D’ART Shtajio makes the switch from traditional paper animation to paperless, using Toon Boom’s Animation Software, Harmony, and Storyboard Pro.
Innovation understands that everything can be made more efficient, even if it means reinvention.
“Reinventing the wheel” is considered to be an idiomatic metaphor because of its ironic nature: reinventing something that has already been proven to be perfectly optimized —and yet, we’re constantly improving upon its first iteration. The human archetype is defined by ingenuity and the constant need to create and make better, which is the blueprint for D’ART’s growth.
Anime has been around since the early 1960s, and while the art style has drastically changed over the years, the fundamental cornerstone of the animation process has remained the same: Paper. Every sequence of animation, hand drawn on paper, scanned in, and the process repeated until a cohesive scene is made. A grueling and time-consuming effort traditionally thought to be the only path towards creating authentic looking anime— until now.
The rise of digitalization in the entertainment industry gave birth to a myriad of technological advances aimed at shaping new tools designed to improve workflow and creativity. D’ART recognized the need for innovation in our industry; the need to reinvent and make traditional methods more efficient. Teaming up with Toon Boom Animation to work on our latest project “The Doll” gave us a more, in-depth look into a more effective process without sacrificing traditional, core principles.
We found that by using Toon Boom, not only were our workflow and productivity increased, but by having the ability to experiment with various color palettes, angles, and vector tools, we achieved a new level of creative freedom that yielded a better final product.
A dive into the more technical aspects (and what we loved) about Toon Boom Animation Software below:
Arguably one of the most integral pieces of the pre-production process is Storyboarding. A good Storyboard has all the right components in place to bring a script alive, translating every cue into a real-time visualization of the story; the Storyboard acts as the Skeleton for the rest of the animation to be built upon. The paper process for Storyboarding is tedious and leaves a lot to be desired by leaving a lot up to interpretation and imagination. This is especially true when it comes to Camera movement, as most of the movement is simply written in next to each panel with its corresponding instruction.
Storyboard Pro brings life into every panel by allowing the user (in real-time), to add in these camera movements: Zooms, Holds, and Pans. This aspect of the software is especially useful when translating a Storyboard into an animatic; in fact, pressing play while working in Storyboard Pro automatically runs the panels as an animatic, and gives the option to render the animatic directly from Storyboard Pro into Harmony.
By using Storyboard Pro, we’ve seen just how powerful digital storyboarding can be (no more scanning, yay!) and have drastically improved our pre-production turnaround time because of it.
There are a TON of incredibly useful tools and features found in Harmony, several of which, can also be found in other animation software as well. What really sets Harmony apart is the attention to detail; everything feels more intuitive and thought out. At first, the idea of doing animation paperless felt borderline heretical and the notion of breaking the traditional mold was intimidating but overall, the software was simple to learn and felt completely natural once we got the hang of it.
Drawing In-between animation is our most time-consuming stage of production, as a lot of cleanup is involved to make the animation smooth and consistent. Often, what takes the majority of time is going through and erasing lines that overextend or have gone astray, but Harmony provides a Cutter Tool (our favorite), which allows you to simply cut out little imperfections with one pen-stroke.
Another incredibly convenient feature is the color library, which allows you to save color palettes as they adhere to the scene, e.g. lighting effects, clothing changes, and apply them at any point during the production process. Even if a continuity error was found on the last day of production, or if you’d like to change a character’s shirt throughout the entire animation, you could go and update that color in real time by visiting your color library.
Harmony is a one-stop-shop when it comes to animation, allowing you to directly import Storyboards (from Storyboard Pro Software), and even has built-in effects for compositing (no more exporting/re-exporting).
D’ART has found ingenuity in its integration of Toon Boom Animation Software into each of our subsequent projects and we couldn’t be happier with the result. Keep checking back in, as we’ll be revealing more projects very soon, and if you haven’t already, please watch our original short “The Doll’ — proudly created using Toon Boom’s Storyboard Pro and Harmony Software.