What are animation cels?
A cel, short for celluloid, is a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation. With the advent of computer-assisted animation production, the use of cels has been all but abandoned in major productions. The last Disney animated film to use cels in animation production was The Little Mermaid, after that Disney Studios stopped using cels in 1990 when Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) replaced this element in their animation process. Whereas the last Studio Ghibli animated film to use cels was Princess Mononoke in 1997. However, TV series animation producers kept using cels until early 2000s.
How cels are produced?
Generally, the characters are drawn on cels and laid over a static background drawing. This reduces the number of times an image has to be redrawn and enables studios to split up the production process to different specialised teams. Using this assembly line way to animate has made it possible to produce films much more cost-effectively. The invention of the technique is generally attributed to Earl Hurd, who patented the process in 1914. The outline of the images are drawn on the front of the cel while colors are painted on the back to eliminate brush strokes. Traditionally, the outlines were hand-inked but since the 60s they are almost exclusively xerographed on.
How cels became collectables?
Production cels were sometimes sold after the animation process was completed. More popular shows and movies demanded higher prices for the cels, with some selling for thousands of dollars.
Some unique cels have fetched record prices at art auctions. For example, a large “pan” cel depicting numerous characters from the finale of Who Framed Roger Rabbit sold for $50,600 at Sotheby’s in 1989, including its original background.
What is Akihabara Art Gallery?
We at Akihabara Art Gallery, are a couple that appreciates classical handmade Japanese animated art and we look after those who appreciate animation cels by bringing them closer to these art pieces and connecting them with cel collectors and experts.
We specialize in collecting anime production cels since 2015. We tour the middle east to exhibit our collections and use the digital space to trade cels.
How to your keep cels safe?
We have spent tremendous efforts to maintain these cels, which made them even more valuable to us.
Maintaining anime celluloid is an important part of keeping a cel in good condition for it to retain its value and sentimentality in the present and in the future.
To help you maintain your cel, we are sharing with you here some tips on how to store or frame your cel.
Don’t expose the cel to direct sunlight. Store it or hang the cel in shaded places.
It is recommended to use large A3 portfolio folders to store the cels.
When framing cels, make sure to use UV protection glass to protect the cel from harmful rays, and to separate celluloid layers by adding window mats between layers.
Store the cel vertically and avoid placing any items on top of it.
Don’t expose the cel to heat and extremely low or high humidity levels.
When storing the cel, ventilate the cel packaging by cutting the corners of the packaging.
When storing the cel, add nylon sheets in between layers to avoid cels sticking to each other.