Director Higuchi Shinji had decided to film the adaptation Fall 2012. Before then, it was said that he had focused on making original works only.
“What caught my eye at first were the titans and the 3D maneuver gears. I’ve always liked monsters, and thought that if possible, it would be fun to try and turn it into a live action.”
“Once I decided to direct this, I wondered how I would accomplish the special effects. I decided I would like to use the human actors, miniatures, as well as CG to portray the titans using a hybrid of VFX and digital manipulation.”
How exactly did Director Higuchi decide to portray the two things he thought were the most interesting in Attack on Titan? First was the 3D maneuver gear, praised as “Mankind’s Greatest Invention.” The live-action staff chose two keywords for this: “achievement” and “personality”. Over 3 months, they worked on how to show the “glory of the victors” with just this one item. They were confident with the level of perfection they achieved.
Then there were the titans. What draws most people reading the original work are the titans, giant people that “appear without explanation, munching on humans, once again with little background information.”
Furthermore, the warriors who challenge these titans despite little guarantee of victory, wearing weapons that grant them superhero-like range of movement. These youths who took on this challenge, “without exception, were all twisted in some way.”
“The first time Isayama-san and I talked, he told me that the titans don’t move in a way that causes fear. It's their uncanny toeing of the boundaries of what seems human that causes discomfort.” Higuchi was told *The scariness of the original work is definitely due to the uncertainty of whether they were human or not,” and to “find people that looked titan-like to act,” then started preparing test shootings and methods. One of the key scenes was where the titan eats a human was important to the director. “As a reader that was shocked reading that the first time, I couldn’t betray myself [by taking it out],” pursuing it to the last. Through “mutual trust and understanding,” the rating of the film was lowered to PG-12.
The filming location, Gunkanjima Island, also possessed a dystopian feeling. It was "a fascinating place that could feasibly become that kind of cruel world in real life.”
”It was love at first sight. I’m thankful we were able to film there with our crew. I’ve become so familiar with the place I could probably serve as a local guide."
The ones that helped with filming were various people from Nagasaki, the intuitive Moriken Sei (who was promoted to Line Producer), and the tenacious negotiator, Producer Saito Yamamoto. The filming process in which they put the miniatures in the real life environment using 3D scanning “was so difficult I can’t express it in words,” and is definitely worth seeing.