Syd Mead - "Mead Gundam"

Jun 26th, 2015
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  1. These are comments by Syd Mead from the last few pages of "Mead Gundam", a 300+ page Turn A Gundam art book featuring concept sketched drawings.
  3. TL/edit: Mia U./Feez
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  9. My first encounter with the talented Sunrise staff was in Tokyo on July 30th 1998 .
  10. An incredible woman was working with me then- her name is Mieko Ishikawa. She was a bridge for me in terms of business negotiations and understanding the Japanese culture. The two of us headed out from the hotel I was staying at in Akasaka towards the Sunrise office, to their studio in the Suginami districts. It was a cloudy day, and throughout the day it rained from time to time. Even then, the Sunrise conference room that day was overflowing with creativity and cutting edge ideas- so much so that the entire room seemed to be glowing gold. We introduced ourselves in the room.
  11. We - the original writer of Turn A Gundam and eventually the director, Mr. Yoshiyuki Tomino, his crew of young men and women, and I - exchanged our thoughts on the creative processes and the video footages. Thanks to the enormous help and interpretation of Mieko, I believe that we were all able to learn a valuable lesson on the cooperative process of communicating creativity. Within 4 hours, the creators, designers, animators, model makers, technicians, all different types of artists, had collaborated and come together as one unit, to give birth to a completely new, completely novel anime series.
  12. To this day, I look back on this moment fondly, when technicality and the ideas attached can be shared, and communication is vibrant. It is such an exhilarating feeling, that I am always surprised and thrilled when all aspects of a project team can have passionate, intelligent people, with talent, and a willingness to stay up all hours in order to create something of worth. In other words, this happens when you have a group of people working together who have nothing but the desire to “try” and “do” things that may seem impossible.
  13. Every new trial requires courage for it to happen, especially when it’s always followed a sort of routine, or “tradition”. Let me list the names of the people whom I’ll never stop praising.
  14. They are: the writer and director of Turn A Gundam, Mr. Yoshiyuki Tomino; the mechanical design coordinator, Mr. Shigeru Horiguchi; and the anime style coordinator, Mr. Atsushi Shigeta. Mr. Shigeta is responsible for taking my sketches and scribbles from pen, and turning them into master drawings, that were eventually used in advertising the anime.
  15. Thank you also to Mr. Shigeru Morita (from Studio Nue), who is famous today for the popularized art style of modern day anime. An applaud to Bandai’s 3D modeler, Mr. Katsuo Kawaguchi, who could watch any 2D footage and create dynamic 3D models of the characters seen. And Ms. Tetsuko Takahashi knows no limits- she tirelessly arranged for my Sunrise visit, and organized for my personal use all of the saved records from previous episode draftings. Ms. Rie Akutsu, who worked with us, shines today as the assistant of Mr. Horiguchi. A thank you to Ms. Kaoru Asai who managed the PR and its schedules. There are so many other animators, designers and artists who led the Turn A Gundam series to its success.
  16. I’d also like to mention the people who weren’t necessarily a part of Turn A Gundam, but who allowed my work to be a part of this traditional art form called anime.
  17. The president of the Sunrise Company, Mr. Takayuki Yoshii, welcomed me so warmly upon my arrival in Tokyo. Mr. Masuo Ueda (production), managed and worked so meticulously and accurately for the same Gundam project, with infinite patience. Mr. Katsushi Murakami, the president of MegaHouse Productions, opened my eyes to the bewildering and mystifying history of robot anime characters in Japan. Mr. Kouichi Inoue (G-Saviour producer) became my Gundam mentor. He guided me and gave such good criticisms, that my understanding of Gundam would be nothing without him.
  18. The success of Turn A Gundam would not be so great, if it were not for Mr. Akira Yasuda from Osaka’s Capcom. I want to show my respect to him, for his character designs of the Turn A Gundam characters.
  19. My Gundam mobile suits experience would not have been complete, without the existence of Mr. Kunio Okawara. For more than 20 years, he has been behind the Gundam mobile suits movement. As a successful designer, not only does he strive to get every last detail of shapes and forms down, but he also makes charismatic story developments and wonderful designs to become a reality. I want to appreciate what he’s given to the Gundam community, the incredible treasures he’s left for us. Due to all that he’s built, I am able to continue my input into the Turn A Gundam robot character designs.
  20. I can only wish the best and truly admire the works and talents of the people I’ve listed and many others. I also pray that Turn A Gundam remains a popular anime series, and one that can take anime art in the future to the next level.
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  26. When I received the offer to work on the new Gundam project, I flew to Japan, met Mr. Tomino and the other Sunrise/ Bandai staff. I gained the insight and input of Mr. Tomino himself, regarding the story, the ideas surrounding the series, and the mobile suit designs for this new project. I met with Mr. Tomino, his wife, and his daughter at a private restaurant in Izu, and dined on Kaiseki-ryouri (a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner).
  27. For the past twenty years, I’ve met with the mobile suits designer in his home/ studio in Tokyo. My job was to create the new Gundam mobile suit, that was “zero-based” and completely fresh- one that would be accepted globally by anime fans, and even by the harsh Japanese, despite being almost unrecognizable. It was an incredible honor to be asked to practically redesign the story and characters of the most notorious series worldwide in anime. With the help of Mr. Inoue and the talented Sunrise/ Bandai staff, I was able to complete the designs of 7 sets for the Turn A series.
  28. Mr. Horiguchi from Sunrise was my window to the Japanese side of studio design. The series aired and received very high reviews. My involvement with the Sunrise/ Turn A groups was an incredibly enjoyable time in my life. As a professional, I was constantly on edge and excited. Within the Japanese culture, my life and meaning of living was heightened.
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  34. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 11, 1933.
  35. Since a very young age, Mead showed great promise in artistic abilities. During his high school career, he worked hard on improving his illustrating techniques, and upon graduation, began working as an animator for a movie production in Colorado Springs. He served a short military service and then enrolled in the Art Center School in Los Angeles (now the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena). He was granted a full scholarship from Ford Motors, and studied industrial design. Graduating top of his class, he began his career in 1959 at Ford Motors, and continued onto multiple automobile design projects. 2 years later, he started working at U.S. Steel, and published a number of industrial design catalogs with futuristic works of art, using steel and metals as a primary medium. He received national praise as an important designer and revolutionary for future designs and in 1970, started his own company in Detroit. His company would receive consulting work and contracts globally, from American Motors, Chrysler, Volvo, Honda, Phillips, etc. He would also take on various high profile projects, such as the interior design of the Concorde, the High Speed Rail, the Sky Lab interior design for NASA, and multiple other architecture-related jobs. His illustrations are featured in the National Geographic, Playboy, and other magazines. In 1975, Syd Mead moved his work-base to Los Angeles, and ventured into the world of cinema with Paramount’s “Star Trek”. Originally Mead was only supposed to complete the design for a futuristic car in “Blade Runner,” but after multiple offers from the director Ridley Scott, Mead became the concept designer for the entire film. He gains the title “visual futurist,” to inspire great influence to the world. Today, Mead even works on designing amusement parks, such as the Space World in northern Kyushu, the Sanrio Puroland, and the Reoma World. He’s also a designing consultant for computer games and software.
  37. Syd Mead’s webpage:
  40. Collections
  41. “Sentinel” (1979/ Dragon’s Dream/ London)
  42. “OBLAGON” (1985/ Kodansha)
  43. “SYD MEAD TECHNO FANTASY ART” (1985/ Kodansha)
  44. “Sentinel II” (1987/ Kodansha)
  45. “STUDIO image” (1988/ OBLAGON. Inc./ Los Angeles)
  46. “STUDIO image 2” (1989/ OBLAGON. Inc./ Los Angeles)
  47. “kronolog” (1991/ Bandai)
  48. “kronolog ii (CD-ROM edition)” (1993/ Bandai)
  49. “STUDIO image 3” (1994/ OBLAGON. Inc./ Los Angeles)
  50. “Sentury” (2000/ OBLAGON. Inc./ Los Angeles)
  52. Films
  53. “Star Trek” (1979/ Robert Wise dir.)
  54. “Blade Runner” (1982/ Ridley Scott dir.)
  55. “Tron” (1982/ Steven Lisberger dir.)
  56. “2010” (1984/ Peter Hyams dir.)
  57. “Short Circuit” (1986/ John Badham dir.)
  58. “Aliens” (1986/ James Cameron dir.)
  59. “Solar Crisis” (1990/ Richard C. Sarafian dir.)
  60. “Mission to Mars” (2000/ Brian De Palma dir.)
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