Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children - Production

Production

Advent Children came about when script writer Kazushige Nojima decided to write "a story about Cloud and Tifa and the kids." Visual Works, a company that had developed CGI films for Square in the past, picked Final Fantasy VII as the theme for a presentation they were going to create. Square's research and development department worked with them on the launch, and director Tetsuya Nomura joined the crew after producer Yoshinori Kitase called him. Early in pre-production, they thought about making Advent Children as a game, but Nomura decided that it was not possible to do this, due to a number of factors, including the fact that Visual Works were not equipped to make a game. As such, the development team decided to stick with the original plan and make the story into a film. The creators had no prior experience working on films, so they fell back on their knowledge of in-game movies.

The idea was for the film to focus on the characters of Cloud and Tifa in a similar way to how other titles from Compilation of Final Fantasy VII centered on certain characters (for example, Before Crisis focuses on the Turks, Dirge of Cerberus focuses on Vincent, and Crisis Core focuses on Zack Fair). Nomura says the film was, in its first manifestation, only going to be 20 minutes long. The original story featured someone requesting a message to be sent to Cloud; the message is then relayed to Cloud through several children, and, when the message finally reaches Cloud, it is revealed who the messenger is. Nomura very much liked the original script, and it became the foundation of the final script. He decided to make the project longer and more grand in scope when early word of the film generated great interest amongst Final Fantasy VII fans, the majority of whom wanted something feature length. Nomura initially decided that the film should be 60 minutes long, but after development began, its length changed to 100 minutes.

Takeshi Nozue and Nomura, who had first worked together on the video game Kingdom Hearts, split the role of directing, as Nomura felt this would add depth to the film. In designing the battle scenes they first discussed the setting and layout, and then went to the staff with their ideas, deciding which were the best and developing them further. The battle between Cloud's group and Bahamut was the most difficult to design due to the size of the area and the number of objects the staff had to add to the scene to keep it realistic. The alternating positions of the characters, including Bahamut itself, took the staff a long time to complete in order to give the scene a sense of flow. Nomura stated that the team decided not to worry about making fighting sequences conform to reality, as they did not want to have such restrictions, instead wanting the scenes to have a "cool look." Therefore, they worked by creating their "own rules." Motion capture was used for many of the film's battle scenes, but sequences which were not humanly possible to perform had to be done entirely in the computer.

In terms of designing the characters, the staff discovered that it was impossible for them to directly translate the Final Fantasy VII designs into the film, and thus some identifying characteristics had to be discarded. Cloud's redesign was a combination of eight different designs, from his super deformed appearance in the game to his more realistic appearance in the film. The difficulties in making Sephiroth led the staff to reduce his appearances in the film, as it took them two years to develop and refine his look. Nozue also had difficulty developing a framework for Tifa's body that was "balanced, yet showed off her feminine qualities." In April 2003, it was decided that Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo would be manifestations of Sephiroth's spirit—his cruelty, strength, and allure respectively. In contrast to Sephiroth, the trio was meant to be younger than Cloud, so as to focus on the "next generation" theme. By October 2003, Nomura said that the film was 10% complete, stating that while the scenario was written, not all the characters were designed.

Nomura felt that Advent Children was different from Hollywood films as in the latter the meaning of most scenes tends to be explained. With Advent Children, however, the staff wanted viewers to be able to interpret scenes themselves, allowing them to come to various conclusions. Nojima described the theme of the film as "survival". Other themes with which Nomura and Nojima were concerned include Cloud's feelings of guilt and regret for not being able to save his friends Zack and Aerith. These feelings are symbolized by a grey wolf that appears whenever Cloud thinks about them. The wolf disappears at the end of the film as Cloud comes to terms with his feelings. The word "children" was used in the title to refer to the film's children, as they represent the "next generation."

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