PART II: AKIRA Composition/Cinematography/Color Combinations

Continuing with our epic series on AKIRA (see PART I of AKIRA if you missed out):

1. Flickering lights

Study the flickering lights (on and off) in AKIRA:

## 2. Blade runner

Blade Runner (and almost all dystopic film) probably got inspiration from AKIRA in one way or another:

Note how beautiful this urban landscape is. Great proportions and composition. Here are some of the major shapes I see: ## 3. The future and entertainment

Unfortunately in the future, we are all just distracted by mindless entertainment:

## 4. Layers and Depth

Great opening scene, note the layers and depth in this shot:

See the depth, and composition: Everything is perfectly sectioned-off. Note the couple on the left, the man in the top-right, the man on the top-left, the red pillar dividing the frame, the green foilage (juxtaposed against the red pillar), and our protagonist in the center-top of the frame.

5. Detail shot

I love this next detail shot— shot from up looking down. Note the simplicity of the shot, the colors, the lights, and the details on just the hands:

The old-school jukebox of the future: ## 6. TRON

See the inspiration that AKIRA (and the cool bikes) get from TRON.

Note the light trails:

Scenes from the old-school tron: Scenes from the new (2010) TRON: Learning point: there is no ‘originality’ in any cinema, film, or art. There are always borrowed ideas. It is just a matter of re-interpretation. Or how you can remix it in a novel way.

The famous motorcycle from AKIRA:

Now take a look at a TRON BIKE and see how similar they look:

7. The city

Vision of the city, juxtaposed against the classic film “METROPOLIS (1927)

Here is the scene from AKIRA:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography49.jpg

Here is the scene from 1927 Metropolis:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography53.jpgConsider the original Futuristic-Dystopia film: “Metropolis”, setting the stage for all futuristic film.

More beautiful scenes from AKIRA– note how sometimes you are confused, you don’t know which way is up:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography127AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography132

My favorite scene, of them racing through the city– it looks like a reflection of the city (upside down):

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography133

Even these surreal post-apocolytic views. Note the ‘WASHINGTON’ tires advertisement:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography135.jpg

8. Crimson/magenta mood

I love the color scheme in this scene:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography183.jpg

Note the composition here. You have the kid looking at his own reflection in the mirror. But also note the color scheme: the crimson red on the left, juxtaposed against the pink magenta on the right:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography185.jpg

With Gaussian blur:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography185-color.jpg

Now with some colors.

Pretty sloppy, but you can see the crimson red tone in the left side of the frame. And the brown/red tones in the far left. But on the far right, you have a purple/magenta scheme– which glows:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography185-color copy-color-scheme.jpg

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography185.jpg

9. Body healing pod

One of the best sci-fi visions, of a body being examined. Kanye West was really inspired by AKIRA, as you can see in his ‘STRONGER’ music video:

I remember when I recently saw this, it is the same from AKIRA:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography228AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography229Note the lovely jade-green color scheme, against the pale green: AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography230AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography231AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography232AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography233AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography234AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography235You think of other modern films, like ELYSIUM, with this future medical pod to heal all your sicknesses:

Or you can just get a fashionable pod to stay forever young:

Or in PASSENGERS (movie) with the ‘hibernation pods’:


Just a moral thing to consider: what if we lived in a world where we cured ourselves of all diseases in these little pods? We still die (at age 120) of natural causes. But no longer dying of diseases. How would that change humanity?

10. Dystopic school

What do we do when there is no longer any social order– and kids are just running amok in schools, with teachers who don’t care, or administrators who don’t care?

I like this shot, from the side, with the layers and depth:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography254.jpg

Then note this next scene, shot from inside looking out:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography255.jpg

A classroom of the future:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography256.jpgHow do the administrators feel?

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography257AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography258AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography259AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography260Essentially, the schools and administrators are indifferent.

Graffiti all over the place:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography261.jpgThis next scene is phenomenal — see the composition here:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography264.jpg

With the Gaussian blur, to better see the lines, geometry, and colors:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography264 copy-side.jpgAbstracted:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography264 copy-drawings-color-scheme.jpg

With even more blur, to better see the color combinations and composition:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography264 copy-abstracted-color.jpgEven more abstracted– you can use the Eyedropper tool in Photoshop to find the colors:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography264 copy-abstracted-color-very-abstract.jpg

Lesson: try innovative color schemes. Here, I am drawn to the color-combination of the bright orange-red on the far right, against the purple. And in the foreground, that bronze color. And the top of the frame, a turquoise color.

As a photographer or film maker, you can use artificial ‘gel-colored’ lights to create this effect. Or if you make film, you can create your own sets, and color them however you’d like.

11. Dutch angle

Dutch angle is basically tilting the camera, to make a more dramatic, dynamic, uneasy, and edgy.

They use it a lot in film, but you can also do it in photography (just by tilting your camera/horizon).

Note this shot:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography275.jpg

See all the diagonal lines, and also the lovely color palette: the watermelon-green walls, and the red on the right of the frame, and the blue of the doors.

See the leading lines here:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography275 copy-leading-lines.jpg

Then see the colors:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography275 copy-abstract-colorcombo.jpg

The next scene, with the green background, tilted horizon, and the purple door:

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography277.jpg

Lesson: Tilt your camera for more dramatic scenes (dutch angle).


AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography279.jpg

When you watch an anime or hand-drawn, or 3d film, or anything not ‘real’ — just think of the camera angles.

AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography280.jpg

Consider what lenses they will use for which scene. Consider how the scenes cut from one moment to the other.

And think these questions:

  • When does the camera look down, versus looking up?
  • When does the camera zoom in, or zoom out?
  • What lens or perspective is the lens (wide, medium, telephoto)– or 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, or 200mm?
  • Think of the light– how you can create depth through different shades of color.
  • Also consider color-combinations.

Part III of our analysis of AKIRA to be continued…

See AKIRA PARTI if you missed out.


AKIRA Screenshot Movie Composition Cinematography171 copy-color-combinations copy-side-by-side

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