For the many Final Fantasy fans around the world, Square's own Hironobu Sakaguchi is ever inspiring and ever praised for his work with the popular RPG series. Recently, GameSpy had conducted a roundtable Q&A with Hironobu Sakaguchi (Director), Motonori Sakakibara (Co - Director), Jun Aida (Producer), Chris Lee (Producer), Andy Jones (Animation Director), Donald Sutherland (VO: Dr. Sid), Ming-Na Wen (VO: Dr. Aki Ross), and Peri Gilpin (VO: Jane Proudfoot) about Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
The questions ranged from technical to artistic. There were also questions that threw the movie back to the games themselves. Sakaguchi explained the tools being used for the movie and the games were essentially the same. The movie's theme was also a combination of the themes used for Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX. Consequently because it is a movie and not a game, traditional camera angles were used rather than the ones used in the games. Sakakibara also expressed difficulty in keeping up a high level of detail over 90+ hours.
Questions asked to the actors were kept to the movie since all of them expressed they had no experience with the games. Recording times for the movie varied from actor to actor as Donald Sutherland managed to finish the voiceovers in two days while Peri Gilpin started recording two years ago due to six month waits between sessions. She also expressed her delight in being Jane Proudfoot and would have done it live action. Ming-Na Wen like Gilpin, also expressed her delight in her role as Aki Ross. Being a "Science Fiction nut," Ming-Na said that she had become very popular with her Science Fiction friends as a result of this career move.
For Animation Director Andy Jones, he stated that the movie's artistic influences and style of animation came from an anime movie called Ghost in the Shell. For creating the ethereal phantoms, he said that Sakaguchi and Sakakibara both had a great deal of involvement in animating them. Underwater sea life was also used as a reference.
For Producers Jun Aida and Chris Lee, they explained a lot about the inner workings of the movie. Specifically, they explained how the project was started. Lee recalls meeting Aida while working at TriStar. Jun Aida who also produced the Street Fighter movie, gave him a twelve page summary and proposed to take the game to the big screen. For the role of Aki Ross, Lee and Aida decided on Ming-Na Wen because of Aki Ross's ethnic background and that Wen is the "most talented" Asian Hollywood actress. She was also chosen because of the large amount of Asians working on the production team and Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted at least one Asian actor to work with. The last question for Aida and Lee was what inspired them in creating how the characters looked. They said that in making sure it was an emulation of a movie star as opposed to a character actor, they talked about the backgrounds of the characters. Questions pondered about each character pertained to their interests in these discussions. In addition, they also leaked that they would be working on another Hironobu Sakaguchi produced movie though it will not be a sequel to The Spirits Within. Lastly, they also discussed the crossover of Final Fantasy Movie characters in other productions (specifically Aki Ross), and despite the photorealism of the movie; the purpose of it is to tell the tale. For international distribution, Jun Aida stated that there will be nothing special done.
For the full interview, visit GameSpy Daily. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is scheduled for a North America release on June 11, 2001.