Throughout the course of the franchise the main production staff and their roles have remained relatively unchanged, even as the franchise’s animation production continues to shift to the use of more digital technologies and methods. These main production staff positions are listed below and have been divided up by the various stages of the production process: series development and planning, pre-production, production, and post-production. Each position’s listing provides a detailed explanation of its role and responsibilities, as well as discussing its interaction with other positions and production departments. Supplemental notes have also been included throughout to convey special details or slight changes in responsibilities possibly related to a specific production (movies, specials, etc).
As with the entire Animation Production Guide, please note that the roles and responsibilities of these positions may differ at other animation studios and are only applicable to their role at Toei Animation.
The following chart illustrates the hierarchy of the main animation staff listed on this page, as divided up by production department, but does not represent the work path of the animation production process. Note that minor roles (assistants to main staff), and general roles (public relations, documentation, etc.) have not been included in this chart.
Series Development & Planning
The development stage is the initial step in creating an animated series, and in essence is the business stage of the production process. In this stage the concept of the series is presented to executives and producers from various companies in the form of a proposal. Many factors are considered before a series’ production is approved, such as budget, profitability, and marketability. Once a series has been approved for production, the series’ main production staff are identified and the pre-production process can begin.
The term gensaku (原作) refers to the “original work” and is used to credit the source material, including both the original author and the magazine and/or publisher the work is available. In every Dragon Ball property this generic credit is given to Akira Toriyama, author of the original manga series for which the franchise is based on. This credit does not indicate that the original author actually had significant involvement with the series’ production, as it is merely acknowledging that the series is based on the original work of the author.
The main companies responsible for the production of the animated series are given a “production” credit. These companies are typically copyright holders and provide funding and conceptual input for the series being produced. Often times a “Production Coordination” (制作協力) credit will also be provided, indicating the senior production company supervising the series’ overall production.
The series planners are executives from the series’ main production companies, including Toei and Fuji TV. On occasion, producers from other companies do hold this position, in which case their affiliation is specifically noted. Planners are responsible for developing the main plan for adapting the original work’s story into an animated production. They often select which parts of the story to adapt, select the main production staff (such as series director, series composer, art designer, production manager, etc.), and develop a strategic plan before beginning the production process.
A “Planning Cooperation” (企画協力) credit is sometimes provided to denote the editorial department of the publisher where the original work’s story is being serialized.
The series producers work directly for the planning and production companies, such as the broadcasting company Fuji TV, the animation studio Toei Animation, or various consulting advertising companies. Producers are involved in the planning stages of production and provide input from their respective company throughout the series’ production. It is their job to relay how their companies feel the series should look and feel from a marketability standpoint, along with ensuring their business interests are being met.
The public relations staff is responsible for managing the flow of information from Fuji TV and Toei Animation to the public. They are in charge of the series publicity and advertising, along with providing the producers with feedback from the public. The majority of the franchise’s publicity has been handled by Fuji TV’s public relations staff, which is noted in the episode credits.
This is the stage in which all the planning for an episode takes place and its story and plot are developed. During pre-production, the episode is broken down into individual scenes and all the story elements, locations, and characters, are identified. The episode’s script, if not already complete, is written at this stage. A detailed schedule is produced and arrangements are made for the necessary production staff to be available to the directors at the appropriate times. A supervising staff member from each production department is represented in this stage, typically overseeing their respective department throughout the series’ entire production.
The series composer is responsible for determining the overall plot of the series. Many meetings are held with the director, original author, and planning production staff from Toei Animation and Fuji TV to chart the direction and feel they would like the animated adaptation to take. Following this, the composer will draft an overview plot of the series. When the overall series plot is finalized, the series composer will break the overall plot up into single episodes and tasks the script writers, which often includes themselves as well, with writing scripts for each episode. If the production is based on a manga serialization, the series composer oversees the creation of filler stories to ensure that the original author has plenty of time to develop more original material, which will later be incorporated into the animated adaptation.
A script writer is responsible for the script of a specific episode, most notably including the character and narration dialogue. These writers are supervised by the series composer and director to ensure that the episode’s script fits within the overall scope of the series plot. An episode’s script is often revised numerous times before it is finalized and handed over to the episode director to begin work on the animation process. In most long-running series productions, such as Dragon Ball, script writers are often given very little creative control over their own scripts.
The series director is responsible for the overall look and feel of the entire series, overseeing almost every aspect of the production process, including attending voice recording sessions, and are heavily involved in the pre-production process. Almost all aspects of production must meet their approval before moving forward. They are also responsible for assisting in the creation of storyboards with the episode director.
The series director will in some cases be credited in a film as the “supervising director” (監修; kanshū). The supervising director merely provides overall creative supervision of the film and leaves the day-to-day direction tasks to the film’s director.
The term ekonte (絵コンテ) is a combination of the Japanese words for “picture” and “continuity board”, but is typically referred to using the generic English animation term “storyboard”. Storyboards are sequential drawings detailing the major scenes of the series and include information about dialogue, music, camera work. They serve as a basis for the animators to create their layouts and key drawings. Individual episode directors draw their own storyboards, which act as the visual script for the episode, under the guidance of the series director. The use of a separate storyboard artist credit does occur when the episode director is strapped for time, or otherwise a bad artist, and cannot create a storyboard themselves.
The general term enshutsu
) refers to anyone who provides direction to effectively portray something, and has been carried over to animation and film production from stage theater. The most common translation, “episode director”, is used to accurately summarize their position in relation to the episode they are credited on, whereas in relation to a movie or theatrical film it may be translated as “film director”.
The more specific kantoku (監督) credit is typically used for theatrical film and/or special feature (i.e. TV specials, festival features, video games, etc.) productions in place of the more generic enshutsu (演出) credit used in episodic productions.
The episode director is an extension of the series director and is responsible for supervising the production of a single episode. They are the go-between for the series director and an episode’s production staff. They are responsible for checking and supervising the episode throughout its production, from initial story to the final released product, and in some cases can have almost total control over the episode. The episode director typically draws the storyboards, checks the animation drawings as they are being worked on, sets up each scene before it goes to photography, supervises the music selection, is present during voice recordings, and oversees all of the editing, among many other jobs.
The character designer is responsible for creating detailed animation character designs to be used as reference by animators during the production stage and is often also the series’ supervising director of animation. The character designer will often work closely with the series director and art designer to establish the overall look of the series’ characters. In an animated adaptation of a manga series, the character designer will also often consult and receive input from the series’ original author in reference to existing and new original characters. While the art designer may provide visual input for the character designs, such as their clothing, items, or auras, the character designer ultimately determines how to actually animate the character and represent them in motion. The character designer creates model sheets for each version, or look (i.e. Normal Son Goku, Super Saiyan Son Goku, etc.), of a character. These model sheets provide varying perspectives of the character, including different facial expressions, gestures, and poses, and are intended to establish a standardized appearance for each animated character.
This task was previously incorporated into the “Chief Animator” (チーフアニメーター) position in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, as was the norm in the industry at the time, but has since been split off as a separate credited role.
When a series’ animation character designs are based on drawings provided by someone other than the character designer, that individual is credited with providing the rough character drafts. In the Dragon Ball franchise, this credit is exclusively given to original author Akira Toriyama.
作画監修Supervising Director of Animation
This animation position is in charge of all aspects of the animation side of the series’ production and often serves as its character designer. Unlike the chief animation supervisor or animation supervisor, who check and correct the key animation for a specific episode or scene, the supervising director of animation is responsible for checking and approving all of the series’ animation. The supervising director of animation serves as the final animation check, and beyond this point no more corrections to the animation will be made.
This role was previously credited as the “Chief Animator” (チーフアニメーター) in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, as was the norm in the industry at the time, but has since been split off as a separate credited role. In Dragon Ball GT, the character designer also performed the role of supervising director of animation and oversaw all aspects of the series’ animation even though they were not explicitly credited as doing so.
The art designer supervises all aspects of the art department, develops the overall visual look of the production, and is typically held by the senior-most art director. They are responsible for creating detailed designs of locations, items/objects, vehicles, and characters based on extensive pre-production meetings with the series directors, planners, and producers. These design drawings will be used as references by not only the art department, but also the animation department, as the key animators utilize the design drawings to help establish their layouts and determine the backgrounds required for that given scene. The art designer will assemble the design drawings into a “set pack” and distribute copies to the other production departments. The “set pack” is constantly updated throughout the series’ production, as new locations, items, and characters are introduced.
This role was previously credited as the “Chief Designer” (チーフデザイナー) in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, as was the norm in the industry at the time. The title change merely represents a shift in verbiage, as both positions have identical roles and responsibilities. In some instances the position is credited under the traditional title, 美術設定 (bijutsu settei), with “design” being written in kanji as opposed to the more modern use of the transliteration of the English word “design” in katakana (デザイン).
色彩設定・色彩設計Color Setting / Color Design
The color designer is responsible for setting the main color palette to be used by the finishing department to color completed animation. The color palette is developed to reflect the series director’s vision for the visual appearance of the series. Prior to the use of digital coloring techniques using specified RGB color codes
that are consistent between computers, the color palette was established using physical swabs of paint that could vary from studio to studio.
This task was originally performed by the chief designer, but has since been split off as a separate credited role. The “Color Design” role was first credited in Dragon Ball GT.
This is the stage at which all of the animation is produced based on the plan and schedule developed in the pre-production stage. Prior to an episode’s actual production, the series director holds an animation meeting with the episode’s assigned production staff (episode director, assistant director, assistant production manager, animation supervisor, and art director) to ensure that nothing has been missed and to establish a production schedule. During these meetings, the animation supervisor and main artwork staff (art director and key animators) use the storyboards to check the overall feel of the episode, including the positions of the characters, angles, light direction, shadows, etc. This is where the strength of the pre-production work is put to the test. Scenes are also divided up among the key animators and layouts of these scenes are decided upon. For a more in-depth look at the animation production process, please read our guide on the Animation Process.
The production manager is responsible for the management of all processes, procedures, and deliverables of a production. They often work closely with the animation supervisor or chief animation supervisor to ensure that everything is on schedule, staying within budget, and that production milestones are met. Often times they will create and maintain the master production schedule, in particular as it relates to animation. The production manager does not have any direct responsibilities with the creative direction of the series, but merely manages its production.
製作進行Assistant Production Manager
This staff member works directly under the production manager and assists them in managing the day-to-day operations of the production. With multiple episodes in production at the same time, the production manager assigns these assistants to specific episodes in a rotational format to help supervise its production on a more intimate level. Their main responsibilities include coordinating between each production department, tracking each department’s progress and schedule, delivering production materials from one department to another (i.e. delivering key drawings to the in-between animators), and managing outsourced or freelance work. The assistant production manager will also perform numerous administrative roles, including making copies of production materials, taking and distributing notes from production meetings, and running errands to ensure that the production staff have the resources they need to get their jobs done.
The assistant director is an extension of the episode director, attending to tasks that the episode director does not have time for. They will often run errands for the director and do whatever they can to make the director’s stressful job easier. Many assistant directors are also episode directors and switch between the two roles as needed.
When a staff member takes on the role of both the “Assistant Director” and “Assistant Production Manager” for an episode, their credit is revised to denote this by combining the two original credits (演出助手 + 製作進行 = 演助進行). This practice was common early in the franchise, specifically in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, as outsourcing was less prevalent at the time.
The assistant (or junior) producer represents the series’ producer(s) and will often work closely with the production manager to track the production’s schedule and milestones. They also act as a go-between for the producer and an episode’s main production staff, performing any task the producer requests. In some cases they will be assigned by the producer to directly supervise or keep track of a critical or possibly problematic area of the production process to ensure it is completed without complications.
総作画監督Chief Animation Supervisor
The chief animation supervisor works directly under the supervising director of animation and acts as a second layer of quality control, correcting drawings prior to being reviewed by the chief animator or supervising director of animation. They are responsible for overseeing a specific episode’s overall animation and directly supervise the episode’s animation supervisor(s). Once key drawings have been approved by the episode’s animation supervisor, the chief animation supervisor further checks and corrects them. Key drawings that have been approved by both the animation supervisor and chief animation supervisor are then given to the series’ supervising director of animation for a final check. When needed, or as dictated by the production schedule, the chief animation supervisor will assist the supervising director of animation and perform an episode’s final animation check.
The animation supervisor is the first layer of quality control for an episode and is responsible for overseeing, checking, and correcting the key animator’s layouts and drawings. The corrections can be for many reasons, but are most often to bring the characters “on-model” so that they more accurately reflect the character designs. They often work closely with the chief animation supervisor, but overall, the final look of the episode hinges on the artistic abilities of the animation supervisor. In some instances multiple animation supervisors will work on a single episode, with each one supervising a specific portion of the episode.
作画監督補佐Assistant Animation Supervisor
The role of an assistant animation supervisor is to assist the episode’s animation supervisor with a variety of tasks in order to meet animation deadlines and budgets. The two positions work hand-in-hand, with the animation supervisor providing the managerial direction and the assistant animation supervisor providing any support needed. Often times if an episode contains a complex or crucial sequence, the animation supervisor will assign an assistant animation supervisor to directly oversee that specific section of animation, who in some instances will provide a portion of the key animation themselves.
Key animators are typically some of the more talented artists in the studio, sometimes even taking on the role of animation supervisor or assistant animation supervisor as needed. These artists are responsible for drawing the pivotal moments within the animation that will ultimately define a scene’s motion. Prior to drawing the key frames, key animators will create layouts (more detailed versions of the storyboard image) of the cuts or scenes they have been assigned. These layouts serve as a blueprint for the following stages of animation, mapping out how the characters and scenery should be framed, as well as depicting the exact details of how the characters are to be positioned.
An in-between animator draws the remaining frames that are missing in-between the key animators’ drawings to complete a sequence of animation. The in-between animator traces and cleans up the lines of the key frames, and then draws in the missing frames based on the timing sheet provided by the key animator. The completed animation, including key and in-between frames, is then inspected and sent to the finishing department.
Computer Graphics Department
The CG director is responsible for supervising, managing, and reviewing all production aspects of the computer graphics department. In addition to assigning scenes to the various digital artists and CG animators, they also determine the technical approaches needed to achieve the desired look and feel of scenes featuring computer generated graphics. The CG director often works closely with the episode director and the chief animation supervisor to maintain a level of visual consistency across the entire production.
The CG manager is the administrator responsible for managing the business matters of the computer graphics department and ensuring its smooth operation. The manager coordinates all department communications concerning scheduling, such as informing pertinent staff of meetings, delivery deadlines, and related events. The CG manager is also responsible for tracking the departments budget and monitoring the progression of the digital artists and animators. As some of the computer graphics work is outsourced to other companies besides Toei Animation, this internal position is critical in maintaining an episode’s production schedule.
The digital artist utilizes computer graphic technology to render 2D or 3D artwork and effects that supplement and enhance the completed digital animation from the animation department.
The CG animator is responsible for compiling and rendering an entire scene or shot using only computer graphics technology. This is in contrast to the digital artist, who combines CG arwork with the 2D animation produced by the animation department.
The art director is responsible for supervising and managing the production aspects of the art department for a given episode, specifically related to background artwork. This position is typically filled by the senior-most background artist, who is sometimes also the series’ art designer. After assigning scenes to the other background artists, the art director provides guidance as to the artistic style and visual elements of the artwork based on the designs provided by the art designer. Unlike other production departments, the art director will actually work alongside their staff and produce background art for assigned scenes. As background art is completed, the art director will review and inspect the artwork, ensuring visual consistency for every scene.
The art manager is the administrator responsible for managing the business matters of the art department and ensuring its smooth operation. Working with the art designer and art directors, the manager coordinates all department communications concerning scheduling, such as informing pertinent staff of design meetings, delivery deadlines, and related events. The art manager is also responsible for tracking the departments budget and monitoring the progression of the background artists. As most of the artwork is outsourced to other companies besides Toei Animation, this internal position is critical in maintaining an episode’s production schedule.
The background artists produce the scene background artwork, which are based on the layouts provided by the key animators, using traditional canvas painting techniques. In modern animation, the background artists and studios are typically responsible for scanning their background art, editing them digitally, and submitting the finished product to the animation studio.
The color selector is responsible for assigning the color palette for each scene of an episode based on the main color palette established by the series’ color designer. While the color palette is well established for main characters and objects, the color selector works closely with the color designer to decide the appropriate colors for the those of characters and objects not previously established during the pre-production stage. The color selector also ensures that the color pallet used by the finishing artists have been properly selected and are consistent with those established throughout the episode. In smaller productions, such as episodes, they often perform the role of inspection.
The finishing manager is the administrator responsible for managing the business matters of the finishing department and ensuring its smooth operation. The manager coordinates all department communications concerning scheduling, such as informing pertinent staff of meetings, delivery deadlines, and related events. The finishing manager is also responsible for tracking the departments budget and monitoring the progression of the finishing touches artists and digital colorists. As most of the finishing work is outsourced to other companies besides Toei Animation, this internal position is critical in maintaining an episode’s production schedule.
検査・仕上検査Inspection / Finishing Inspection
The inspector is in charge of double-checking and inspecting all of the finished artwork before it is sent to the compositing department. They ensure everything is properly colored, so that nothing that should be colored is left transparent, and check for color consistency. This position is normally held by a finishing touches artist and/or the color selector. The role is often not credited in the production of a single episode and is typically only credited in larger productions, such as films or specials, when there is an overwhelming number of frames to be inspected.
These artists and studios take care of the touch-up or finishing aspects of the animation process, which includes tracing the finished artwork onto clear celluloid sheets, applying the ink outlines and color paint, along with double-checking the final animation. This credited role has since been replaced in modern animation by digital coloring, although a finishing inspector will sometimes still be utilized and credited in modern productions.
These artists and studios take care of the touch-up or finishing aspects of the animation process, which includes digitally painting and double-checking the completed drawings.
This is the stage in which the completed animation segments are edited and sequenced together in the order of the plot while being combined with the master audio track. Post-production includes many different processes grouped under a single name. The first job of the editor is to compile a rough cut of the episode with the various sequences (or scenes) created during the production process. The purpose of the rough cut is to place the scenes in the proper order. The next step is to create a fine cut where the sequences flow together smoothly in a more natural, seamless story. Trimming — the process of shortening scenes by a few minutes, seconds, or even frames — is done during this phase. In addition to editing the footage, all music and special effects are added in this stage. After the fine cut has been screened and approved by the director and producer, the footage is “locked,” meaning no further changes are made. The completed footage is then processed, rendered, and prepared for distribution.
The audio director is in charge of all aspects of the series’ audio and makes all of the final audio-related decisions. They are responsible for directing voice recording sessions and confirming music selections. The audio director works closely with the producers and episode director to ensure that the music and voice performances fit what was envisioned and is appropriate for the given scene.
The music credit is given to the series’ main musical composer. They are responsible for composing and arranging the incidental music, or background music, for the series.
After the background music has been recorded and submitted by the series’ composer, the music selection staff member (often referred to as the music director or producer) organizes and catalogs the musical tracks as they are received. Each track is assigned an identification number, such as C3, F48, or M203, with the leading letter indicating the type of track (i.e. theme songs, bookend or eyecatch music, scenic music, etc). Based on the episode’s script and the scene timing established by the storyboard, the music and audio director will select and place the appropriate musical tracks. Once track placements have been determined, the music director creates a master tape of the episode’s musical track and submits it to the audio director for final review and approval.
With the adoption of digital audio and easily-filterable digital catalogs of music, a separate music selection role was no longer necessary. Following Dragon Ball GT, the task of music selection and placement is performed solely by the audio director.
The recording director works for the recording studio and is in charge of all voice recording aspects of the series. They are responsible for managing recording sessions, cataloging the voice recordings, along with maintaining and operating all of the recording equipment. When an episode’s recording session is complete, the recording director will meet with the audio and episode directors in the recording studio and mix all of the audio tracks together, including the dialogue, musical score, and sound effects. Once everything is mixed to all of their satisfaction, the recording director saves a master audio file and sends it off for final online editing with the completed animation.
Prior to the use of digital recording technology, audio was recorded on large reels of magnetic tape. The audio for Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT were all recorded on 16mm “cine tape”, which were later incorporated into the animation’s film reel as optical soundtracks.
The sound effects editor is responsible for collecting/creating, selecting, and editing the sound effects for the series. After receiving a copy of the script and storyboard, the sound effects editor will make detailed notes identifying all sounds specifically mentioned or implied by the action. Sound effect production companies often have their own unique libraries of sounds, and most veteran sound effect editors also maintain their own collection of recorded material. Once any new sounds or effects have been identified and recorded, the sound effects editor develops and delivers sound effects cue sheets and tracks to the audio director for review. The sound effects editor is often present in final reviews of post-production sound with the final picture edit, at which point further changes may be made until the episode and audio directors are satisfied with the result.
This credit lists the episode’s voice cast and their associated roles. It is typically proceeded by a credit for the associated voice talent agency.
Visual Effects Department
特殊効果・デジタル特殊効果Special Effects / Digital Special Effects
Special effects artists use specialized techniques to produce a distinct visual appearance within the animation. These effects include things such as wind, clouds, smoke, lightning, sun beams, explosions, and most notably in Dragon Ball
, energy attacks and auras.
The techniques used by special effects artists include physically dry-brushing, airbrushing, applying charcoal, or drawing with grease pencils on separate celluloid sheets that would be placed over the animation as it is being photographed. During photography the special effects artist may have the animation backlit or request that the photographer use multiple exposures with various diffusing screens, filters, or gels.
Specialized computer software is used to digitally add 2D effects to the animation, such as shading, textures, gleans off of metal objects, dirt or scratches, etc., which are drawn by hand with a stylus pen and tablet. These effects are meant to add additional detail to the animation to provide a sense of realism to a 2D animated object. This role is not to be confused with the digital artist, who adds rendered animation to a production.
撮影監督Director of Photography
This role is not often necessary in the production of a single episode and is typically only credited in larger productions, such as films or specials, which require more oversight and instruction. As the head of the compositing department, the director of photography supervises the overall compositing of a production. In addition to the key animator layouts, which often depict a scenes framing, the director of photography provides guidance to the individual photographers concerning light direction, focusing, and camera work to create the atmosphere of a shot as depicted by the episode’s storyboards.
撮影・デジタル撮影Photography / Digital Photography
The photography, or compositing, credit is given to the individuals responsible for compiling and photographing an image of every frame of animation. While the act of shooting a cut’s composite animation is still referred to as “photography” in modern animation, the term’s use is a mere carryover from traditional animation, as in modern animation there is no physical camera or film involved. Traditionally a single photographer and their assistant would photograph an entire episode, while more modern animation must utilize multiple photographers due to the increased complexity of a shot allowed by computer software, as well as an expedited production schedule.
The photographer is responsible for photographing every frame of animation onto a reel of film. Each cel involved in a frame of a sequence is laid on top of each other, with the background art at the bottom of the stack. This composite image is then photographed. The cels are removed, and the process repeats for the next frame until each frame in the sequence has been photographed. The abilities of the photographer are essential for reducing “jitter”, creating certain special effects, and adding pans and zooms into or out of certain scenes.
The photographer is responsible for creating a digital image for every frame of animation. Each digitally colored drawing, digital special effect, and scanned background art involved in a cut are imported into specialized compositing image software and placed over the appropriate background based on the timing sheet provided, with the background art at the bottom of the layer stack. The photography then establishes the virtual camera work, ensuring everything looks fluid and is properly framed as depicted by the layouts.
The role of the editor, and in turn editing, has drastically changed with the advent of modern video editing software that operates on a non-linear editing (NLE) system, which performs non-destructive editing on source material. This is in contrast to traditional (analogue) methods of linear video editing and film editing which utilized physical manipulation of materials.
The editor is responsible for joining photographed sequences of film together onto a film reel and ultimately creates the finished animation as it will be seen on television or in the movie theater. An editor must creatively work with the layers of images, story, and pacing to effectively “redirect” them to create a cohesive whole, all of which is supervised by either the series or episode director. The editor also adds transitions between scenes and inserts a strip containing the episodes audio track from the master “cine tape”, which includes theme songs, background music, sound effects, and voice performances.
The editor is responsible for joining the digitally photographed sequences of images together based on the timing sheet provided. When all of the animated sequences have been combined, a master video file (without audio) is exported and sent to the online editing department.
With all of the episode’s individual components complete, the editor begins the final step of the video editing process, known as “Online Editing”. All of the episode’s audio and video components are placed in linear video editing software and combined to form the episode’s master video file, which is lossless (utilizes no compression software to reduce its file size). The master video file is saved in Toei Animation’s archives and can be distributed domestically or internationally to various companies for broadcast or home video release.