Mina Moteki

Mina Moteki is an animator for a studio that was approached by Square Enix for a few of their Final Fantasy productions. Mina is one of the few women in the animation field and we are so lucky we were able to track her down for an interview! Mina, thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you!
For more info on Mina Moteki click here for her website or click here for her linkedin page.
When Square Enix approached you, what was your reaction?
When I heard from my producer that I was going to work on FF15 at Square Enix I got really excited. Also, there was a kind of pressure to prove my best in the big creative team but once I started working I forgot that, as it was really fun.
My dad used to play FF when i was around 10 years old, while working on the game i felt like to go back in time and tell myself, that you will work on this game one day.
When you started as an animator, what were some of the hardships you faced, especially as a female?
The very first Studio where I started working had very long hours work system, just like any other typical Japanese workplace. There the senior used to judge passion based on the time we leave work. One day I left at 9 pm and next day i got the scolding because others were still working. Some of the people in studio used to stay overnight or few days without any breaks. So they demanded same from me. It was a bit of shock to me since I joined animation thinking it’s a creative field and environment must be pretty chilled out. But I end up working same as others, from very next day. It’s ok for occasionally but being a female, sometimes it’s not easy as once a month we have emotional and physical difficulties, But I kept ignoring my personal life day by day and worked hard enough to win the trust of my seniors.
Now when I look back, I don’t think I can do the same today. But all this being said, I was also bit stubborn back then, so I did everything I could to become a better animator.
What are your strong suits in animating, and also some of your non-strong suits?
I like every aspect of animation, but my strong suit would be definitely facial animation. I find myself lost in time when I do facial animation. Facial expression is the most important element of any animation shot, as audience follows the eyes of the character. So, it should look believable all the time. Working on all small things like, eye blinks, eyebrows movement, lip movement etc etc. We almost become the character in order to bring them to life.
Some of my Non-Strong suits would be action animation and quadruped animal animation. I am still learning so much every day, if its a motion-capture its fine but if it’s a key animation action shot, it gives me nightmares sometimes. I have to practice hard and learn from others to become confident.
Did you find the animating of FFXIV challenging in a way you haven’t experienced before?
Absolutely. It became more challenging for me thinking about the history of Final Fantasy. and the fan base it has all over the world. They have so many games and projects already been done in past, so we had to keep up the quality even better than last time. So, the feeling of disappointing the fans was a bit of a challenge… Technically actual animation was not that challenging as the production was well planned and studio was well equipped with everything we needed.
What type of programs do you use for your animation, and do you have skills that you use in combination to animate?
We mostly use Autodesk Maya for animation but at times there were some motion capture data. So, we used to work in the combination of Motion Builder and Maya.
How did you become an animator, what was the pivotal point that jump-started your career?
When I was studying in USA as an exchange student, it occured to me one day that u want to be in film industry using my English skills. So, I started my research. And I found that animation would be the best platform for me to be involved since I can work on films and tv series and be the part of so many characters and voices. After coming back from USA, I joined animation school, and as I anticipated, I actually started loving animation so much since then.
After finishing the school, I got an internship in a small studio and then a proper job as an Animator in another studio and since then I never looked back and never got bored. I am really happy that I have this job.
Its noted that Square Enix contacted and collaborated with over 50 studios to animate a variety of their FFXIV project! How does it feel to know that you are creating something for such a large franchise and business?
It’s a great feeling to be the part of such a large team and it’s amazing to know that so many studios worked on it and how famous this have become now.
Do you think that animating has been a field a lot more women have been looking at to get in to as their main career choice over the years?
I am not sure if it has been or not, but certainly I wish it should be. I still feel there are less female animators in Japan, but this is maybe just because it is not well-known job here. I believe that the number of female animators will be increased if the environment gets better like flexible working hours for those who have kids.
What was your favorite aspect of animating for FFXIV?
My favourite part was to animate all those final fantasy characters which I used to see in the games before. It felt great that I can move and control them as I want to. So just animating all those beautiful characters was definitely my favorite part.
Will we be seeing your name as an animator for more big-name productions?
I hope so, I also worked on Kingsglaive from FF15, and Gantz: O this year. 2016 was good for films. I am hoping best for the future, I will keep my hard work and rest will follow.