Making Ruby Gloom Harmony has been the key to the look, movement, and overall feel of this production.
Addressing the Market Needs
Throughout 2006, Toon Boom has invested significant resources not only to increase its presence in the industry, but also to have educational facilities train their students on Toon Boom technologies. Leading institutions such as Seneca College and Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning have implemented Toon Boom Storyboard and Solo in their state-of-theart curriculums to provide their students with the creative and technical skills desired by the market place
Committed to developing
Following its very successful road show and workshops in Brazil, Toon
new markets and creating animation hubs, the Toon Boom team has traveled to the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa to work with the local players and help them build a vibrant and viable animation industry. The team attended Creanimax in México, Anima Mundi in Brazil, Buenos Aires se Anima in Argentina, Animae Caribe Animation and New Media Festival in Trinidad, as well as toured Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
Boom has started to establish Authorized Learning Centers with major specialized art and animation colleges and universities in Argentina, Brazil, México, Ecuador, Chile, Venezuela and Colombia. México’s latest animated feature film, La Leyenda de la Nahuala, will be done with Toon Boom Harmony. Major Brazilian/Canadian co-productions for TV series will integrate Toon Boom Storyboard and Harmony in their pipeline. Several highly regarded companies producing commercial animation for advertising, the web and mobile phones are among the active prospects testing Toon Boom technologies in Latin America. Toon Boom is also supporting not-forprofit animated projects in Guatemala and Brazil. Based on its proven track record, Toon Boom is proud to act as a catalyst to propel budding initiatives in new locations, such as the Caribbean and Africa where several activities are already underway. ________________________________________________________________________________ MIPCOM 2006 has given the team an additional opportunity to showcase Toon Boom solutions to producers and studios that are more interested than ever in pipeline integration and cost efficiency. 2007 is certainly looking very promising! The team is already preparing to attend FlashForward (January 8-9) and Macworld Booth N4014, in the digital media, multimedia, publishing solutions Pavilion (January 9-12) in San Francisco, Kidscreen (February 7-9) in New York, National Art Education Association (March 14-18) in New York, FRAMES in Mumbai (March 26-28) and National Association of Broadcasters, Booth SL2622 (April 14-19) in Las Vegas. ________________________________________________________________________________ As for animation festivals, Toon Boom has been extensively involved throughout the world and plans to be even more committed in 2007. Our paths will surely cross as Toon Boom is getting ready for another very animated year!
THIS ISSUE’S COVER courtesy
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CUSTOM TOOLS FOR 2D/3D
Integration in development The need to have 2D/3D integration tools is pressing and Toon Boom is already on the mark and set to go. When studios look for more efficiency, productivity and creative freedom, the Toon Boom Research and Development team makes it its priority to develop and provide the necessary solution. Whether studios want to create a unique style, reduce production costs or increase the animation quality, the objective is to deliver the proper process and set of tools that will enable them to continue to push the envelope. To make the most of 2D and 3D integration, several alternatives are looked into and special attention is given to pipeline management. Developed in partnership with Nelvana to get direct feedback from this leading and well-respected industry player, this revolutionary solution aims to offer as seamless and integrated a workflow as possible and set a new dimension in animation production. Toon Boom prides itself on continuously delivering cutting-edge technologies that serve the needs of the animation and live-action industry, for all styles, formats and users.
TOON BOOM STAR We introduce you to the people behind the technology and put a face to the voice you may have spoken to. Graduated from Université
Image courtesy of Luc Otter
de Montréal with a Bachelor of Sciences in Computer Sciences in 1989, Marc Bégin joined Toon Boom eight years ago and made his way through the Research and Development team to become Director of Development, Industrial Solutions. He was first a Team Leader for two years on the product formerly known as USAnimation, then moved on to Toon Boom Studio as Project Leader for four years and then to his current position. Marc is very busy at work and at home, too! Pascale and Marc are the very proud parents of five children, three boys and two girls, ranging from 2 to 12 years old. It seems that Marc’s days have more than 24 hours, as he also manages to find time for his hobbies which revolve around science fiction, reading and photography.
SPONSORSHIP As mentioned in the June 2006 issue of the Toon Boom News, Toon Boom Animation is proud to be sponsoring Mark Heese, a multiple medal winner in beach volleyball. This column will allow you to follow his progress towards the upcoming Games of the XXIX Olympiad – Beijing 2008. After gaining his ninth National Championship at the end of August, Mark Heese was confident that he could continue his winning ways once he returned to the FIVB World Tour for the last two events of the year. However, if he was going to keep winning, it would have to be with a new partner. After meeting with national team athletes and coaches, it was decided to switch some partnerships for the remaining events of 2006, in Brazil and Mexico. Mark would now team up with his partner from 2005, Ahren Cadieux. “It was the right timing for a change, and I am looking forward to re-uniting with Ahren, as I think we are capable of playing a high level of volleyball.” In Brazil, as matches were quite competitive and challenging, the team finished at 17th place. Following this competition, they worked on their “end-of-match” skills by designing some specific drills to work on, as well as doing some useful mental training that targeted the end-of-match mindset. This training paid off in huge dividends in Mexico. Mark and Ahren beat two top-ten teams in the World Ranking, including the top team from the U.S.A., and finished at 9th place. Toon Boom congratulates Mark on his efforts this season and looks forward to more beach volleyball action over the next two seasons, as we draw closer to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Happy Training in the off-season, Mark!
SERVICE PACK FOR TOON BOOM STUDIO Starting December 2006, Toon Boom Studio V3.5 customers can log onto Toon Boom’s web site and download the latest product Service Pack from the MyProducts page. This Service Pack addresses known issues and will allow the user to get the maximum benefit when animating.
CONGRATULATIONS As part of the 2006 Animation Celebration, the French Animation Association (Afca) and Toon Boom launched an animation contest for the Web. The suggested theme was An Unusual Encounter. Between October 18 and 25, 2006, online voting took place on Toon Boom’s website to select the top three animated shorts. Congratulations to Luc Otter (Canada), Alexandre Dubosc (France) and B. Trémelet L. (France). On October 28, during International Animation Day, screenings were organized at the Cinémathèque québécoise in Montreal and at Elysée Lincoln Theater in Paris to show the winners’ and finalists’ shorts. Each winner received a personal copy of Toon Boom Solo as well as selected Workout Series titles. Luc Otter is already well-known in the festival network as several of his shorts have been selected in prestigious festivals such as Cannes, Hiroshima, Annecy, Espinho, London, Taipei, Tampere and seen on TV in Europe and North America. toonboom news
Image courtesy of Alphanim, France 3
co-producer Winnie Chaffee. “We work a lot with overseas animation studios, where Opus and now Harmony are the software of choice,” says Roos. “For us, the timing was perfect on Toon Boom’s latest releases. We were looking for a better fit between our development/pre-production and overseas on Mr. Pig & Mr. Duck when Solo came out.” He likes the animator-friendly exposure sheets, and recently purchased Storyboard for some projects currently in development. “We can start in Storyboard, get our timing down, and for less time-critical jobs and development, finish in Solo, or scale up to overseas delivery. The key is pipeline, we’re not recreating any steps, and the metadata gets passed along every step of the way. I don’t know of any other 2D solution that scales from boards to a networked 100+ seat overseas animation studio.”
Over 2000 to 2004, Alphanim was France’s undisputed number 1 producer in volume and market share. Founded in February 1997 by Christian Davin, the studio produces and distributes audiovisual and cinema programs. Considering the success of the first RobotBoy’s series, Alphanim has started the production of the second series, which includes 52 thirteen-minute episodes. Combining Toon Boom Storyboard capabilities with Opus production power, Alphanim makes the best use of its integrated solution. “On multi-site productions, we put great emphasis on quality consistency and production efficiency. We make Toon Boom’s advanced technologies part of our strategy to reach our objectives and continue delivering successful animation programs. Now with Storyboard and Opus part of the same pipeline, we foresee an even greater performance in our production unit,” shares Jean-Pierre Quenet, Director of operations at Alphanim.
Image courtesy of PMI Green Gold Animation Pvt Ltd
Image courtesy of AQ Design
AQ Design’s been cartooning in Manhattan since 1986 and The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. More recently, the studio has played a part in Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and has played a role from A to Z on owner Peter Roos’s production company, Phase Four’s Kenny the Shark, and Mr. Pig & Mr. Duck, with
Mumbai-based PMI Entertainment (India) Pvt Ltd and Hyderabad-based Green Gold Animation Pvt Ltd have formed a joint venture company, PMI Green Gold Animation Pvt Ltd, to produce animation feature films, TV series, and live action children’s programming. Their first episode of a four-part TV feature, Krishna: The Birth, premiered on Cartoon Network in August 2006 on the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami. This 75-minute long, 2D animation movie chronicles the events and incidents accompanying the birth of Lord Vishnu as Krishna. This is Cartoon Network’s second acquisition from Green Gold Animation Studio, the earlier one being Vikram Betal in 2005. Over 100 animation specialists worked on this quality project, which took almost a year to finalize from pre-production, with production taking six months. “The purpose of using Harmony for our whole production process was to alleviate the need to use multiple software. It has helped us in automating lip synching, thereby saving us a good amount of time. Harmony gave us the flexibility of using camera or multiple cameras in a 3D environment to set action as we had the option to view side and top to plan which helped our creative director to implement his input on the digital
Image courtesy of MoonScoop
MoonScoop is one of the leading producers in animation with a slate of six series per year. Its distribution catalogue includes over 2,000 half-hours of programming across 100 titles airing in over 100 territories worldwide. MoonScoop aims to build its worldwide presence by focusing on projects with international appeal and longevity. Its key properties for this year include Code Lyoko, a fast-paced 2D/3D show currently airing in the US on Cartoon Network and internationally; popular 3D alien adventure series Pet Alien; The Fantastic Four based on the classic Marvel comic-book heroes; and, evergreen character Titeuf (Tootuff). For the 2D animation and ink and paint done in the latter projects, Pegs has been the tool of choice by Moonscoop. The Fantastic Four offers a very well done combination of traditional 2D with 3D animation that is true to the original comic book look and feel.
Michael Astrachan, Creative Director at XVIVO, first saw Toon Boom Storyboard at the last SIGGRAPH and immediately recognized the many benefits of this program. At XVIVO, they focus primarily on medical and scientific animation. Due to medical legal reviews and scientific approvals, their storyboards are subject to many revisions. “Toon Boom Storyboard allows me to make the revisions simply, often saving dozens of hours over the course of a project. Another feature that attracted me to Storyboard is that it is an integrated animatic program. The animatic can be created by the click of a button, again, saving hours of precious production time. Storyboard also works on my Tablet PC. This allows me to work anywhere and anytime,” shared Michael. Often their production process begins with a script. Michael follows a well structured workflow that maximizes Storyboard’s capabilities: “I record a rough (read scratch track) and import that into Storyboard. Next I import the script’s .txt file into Storyboard. Once the audio file and associated .txt file are imported, I begin to layout the shots needed to depict the action by adding shot and scenes as needed. Finally the sketching begins, as I either draw directly in Storyboard with my Tablet PC, or on paper. Sometimes standard pencil sketches are needed and Storyboard allows me to easily scan and import them for use as backgrounds. Storyboard also allows me to sketch in the “actors” which in my line of work, are often cells and proteins. I can save these actors to a library where I can drag and drop into shots as needed. Storyboard’s camera and motion tools allow me to start to think about the camera moves and the edits extremely early in the production process. Additionally, the motion tools let me plan how moving elements will transition from shot to shot. Once the storyboard is finished, I output to both a .pdf file and an animatic for client review. Well, it wouldn’t be a client review without changes. And happily, making changes in Storyboard is a breeze. From initial concept to planning an entire production, Storyboard allows me the flexibility needed to deliver more - and in less time than I ever thought possible,” concludes Michael.
Image courtesy of XVIVO
side. We have a good amount of characters in this series and Harmony helped us streamline our color styling process too,” shared Rajiv Chilakalapudi, Founder and Managing Director at Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd. The second feature, related to Krishna’s childhood, premiers on Cartoon Network in December 2006. The studio is also producing an animated series of Chota Bheem and two animated feature films.
Image courtesy of ZOOLOOK
Image courtesy of Nik Nilsson
Nik Nilsson is the creative coordinator at Heritage Mountain Community Church in Port Moody, British Columbia. Nik has found humor to be the single most effective tool for reaching people; laughter opens the mind and allows the writer heaping dollops of inspiration. One thing small churches don’t have is a pool of solid acting talent. “Our videos were often limited by this, and you can only do the Monty Python dress-up thing a couple of times before people begin to realize that the woman with the beard is actually Graham in a dress,” shared Nik with a smile. Nik adopted Toon Boom Studio very recently and plans to create clips no more than two to seven minutes in length. Stylistically, the animation will be simple, as they are usually looking at lead times of two months to a couple of weeks. Characters have to be ready to go and scenery easy to draw. “The camera controls alone are a life-saver, as is the lip sync tool. Using it doesn’t feel like work; this is the highest compliment I can give an application,” added Nik.
Mike Goubeaux and Andrew Muto have teamed up to create Trains, a very impressive music video produced and directed for a band called Summerbirds in the Cellar. This video was a winner at the last Scion xPress Fest, which is a
national student filmmaker competition that matches filmmakers with indie bands. They quickly realized that Toon Boom Studio was going to be the only piece of software they could use to get their animation project finished on time and on budget. “The software and the interface were so user friendly that it freed me from worrying about the technology and concentrate on the animation. The color
Image courtesy of Mike Goubeaux and Andrew Muto
Based in San Francisco, Nicholas Da Silva is the founder of ZOOLOOK, LLC, a new media agency established in 1996. It utilizes Adobe creative suite of products as a storytelling medium to produce original flash-based entertainment properties that promote a multicultural experience. He is currently working on a new animated series which is actually a two-hour movie broken down into 2-3 minute mini-episodes. The series is entitled The Greatest Story Never Told and features the Cave Dudez and Cave Bettiez of Planet Rock. Toon Boom Studio will play a major role in the production of this series. “The ability to reuse assets like facial expressions and lip sync cuts your time in half. Also, the lip sync features and the 3D sceneplanning are features that any animator should not be without. Toon Boom Studio is definitely a great program and a must-have for any serious animator or studio. It provides certain features which aren't available in Flash that are a necessity to the serious animator,” commented Nicholas.
swatch function and the brush size function were features I was using every few minutes and increased my productivity. Most importantly, the ability to fill shapes not only on one frame, but through multiple frames in a stack with one button click. This saved hours every single day,” enthused Andrew. Both Mike and Andrew are Savannah College graduates and are now settled in Los Angeles developing new film and music video projects. ___________________________________________________________________________
Craig Olsson is a student majoring in animation at International Academy of Design and Technology in Tampa, Florida and working part-time as a graphic artist at api(+), an architectural firm. He likes creating animation with a “Looney Tunes” sense of fun and action, where anything goes. Craig enjoys the ability to play with a variety of line styles and thicknesses to create his characters. “The fact that Toon Boom Studio is vector based and has an excellent brush tool allows me to create a line that, I think, is better than what is seen in many animations,”stated Craig. He scans in his rough pencils and uses a Wacom tablet to do all the line work in Toon Boom Studio with the brush tool. After he colors the animation, he’ll go through and adjust the exposure of the individual cells on the x-sheet. Craig generally likes to vary the timing throughout to get a more natural feel to the animation. “Going paperless with the inking process has decreased the work time considerably,” he added.
Image courtesy of tMike Tracy
Real world tools
He is also a painter whose work is included in numerous corporate and private collections, as well as often appearing on the sets of feature films and television series. Some of these inclusions include feature films from Paramount, Castle Rock, Disney and Fox. His work has appeared on the sets of weekly series such as I'm With Her, My Wife and Kids, Six Feet Under and Four Kings as well as others. The Art Institute is a private, for-profit post secondary institution with 29 schools throughout North America. The Art Institutes have provided career-oriented education programs in design, media arts, fashion and culinary for over 35 years, and has more than 125,000 alumni. They provide bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in Culinary Arts, Game Art & Design, Graphic and Industrial Design, Interior Design, Media Arts & Animation and Multimedia & Web Design. In the Media Arts and Animation program, students begin with a substantial foundation in drawing, color, design, video production, and computer applications. From this foundation, students develop advanced skills in various aspects of computer graphics and animation. Students learn to use the tools of the computer animation profession, ranging from computer operating systems to 3D modeling and desktop video production. These tools enhance students’ flexibility and creativity, and enable them to produce an individualized digital portfolio that demonstrates their practical and technical abilities to potential employers. As a part of the Media Arts and Animation curriculum, students take a class in ink and paint that utilizes Toon Boom Studio. This class focuses on animation, background and layout, scene planning, compositing and story-telling. Mike Tracy has taught a section of the class for more than three years and draws on his feature animation experience to produce a series of exercises that help the students acquire both conceptual understandings of each of the important activities in a typical production environment as well as exploring the use of this technology in pursuit of story-telling. During the eleven–week Digital Ink and Paint course, students are introduced to the technical production proces-
Image courtesy of tMike Tracy
Mike Tracy has taught at the Art Institute of California - Orange County for six years. Prior to that, he worked as a layout artist in both feature animation and TV. He began his animation career at Walt Disney Features working as a layout artist on Fantasia 2000 and went on to work on Emperor's New Groove, and did layout on additional footage for Beauty and the Beast. He worked on several TV productions as a freelancer, doing layout, workbook and lighting guides for shows at Sony, DIC and Film Roman. He did layout and development work at Warner Brothers for the films Iron Giant and Osmosis Jones.
ses of putting animation together. The lessons explain the procedure of importing handgenerated art, converting drawn animation into cleaned-up, vector-based art and painting it. The class will also explore the nature of scene-planning, which is the process of compositing vectored animation with raster-based painting elements, and creating the camera moves, including a pan, repeat pan, truck in and out, and multiplane required to tell a story. Students primarily use Toon Boom Studio as the platform for this work, in combination with other applications. “The difference with Toon Boom Studio, however, is that it uses a very similar interface design to the ones used in mainstream animation production”, shares Mike. The elements are assembled in an X-sheet format, then composited in a camera window using pegbar elements to execute the scene planning activities. “Toon Boom Studio is an excellent alternative for small, quickly executed films, in a sense, you could consider the application as a moving ‘sketch-book’ for your animation ideas. For this reason, we will execute everything in Toon Boom Studio this quarter”. In addition to their skills evaluation, the grading system is based on the students’ understanding and proficiency in using the Toon Boom interface, creating small, full-color film clips utilizing cuts, trucks, pans and multi-plane camera moves as well as their overall quality, complexity and thoroughness of their work. The final project is a one to two-minute animated film, complete with sound and dialog that shows their ability to produce cleaned-up, vectored animation with rasterized background elements in a series of camera moves. “Toon Boom Studio is an ideal platform for the needs of our students because it utilizes real world tools such as the x-sheet and peg assemblies while maintaining a fairly easy learning curve. Most students get results right away.”
Image courtesy of Nelvana
Making Ruby Gloom in Harmony
Darin Bristow has worked at Nelvana for over 12 years serving in a variety of 2D and 3D capacities. His 2D skills can be seen on such series as Eek! The Cat, Sam and Max: Freelance Police, and his 3D skills on such projects as Rescue Heroes: The Movie, Miss Spider, and Handy Manny. Darin is currently Ruby Gloom’s Supervising Technical Director and offered us these observations. “I did it. I came back to 2D from 3D, and my timing couldn’t have been better! The advances in Toon Boom’s latest animation system were the key. Whenever a work meeting would take me for a wander through the Nelvana 2D department, I would always look over the shoulders of fellow employees to see what the current state of the medium was and ask myself “do I miss that?” The first year the answer was “not yet”. The technological advances in the 3D realm had kept me intrigued. I felt the nostalgic pang of seeing people sketching and erasing away, but at the time 3D felt right. It felt like the future. The second year the answer was still “not yet”, but something seemed on the horizon. Something big. Fast-forward a few years (and series) later, I was venturing through the 2D domain one
Image courtesy of Nelvana
Darin Bristow is currently Ruby Gloom’s Supervising Technical Director
day and saw then what we now call ‘Harmony’. When I stopped to see the endless possibilities it offered, only one word went through my mind- “Now”. Harmony’s technology really offered the tools to effectively blur the line between the 2D and 3D realms”shares Darin. “Luis Lopez, a Senior Technical Producer at Nelvana, offered me the chance to learn Harmony for a new 2D Digital series called Ruby Gloom and act as its Supervising Technical Director. Luis was about to revamp and implement new production pipeline procedures for our 2D digital department and he wanted me to be part of that team, so I snatched up the opportunity and haven’t looked back. We knew that Harmony was a solid application ready to handle any challenge we threw at it. In this latest version, the software has taken a huge leap forward in the level of visual story telling. Our most recent production, Ruby Gloom has implemented this technology, mixing it with the fundamentals of traditional animation movement, and the results are fantastic. We are looking for a cartoon, with all the zip and snap found in the shorts of the forties and fifties. Harmony has been the key to the look, movement, and overall feel of this production.” “By designing our show with Harmony’s strengths (and weaknesses) in mind, all the fluid stretch and squash found in traditional animation is possible. A major factor to the successful movement is found in the timing. For example, violent, snappy movement is absolutely brilliant with this system. Subtle anticipation before a major movement, along with a settle into a hold following that violent move, disguises the stretch and distortion of the move itself. We want to feel the fluidity more than see it.
Understanding these animation fundamentals of early “limited” animation from historic studios like UPA and Hanna Barbara are crucial in harnessing the strengths of Harmony. The characters are quite flat and 2D, but by using the techniques of snappy animation coupled with the 3D set, the limitations are virtually non-existent.”
Image courtesy of Nelvana
thing that was great about traditional 2D animation of the past, mixed in with all that is great about digital animation of the present, and then adds the heavy dose of the future. The result is something new and visually cutting edge. No matter what the visual challenges demanded by the director, Harmony would handle it. The visually popping the graphic, stylized art direction of the Ruby Gloom characters took us into the land of using highly detailed painterly Photoshop Backgrounds Designs. Many of these digital bitmap paintings contained upwards of 10-15 layers, all at 150 dpi, making them quite large- but yet Harmony handled them with ease. So easy in fact, we soon found that we could increase our source BG resolutions up to 300 dpi to maintain visual integrity in order to support Ruby Gloom’s high-definition composites, and zany zoomin camera moves.” The Ruby Gloom character designs also proved a 2D digital challenge themselves, Director Robin Budd wanted to maintain the ‘no-outline’ look of Ruby’s initial designs, yet have a percentage-colored line form only when two identical colors passed over one another, and have an offset character ‘rim light’ throughout animation. The fundament art direction mantra was ‘light against dark’ for maximum character ‘pop’, but that became an issue with some of the established dark costume against the dark backgrounds. “Using Harmony’s highly advanced Networks and tools, we were able to avoid a potential animation nightmare by simply rigging all these features right into the character models, thus keeping it off the animators’ shoulders, and production friendly. It allowed the animation team to just work freely, and due to how we rigged each character up front, the rim light would make itself by offsetting the animators key frame’s and not worry about it.” The sheer creative freedom Harmony offers the Ruby Gloom team has helped create a very unique and visually stunning product that has, and is, commanding the worldwide attention it deserves.
The story ideas set by producer Merle Anne Ridley and story editor Carolyn Hay required an animation approach that allowed complete flexibility. Massive zoom-ins, zip pans, or the more subtle movement such as slow moving clouds and atmospheres are no problem. With careful attention to pre-production and of course the animation itself, strong character performance is very achievable. “We all knew from day 1 that this show was going to be fresh, fun, and inventive. Combined with our WACOM Cintiqs, Harmony offers the technological sum of every-
Robin Budd has been passionately immersed in the animation business for 29 years. The seventies and eighties were focused on full, fluid traditional character animation of television specials for Nelvana, and feature films both in Toronto and Tokyo. In 1989, he directed his first television series, Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, and won an Emmy for most outstanding series. Years of feature development followed, for both Nelvana and Paramount Pictures. He joined Disney studios in the late nineties and directed the sequel Peter board work on a variety of television series, such as Sam and Max, Clone High, Jacob Two-two, and 6Teen. His most recent work is development and direction of Gerald McBoing Boing and Ruby Gloom.
Image courtesy of Nelvana
Pan, Return to NeverLand. The focus then shifted to story-
case study To the next level
Based in Basel, Switzerland, Mayer Films was founded by Gilbert Mayer in 2005 with the aim to produce independent feature films and animation for cinema, TV, DVD and Internet. Up to that date, Gilbert was mainly working in the field of commissioned work for the industry including commercials and image films, be it animation or documentary.
Image courtesy of Mayer Films
Gilbert also produced his first feature film for a young audience called Urban Odyssey. Another Mayer Films release is the animated short Ralf the Rat: Toulouse Lautrat which was shown at the national Festival of Swiss Films in Solothurn. His lineup of projects is quite impressive and includes Rien ne va plus, an animated series about an old peoples’ asylum, The New Kasper, a children’s series with hand puppets and 3D backgrounds, Bearytales, animated stories for children about the nightly activities of Teddy bears, mobiletoonland.com, downloadable content for mobile phones and Origin (working
title), his next feature film. “Toon Boom Studio is my central software for the whole production, although I shall be using Softimage XSi, Photoshop and Vegas as an editing software. For Rien ne va plus, I'll be drawing all characters on paper and even coloring them with Ecoline water-based liquid layout colors. This gives me a rich textured look with flickering colors, when characters are animated. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, being in this business 35 years. Of course I use Toon Boom Studio’s drawing tools for additional bits and pieces, like blinking eyes, flying insects or whatever small moving props are necessary. My hand-painted characters are scanned in as images in this special project. I have to consider the maximum resolution, as I work with pixels. The maximum output of the film will be HDTV 1080p (1920x1080 16:9 ratio) and the minimum a PAL widescreen 16:9 resolution. I use the smaller resolution for editing and change the files when ready for release. My backgrounds are sets done in a 3D package. In Toon Boom Studio, I make cut-out puppets from my scanned characters. I put the characters together in a hierarchy. Usually, they consist of body, head, upper arm, lower arm, hand, upper leg, lower leg, foot, separate mouth shapes and eyes. I give all the elements a parent peg, put them together in a hierarchy and finally arrange them from foreground to background. I switch then to the Pegbar Only Mode for more convenient working with the pivot points. Normally with a cut-out character all movements are rotations around the pivot points. Sometimes, I let Toon Boom Studio calculate all the in-betweens from one key frame to another. In other cases, I draw every frame to create a more
jerky and sometimes more funny movement. The character itself is fixed to a general Pegbar, which could be used for an up and down movement during a walking cycle. This movement can be cycled also. This up and down pegbar is again fixed to a Peg, which is responsible for translations in all directions. Like this, I have complete flexibility of movements. Good naming for all elements and pegs is essential to keep track. Besides moving the limbs in cut-out animation, you need to exchange elements. Toon Boom Studio has this great timeline, where you can just slide through all the drawings which are grouped in one single element. So I can have a whole set of hands with all needed positions and gestures. By simply setting a key frame and choosing the cell at that frame, I can animate by swapping in ultra high speed. Again, good planning of the drawings and their pivot points is essential for a successful workflow. Rien ne va plus is a film full of dialog. So I use the lip sync feature to a great extent. Any head I draw for a character has a set of the seven standard mouth positions, which fit the lip sync generator of Toon Boom Studio. It's a matter of seconds to get the first viewable result, which can easily be edited by hand for further improvement. The next much appreciated feature is the library in Toon Boom Studio. Once a character or a walk cycle is created, it is saved in the library and can be used again later. It is a great time saver! I sometimes put a whole scene in the library, to reuse it and change only the animation or the lip sync or the position of the camera. Whenever a scene consists of several layers like foreground, midground and background, I lay it out in 3D. Whenever I decide to make a camera track, dolly or pan, the scene is ready for an impressive multiplane effect. When I used to work on our 2000-pound Oxberry master animation stand, it was such a pain to plan these shots, that I used them very rarely. But with Toon Boom Studio, it’s just at your fingertips. If Walt Disney had known this... Although my characters are hand-painted and scanned in full color, I use the color correction tool a lot to get better compositing. Why should I wait for post-production when every tool is in Toon Boom Studio already? Sometimes, I put a color correction between each multiplane layer and get the effect of depth fading. I always render single images in TGA format, in two or three resolutions to edit up to high-end HDTV and the render quality is good. Even the vector lines from scanned in line drawings (pencil or ink) have an acceptable style. Every week, I learn more and my affection for this fantastic software grows. My plan is to upgrade to Solo. I think it would be a good investment to raise the production value of my films with the stunning special effects, the better rendering and the more integrated workflow Solo offers. Toon Boom Studio is a complete and convincing piece of software. I am confident that Solo would bring the quality of my animations to the next level.”
schools on board
Image courtesy of Iona College
The mass communication department at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York has recently started an experimental course in Computer Animation for Video. It combines the history of animation and storytelling theory with hands-on experience using computer animation programs. Students learn basic computer drawing and animation techniques and will ultimately edit their animation into video projects in which they themselves enter the story and interact with their animated characters, reminiscent of the work of early animators, such as Max Fleischer, Paul Terry and Walt Disney. The program’s architect, Dr. Nancy-Jo Johnson, chose Flash and Toon Boom Studio software applications for this new course because, “Flash offers accessible drawing and tweening capabilities, while Toon Boom Studio leads students to a higher level with sophisticated drawing tools and 3D camera moves. Not only are both applications integrated, they also enable students to animate on the first day of class! In fact, they have just finished their first animated story on a Halloween theme using Toon Boom Studio character, scenery and prop templates. They need to practice their storytelling skills, but they’re not yet at the character animation level. The Toon Boom Studio templates offer them a jump-start and inspiration to craft their own characters for their end-term project. The students love these programs! They are also learning from the Toon Boom Studio Workout Series, which methodically leads them through complex procedures, making a novice animator look like an expert.” The animation course is successful thus far and has been put on the books for next year.
Image courtesy of Seneca College
Image courtesy of École des Métiers du Cinéma d’Animation
Opened in Jerusalem in 1906, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design is the most prominent academy of Fine Arts, Design and Architecture in Israel. The essence of its impressive achievements lies not only with its history that is spread throughout the landscapes of Israel, but also with the spirit of those who populate the academy. The use of animation in all media is continually expanding. Every day new inventions emerge that make elaborate means and tools for artistic expression available to creators in the field of animation. Bezalel has adopted Toon Boom Studio and Solo to prepare its students for careers in animation, developing their artistic and creative capabilities while maximizing the use of technology.
Seneca College's Animation Arts Centre (AAC) is a wing of the School of Communication Arts under the Faculty of Information Arts and Technology of Seneca College. The AAC specializes in four areas: traditional animation, 3D character animation, 3D game design, and visual effects for film and television. The centre is located on the Seneca York campus in a dedicated facility in the Technology Enhanced Learning Building (TEL) on the York University campus in Toronto, and features state-of-the-art production technology available to students 24-hours a day. Faculty at the AAC consists of world-renowned animation industry professionals. Previous production partnerships involving the AAC include the Academy Award® winning short animated film, Ryan. During the week of October 23, 16 students from the AAC participated in an intensive training workshop on Toon Boom Solo software. The students completed the workshop very excited about the potential of the software for 2D animation production, noting that many of the concepts and operations in Solo act as a good bridge for their training in 3D animation software. Seneca College is looking forward to exploring further potential partnerships with Toon Boom.
Located in Château de Dampierre, Angoulême, France, the École des Métiers du Cinéma d’Animation (EMCA) offers a state-of-the-art animation program that stimulates the students’ creativity and provides them with the technical expertise the market place requires. The curriculum combines the animation techniques training with a personal creative experience that concludes with a film production at the end of the second year. EMCA puts great emphasis on teaching Western and Asian animation styles and on offering hands-on practical production experience throughout the entire process to prepare their students for a career in animation. Two internships in animation studios complete the curriculum to ensure a thorough understanding of production environments. Their animation lab includes both Pegs and Solo to expose students to traditional and digital animation production using the market-leading animation software solutions.
Published on Dec 1, 2006
Toon Boom Animation produces award-winning software to create digital content and animation. Our animation and storyboarding software is use...