Crunchyroll + Aquifer

Crunchyroll partners with Aquifer for the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards

Crunchyroll partners with Aquifer for the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards

Aquifer’s platform significantly lowered the cost and time of creating animated scenes for the awards show, which was viewed by over 1 million fans.


The Client

Crunchyroll is the world’s most popular anime brand. With fans in over 200 countries, Crunchyroll powers the largest collection of licensed anime content, on-demand content, and simulcasts, with licensing that extends from broadcast, video and consumer products.

The Challenge

Scaling high-quality animation creation with an in-house production team

Crunchyroll’s in-house production team manages their YouTube channel, media projects from documentaries to podcasts, and global events, like their annual global Crunchyroll Anime Awards broadcast which garnered over 11 million votes in 2020. 

Previously, the Crunchyroll team used external animation studios to create videos and stories featuring Crunchyroll-Hime, the brand's mascot, and Tim, Crunchyroll's  host. With a talented team skilled in production, voice acting, editing, storyboarding, they decided to bring animated content production in-house to save time, reduce production costs, and have more control in the creative process. 

The Crunchyroll Anime Awards presented a unique challenge for Senior Producer Jesse Gouldsbury and the Crunchyroll team. This marked the first time they approached a complete end-to-end 3D animation production in-house, and the timeline was extremely fast, just a few weeks. And with the new reality of COVID19 lockdowns and remote work, it was clear to Gouldsbury; they were going to need to get creative.

The team realized they needed an easy way to quickly bring together voice acting, motion capture, virtual scenes, characters, and creative direction, with a remote team spread across North America and beyond. For this, Gouldsbury tapped Aquifer for their remote-enabled cinematic animation platform.

The Aquifer team lended their sensibilities for production details, from cinematography, production design, and lighting. Combined with their novel technology, they were able to shorten the time between a first draft and a final cut.

The Solution

Enabling seamless production with a new way to create

The show's production had a lightning fast timeline, but Crunchyroll, as the leading anime brand, needed to meet their extremely high quality bar for the event. This is where Aquifer’s in-house technology came in; they were able to go from script to first cut in about a week.

Using the Aquifer platform, the Crunchyroll team avoided technically complex creation steps, and focused on the narrative and story. The team has a really strong vision for the visual aesthetic for the scenes and a final script for the banter between Hime and Tim. Aquifer allowed them to own the vision and creation process, especially since work-in-progress cuts were rendered in near-final quality. This led to an end result that reflected the vision and had a lot more of the organic humor that comes from improvisation.

In such a rapid production, Aquifer’s parallel pipeline accommodates for quick script changes without delaying schedules. 

Aquifer’s creator team augmented areas of production expertise, from cinematography, 3d render styles, to production design and more.  That, combined with the Aquifer Flow technology, allowed Crunchyroll to realize a cinematic result in a lightning-fast time frame. The source video was rendered in a cinematic 24 FPS, and in 4k resolution.

The Crunchyroll team also wielded the complete Aquifer ecosystem to realize totally new capabilities:  The app captures facial and VO performances, which are synced via the cloud and then integrated into shots in Aquifer Flow, with final videos created via the renderer in the cloud.  Using this pipeline the Crunchyroll team was able to create quick-turn videos in-house.  The platform allowed the narrative to extend beyond the awards event, unlocking capabilities for social promotion and engagement before and after the event. 

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The Takeaway

Giving all teams the ability to create original, studio-quality animated content

Aquifer's platform enabled Crunchyroll to rapidly scale internal production and level-up content and engagement across teams. For example, alongside the team’s Crunchyroll Anime Awards production, Crunchyroll’s brand and social teams used Aquifer to create and post engaging animated videos featuring animated Hime. These teams were able to achieve the same look and render quality as a professional animation studio team in a fraction of time.

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