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Toon Boom’s Sinister Plan?

This past year, I gained great appreciation for creating characters in one project for reuse later in other projects. Toon Boom’s abilities to store characters in libraries allows this. It makes life easier than I ever imagined.

Watch the animation below and then see the explanation.

It used to be that creating animation was a simple act of brute force. You drew a work of art and your drawing lasted all of 1/24th of a second. It was crazy because you expended so much effort and then your work for a single drawing appeared and vanished so fast, you could barely discern the event had even happened. It was nuts, but that is animation!

Then came the television limited animation of the 1950s and beyond. Character motion was limited and animators reused character drawings. It allowed faster productions with less work. It also looked awful and boring.

But Toon Boom has harnessed and enhanced the power to reuse characters. You can also assemble characters with movable parts. Tasks that required redrawing a character, such as subtle changes in body position can now be done with a few clicks of a mouse. The amazing part: It looks high budget!

The power to animate many minutes of cartoon per month is now granted to a single individual animator. It is now possible for one person to do work that would have required a substantial and expensive studio.

This month, I am assisting a group covering CES 2011, the Consumer Electronics Show. Specifically, I make fun of the outlandish hype of the show. This massive exposition showcases the electronic toys and tools you will be enticed to buy over the next couple of years. Most of what appears at this event has incredible fanfare and is called “life changing.” All of the companies promoting their wares and technology invest incredible effort and money on the bet they have “the next big thing.”

The stakes are huge. In many cases, the promotions are not just for a company’s products, but for an entire country’s industry. For a few days, even the standard Las Vegas “over the top” promotion machine looks small compared to the glitz and noise of CES.

So, back to my project: I am here to make fun of it all. I am here to scream , “You guys are a laugh riot!”

I wanted to do this in a way that also used technology and the tools promoted by the spirit of CES. So, I went to the show floor with my tablet PC and Animate Pro from Toon Boom. I also took my USB Microphone (which, by the way, caused a ridiculous amount of commotion in airport security because it looks like a bomb on X-ray) and my Sony Digital Camera with HDTV capability for video clip insertion.

I also brought a cast of characters used in many previous projects used over the years. In fact, almost none of my characters you see in these “CES Updates” were actually created for these projects. Instead, with amazing ease and speed, I pulled them out of other animations and inserted them into different roles for this project. It was fast and easy. It also has allowed me to create six minutes of decent animation in just a few days.

This is my library of characters. They sit on my hard-drive, awaiting their chance to perform in a future animation. Some characters have great potential. Others are a bit boring. Sometimes I change the color of their hair or skin. I might add glasses.

Even their movements can be stored in a library. Orchestrating movement can be a bit tedious with even the best of tools. In Toon Boom Animate Pro, I can reuse movements. It is amazing.

Toon Boom really does allow you to do more for less. If anyone would have told me years ago that I would attempt to be almost “live animating” in the manner that we now accept “live blogging,” I would have thought they were insane. Yet, that is exactly what is happening right now and it is being done by an amateur animator who is a physician in his day job.

This is just so cool!

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