally, from both perspectives, I learned what people found funny and not funny, and where miscommunications really messed up the film. It was a really great job.
It's amazing, because the classic problem people think of in this sort of thing is misspelled English words, and that's about the worst of it. But of course there's a lot more going on behind the scenes.
Oh, there's a lot going on. There's a lot of misunderstanding. And everyone has the best of intentions. They're on the same team, they want to get the best film possible done, but it's very hard to communicate between the two cultures. Not only the Japanese and the Americans, but the Koreans, the Taiwanese, the Filipinos. It's very, very hard, and I really learned how they feel when things are written and how it comes off. Part of my job was to stand up for them, and part of my job was to stand up for the Americans too, because it could get kind of confusing and messy. It's very complex over there.