Friday, April 01, 2011

Previews Of Some Work I am Doing In Harmony

Here is a clip from a station ID that is airing on Adult Swim.


Elephant Pencil Test, animated by animation giant, Mike Kazaleh

When we first started using Harmony, we animated on paper and scanned it in. This was somewhat helpful in making the transition from what we were used to, to animating completely on the computer.


Elephant Final, tweaked in Harmony

Once some of the paper animation was in Harmony, I wanted to see if I could take the actions further. We stretched and squashed the key poses of this elephant and gave the action more emphasis. Jojo did, anyway.



All those wacky BG color card camera effects were done in Harmony. I painted a bunch of BGs in photoshop and kept elements of them on separate layers. Then I got Alex to move them around and dissolve them over each other in Harmony. We also did all the character colors changing using some Harmony tricks.

CLICK THE PIC TO SEE THE BOUNCES

BOUNCING CLIP

Boy's body on left is one drawing squashed and stretched in Harmony,
Girl Body is traditionally animated
I was experimenting with bounce cycles and wanted to see if I could make a computery bounce look as lively as a straight ahead hand drawn bounce. The boy's body is just one drawing squashed and stretched on a 12x beat in Harmony. It looked flat so I animated some stripes moving up and down around the form of his body and overlapped the up and down action with the body's.
The girl's bounce is more customized and completely drawn, so didn't need extra details to make it feel round. I also overlapped her bounce down with his. Her body squashes 1 frame later and doesn't move up as fast. I didn't want them to look robotically in synch.

MY LONGING FOR A SIMPLE PROGRAM

I have longed for a good computer program that would allow me (and others) to do things that were traditional in animation 70 years ago and have brought ideas to software companies many times. I worked with Flash in the early days and tried to get them to put in an exposure sheet and other handy tools. Instead, they came up with an awkward timeline that is practically unreadable-just a mess of indecipherable black dots.

Many animation software companies have told me over the years that they had exposure sheets, but when I actually went to use them, found out that they just looked superficially like ex sheets but didn't function like them.

What's great about how they used to use ex sheets was the way it gave animation directors control over the timing and pacing of the cartoons. Classic ex sheets are marked off by tempos-different tempos depending on the mood and pace of the scenes. 12x tempo is a moderate pacing. 16x is slow. 8x is fast etc... The directors would then go in and mark the key actions and plan the relative spaces between them rhythmically-as if they were writing a musical score or playing the drums.

Then the animators took the large general timing notes and broke the actions down further, into individual frames.

A couple years ago I suggested to the folks at Toonboom that they add in directors' columns and customizable tempo markers that would allow us to plan out the actions according to rhythms like in the old days. Harmony now has this feature, although it is not quite perfect yet.
It is buried in mysterious hidden menus and it is not completely connected to the timeline, so you have to make your own tempo markers in the timeline, which we do for each project.
The yellow row is a 12x tempo we added to the timeline to match the 12x tempo in the ex sheet.

It would also be nice if the timing in the directors column could be manipulated and reflected in the corresponding animation column at the same time. Right now though, if you make any changes to the timing you have to change them manually in every column and that's hard to keep track of and amounts to doing it all by hand on paper.

But it is still a very handy tool. You just have to stay organized - which is hard to do once you get on a roll and start animating. I have found through trial and error that it is best to start the project with the layers and timing very organized. It's hard to work straight ahead and then go back and put everything in order, which sucks for me because I like to just get in there and start drawing and hate to have to break a creative flow-which happens all the time because of technical confusions.

CAN HARMONY BRING BACK TRADITIONAL ANIMATION?

Maybe. and I don't just mean hand-drawn when I say "traditional"; I mean all the fundamental atoms of classic animation that have largely been lost since the 60s.

First, there has to be a generation of cartoonists who want to animate and move things in customized, yet controlled ways. - where the way things look and move is a fundamental part of the entertainment, not just an afterthought or a vehicle to mouth inane dialogue written by non-artists.

I think the basic tools are there and am hoping that I get to work with some programmers to take them even further and to make them more artist-friendly and obvious.

The best things about Harmony so far are:

1) Good drawing tools.
This is huge.
If you do not fear drawing, then Harmony is quantum leaps ahead of Flash. Flash is sort of geared for people who can't draw and are comfortable hiding behind all the technical tricks. Harmony might give actual artists back their rightful place at the top of the animation heap. Maybe - if other factors also go our way.

The Harmony brushes are much smoother and more accurate than the tortuously disobedient and ragged Flash brushes.

They take a bit of getting used to but after some practice, you can draw and animate almost clean - and with thick and thin lines.

2) Instant playback - allows you to learn faster

You can play back your animation instantly and loop cycles and make modifications quickly. (It'd be great if the loop function also worked when you were inbetweening and connecting a cycle, but they haven't thought of that yet I guess. I'll suggest it to them).

In the 1930s when animators were on their fastest learning curve, they didn't have this advantage at all. They had to shoot pencil tests and then wait at least a day to see what they did. If it looked crummy, they'd have to go back and try to figure out how to improve it by trial and error.

Most studios didn't even do pencil tests, so animators had to sometimes wait months to see what they did and whether it worked or not. Even with this disadvantage animators improved themselves and the whole medium faster than at any point in history since. How did they do it?

They were smarter and more logical about the process. They animated everything to tempos and thus knew that their actions would play rhythmically and would that important actions would have emphasis and relate to each other.

Classic animators also learned the art from the ground floor up. They didn't start as storyboard artists or designers being completely ignorant of how animation actually works.

An artist would start by cleaning up and inbetweening the work of a more experienced animator and gradually absorb his skills. If he was good, he might become a full-fledged animator on his own and then add add his own style and touches. Other animators in turn would benefit from each other's progress. This doesn't happen anymore.

THEY ANIMATED HERE-we need a program that allows this to happen again. I think Harmony could do it if it continues to evolve and gets easier to use.

Most animation today is done either overseas on a soulless assembly line or in Flash by moving around puppet drawings. Not very many people today ever have the opportunity to learn how animation really works. Many people think you make animation by writing a script and then sending it to Korea and waiting for 6 months it to come back moving as if by magic. Then everyone pats themselves on the back and says "See what we made?" When they didn't actually make anything. They just vaguely described something and commanded someone in another land to make it for them.

I'll tell you the only thing Flash is good for. It expands your vocabulary. It's like the Rosetta Stone of cursing.

3) Ex Sheets with tempo markers

Having tempo markers in Harmony's ex sheets allows you to pre-plan your actions so that they feel good. This helps you learn timing faster than the classic animators ever could have. To me, the beat is every bit as important to animated cartoons as it is to music. it's part of the structure and emphasis of the art. Without a beat, you just have meandering mushy actions, each as unimportant as the next.

4) Combining Traditional With Digital Techniques

Whereas Flash tends to guide you towards sliding puppets around the screen, Harmony is more versatile. You can jump back and forth between hand-drawn animation and computer tricks while disguising the computer tricks so they look less robotic than in Flash.

5) Inking and Painting

Inking and Painting is pretty easy in Harmony.

You can do colored lines quickly and you can later change the color of a line or fill on a character all in one shot. You don't have to go and individually recolor every single frame.

I wish they had a separate ink and paint program just so I could farm out the clean up and coloring of the cartoons to artists who want to work their way up the creative food chain. Maybe that will come next - a junior harmony program, for apprentices.

If that existed we could have virtual studios around the world and directors with individual styles could have a much larger talent pool to work with. As readers of my blog know, I have many young cartoonists from all over who have a feel for cartoony styles like mine and who practice by inking and cleaning up my rough drawings. It would be great if I could hire them to help me do these projects and not have to up and move to LA at huge expense (and overhead for the studio).

It would also be a way for cartoonists and animators to learn the important fundamental skills on the job again.

As it is now they'd have to have Harmony (along with Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter and all the other big programs they probably have already) and if they get the big package with all the bells and whistles, it'd pretty challenging to figure out what's what right off the bat.

But I'm hoping these things will come and that we will again have a thriving evolving artform that also values a diversity of styles and approaches rather than the handful of corporate assembly line animated products we have today.

HARMONY'S WEBSITE


I'd be curious to know your experiences if you are animating in Harmony. You probably know some tricks I haven't discovered yet.

72 comments:

akira said...

awesome!!! john thanks for posting up this stuff, i've been dying to see what you're working on! your animal designs and locomotion ideas are so great but IT'S JUST TOO SHORT! after seeing this i have to say that even better than your design and movement ideas are your dialog and acting and story pacing etc. which this just made me miss... i want to know what happens to and between these characters... i hope somebody wises up fast and pays you a crapload of money to force you to make a half hour show again and to continue making them forever.

A Koszis said...

Just a quick question:
Harmony seems to be for animation studios or groups of animators like you. What's the animation program that I should start on since I can't have access to (and probably can't even afford) the Harmony program?

Steven M. said...

Theres hope yet for animation!

Trevor Thompson said...

Did you try Flipbook before going to Harmony?

JohnK said...

No, have you?

Isn't that just a pencil test program?

Lavalle Lee said...

wow john thank you for this post! great animation

is toon boom studio anything like toon boom harmony?

so knowing some studio might help with working with harmony?

Trevor Thompson said...

It can be used for pencil tests, but it can do everything.

You can animate on paper or straight into the computer. I've seen full shorts made with it.

Thiago Levy said...

When I was in college Harmony / Toonboom came over to present their program. This was back in 2006 and I remember the program being virtually useless. Very far form traditional animation. Let me tell you they improved a lot! On a side note, I am tired of Miami business I am moving to LA ASAP!

Chris_Garrison said...

There's lots of beautiful stuff in this post, and I think it's great that you're discussing this side of things. Thanks for getting into this stuff.

Regarding the elephant cycles -- Although I can see why, in the color one, his movement has been intensified, I prefer the movement of the pencil version. In the color version, it's so crazy that I can't get a bead on where his features are or just what he looks like. I can't see that fast! In the b&w one, I enjoy watching the fluid movement of his tail ... and just everything about him.

I've noticed, though, that my wife can see faster than I can. If something's on screen for 2 frames, she'll probably see it, and I'll miss it. But which of us is the more typical viewer?

dshreve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corey said...

I've used Harmony for close to 4 years now, I know lots about it, though I have issues with the software it is leagues beyond Flash in terms of the control you have. My biggest beef is the pricetag.

ardy said...

Awesome Post! I kinda got chills when I read you tried to improve the Flash timeline in the early days. If only they had listened.

Also, you should really consider using .gifs to show these walk cycles. They animate on the page and loop forever. Check out how fun it looks.

The Nerdy Duo said...

Thank you so much for the peek into your process.
I completely understand your distaste for Flash. After years of fumbling with it, I just can't quite get it to do what I want, not like I can with After Effects.
I have had very good results with bringing back the natural feel of an analog worlkflow with Toon Boom and a tablet pc. Harmony seems to be very similar both in interface and functionality.

The Nerdy Duo said...

ah, I see after reading other comments more closely that Harmony and Toon Boom are the same thing.

Mak said...

But the BIG question is...

Does it work in Linux? :o

Kevin Schmit said...

In my opinion, and most other people I know who have tried it, TVpaint is the best program for traditional hand-drawn animation because it was specifically designed by animators for traditional animation. It takes some time to get past the interface though, which is pretty intimidating and unintuitive to start with, but you learn fast. It's pretty heavily used in France and is slowly growing in popularity in North America. These were some student films done in TVPaint:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKI3hKDHKTA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTbM0H3IyqE&feature=more_related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-GPEi-24ek&feature=more_related

yooghen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Merks said...

I was thrown onto a production using harmony doing puppetry style/flash sort of stuff. It was interesting(and restricting) using the IK but we had an 80second a week footage requirement so all I had time to do is push buttons and hope something animated happened.

After the show finished we had some free time to play with it and use all the effects modules that do some nice glows, blurs. You can create quite interesting lighting setups. I started getting used to using the brush tools and doing some straight ahead and quite liked the cleaner (than flash) look.

I've bought myself a copy of toonboom Animate pro and it's mostly the same as harmony (maybe sans the linked network that we had to run on linux machines) it does feel like the animation program to bring drawing back.

Here's a video by a friend who animated the effects straight into harmony and got some great results.
http://vimeo.com/8007253

Damiano D said...

Neat stuff! I was wondering what you were doing nowadays. Thanks for the lesson in exposure sheets!

Nicholas said...

I'd also recommend TVPaint.

It's built specifically for hand drawn animation, has great drawing tools and is very customizable.

It also has a keyboard shortcut for flipping the frames around the current frame you're on ( w on my computer) and a peg hole register (for lining up any scanned in drawings).

It uses raster drawing tools (like photoshop, artrage or corel painter) rather than vector ( like flash, illustrator or toonboom).

JohnK said...

I probably wouldn't like the brush tools if they are raster. You couldn't zoom in on them without losing the smooth edges.

and how do you paint the fills if the lines are anti-aliased?

Harmke said...

I think TB Harmony is ment for studios and TB Animate (pro) is for individual animators. When I started making my graduation animation, I wasn't looking forward to work with Flash (nightmares! the horror!). So I did some research and ended up with TB Animate. Finally a program I can both ink and animate!

I wish Harmony becomes compatible with Animate (and the other way around), so I can ink for you John!

If you like, you can see how my graduation animation is doing here

Trevor Thompson said...

I forgot to mention the other thing about Flipbook is if you draw with paper, it's got an automatic peg hole aligner so characters don't float. Plus, the brushes are vector and have a nice variety of thicknesses and thins ( and for really thin line work the pencils can get pretty small too ).

You can even paint full backgrounds in it, or you can draw a simple background to animate over for rough positioning, etc., and then import it into any drawing / painting program and finish it there.

Basically, there's about three different ways to do everything on that program.

kurtwil said...

JK, fills to anti-aliased lines are possible if the software knows to slightly expand the fill area so that the fill goes over or (better) under the line. Toon Boom does this very well. However, to this day, there are few bit map programs including Photoshop that can do this simple fill operation (we were arguing for it back in the '90's while painting our stuff in Australia).

Btw, Flipbook is a bit map program.

It's surprising Harmony does not allow remote collaboration outside an immediate local network, given Harmony's a networked environment offering a supervisor the ability to monitor the production within an entire studio.
I suspect Toon Boom's very aware of interest in remote collaboration and eventually will give Harmony the ability to link with off site artists using another Toon Boom product such as Animate Pro or even Studio. The folks at Toon Boom are very interested in artists comments and hopefully they are listening to you!

A Koszis, if you wish to start animating with Toon Boom software, Toon Boom Studio is a good mid level program. They also have simpler programs available.

JohnK said...

"
It's surprising Harmony does not allow remote collaboration outside an immediate local network, "

Tell me about it! It's bizarre.

JohnK said...

Trevor can you put a link to a film you made in Flipbook so I can see all these techniques?

Tom said...

Really great to hear your perspective on Toon Boom/Harmony, and particularly enjoyed the comment about Flash being the Rosetta Stone of curse words. I teach a college Toon Boom Studio class here in NYC, and feel that their whole suite is a godsend and a great interface for introducing traditional animation.

Trevor Thompson said...

My computer was stolen in a robbery in November, so everything I've done is gone. I'm using a friend's laptop until I have enough to buy another one.

Here's a few shorts I found on YouTube as well as a few of the online tutorials I watched that convinced me to try it.

THE STRANGE CREATURE

ALLEY CAT ANIMATION

Here's an entire YouTube playlist of animations and commercials made with FlipBook.

And lastly, here's the page where you can look at the tutorials. They're about ten minutes apiece and they basically cover one or two areas of production each.

Tutorials

What the tutorials DON'T cover, however, are some of the other things it can be used for like storyboarding, animatic production, lip sync, and rough to clean-up. But you might be able to find some additional tutorials about these subjects on YouTube.

Hope that helps!

Nicholas said...

Yea, the lines do look less smooth when you zoom in beyond 100%
I usually work with a high pixel count (say 1920*1080 pixels for widescreen) so a full screen drawing space is at about 40% zoom. Then I can zoom into 100% before I lose any definition. It takes up more space and computer power though (my 3 year old laptop manges it fine for what I do).

You can get perfect fills pretty easily but you have to adjust the settings to suit you line style. Usually after you've adjusted them once, all the other drawings in an animation sequence will fill perfectly with one click.

For TVPaint there is a great tutorial for fills onthis page (the one titled how to animate color etc).

I agree though, being able to zoom without a loss of detail and no messing around with the fill settings are great advantages. I also like how you can change line thicknesses and smoothing after the fact in vector.

I just feel that raster drawing tools give me so much more subtle control than vector. They just act a lot more like real pencils and pens.

I can almost always tell when vector software has been used to create an image, but I often can't tell the difference between raster and real world media images (or at least it is a lot less obvious).

Pablo said...

every day more deformed, I love it!

Elana Pritchard said...

Thanks for sharing this. Since moving to LA I have been scrounging up equipment so I can put together some kind of studio setup of my own. My plan was to do pencil drawings, scan, and then use Final Cut Pro to put it all together- but it's not really an animation program, although it can be used for that.

I was over at Jim's the other nite with another jr. cartoonist and we watched a speech Ralph Bakshi did on youtube. I don't know if you've seen it (I included a link below), but basicallly he says, "Why go work at some stupid f'n studio on a terrible film you hate? The technology exists now so everyone can make films. If you're young, go starve for a year or two and do it." I was all drunk shouting AMEN! at the screen like a crazy lady. But it's so true!

Now the problem is... can people work together independently of a major studio? A few years back at first I was like, "of course they can, duh!". But now, after trying in many different parts of the country to gather up a crew of people who want to work together, I am finding it near impossible. Either people are too competitive and want to run everything, or they are lazy, or socialy retarded/ scared of women, and therefore do not want to work with me. Now that we have all of this technology, let's take advantage of it, and not become corporate wage slaves for the rest of our lives.

Grow a pair everyone!

If you don't care what I have to say, listen to Ralph Bakshi

A Koszis said...

Thanks Kurtwil for letting me know which toonboom program I should look into as a animation beginner/poor college student with no cash. And thanks all the other people in the comments section here for the other program recommendations too.

Trevor Thompson said...

Amen, Elana! Good luck getting a studio together.

victor said...

Hey John, have you ever looked at TVPaint? It has Xsheets in there (although I do not know if it is the one you need), and what I cherish the most it is a pixel based program rather then vector based like Flash and toon-boom.

Matzi said...

WOW, INCREDIBLE! Keep learning us these things! Thanks

Pedro Vargas said...

Wow, amazing!! Love those cycles, and the amoeba kid is amazing! I couldn't stop looking at each fame to see how he moves. Genius work! There's so much stuff I have to learn it's ridiculous! I seriously have to get this program. Thanks for the info!

Elana Pritchard said...

Thanks Trevor. We have been blog friends for sooo long :)

Connor Sims said...

Hey John, could you post some examples of your Ex sheets and how they work? I'd love to see them in action

JohnK said...

I did. They're in the post.

And also in others labeled "timing to beats"

daniel trejo said...

john,
you should watch the link that kevin schmit posted, it reminded me of you, in fact its this one here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKI3hKDHKTA

i wonder where this animator end up , and why they dont continue doing the same for tv cartoons?
i mean the timming could be a bit better but overall it is one funny well done cartoon.

Erik B said...

Hey John i actualy make my animation in tv paint too.
If you want a high quality you can double the screen size, for excample:
1024 x 576 to 2048 x 1152.

If you want to collor fill object/ characters you have in the bucket tool an option for expand and range so you can fill the whole darn thing.

I fill the colour in, in the layer under the lineworks of my character
the bucket tool has an option that makes it possible to choose that it will fill between the lines of the front layer. So you can colour under the line work. Hopes my explaination made sense :P

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQKYyQ6rTQI

here is something i am working on and made in tvpaint.Still a lot of work to do tough :P

Allyn said...

I used harmony on one job but it was mostly puppet style 2d, I could see it had the potential to do more but unfortunately I never got the chance to that it further

Amblagar Studio said...

hey John, have you tryed anime studio pro, it´s quite easy to learn and lets you animate distroting shapes with nodes in a very smooth way...

J C Roberts said...

Wow. So glad I invested in the Adobe Production Premium suite (including Flash) just before the economy helped wiped out my savings. Always on the wrong side of the fence, it seems. The Toon Boom franchise has certainly blossomed into a multi-tiered and confusing mass of different products.

I can still get enough functionality out of it to get what I need done for my own projects. It's just one more thing that'll keep me at a distance from being part of an actual creative team (location, age, and the state of the industry weren't enough, I guess).

I suppose there still have to be limiting factors to keep down the amount of wanna-be animation creators in the mainstream industry. There just aren't enough projects being done to support the amount of talented individuals who want in. It's like 1000 seagulls fighting over the same french fry. Most of us will just keep circling over the shore until we drop out of the sky.

The one feature that would really be useful in an animation program is a time machine that sends the user back to the 1930's or 40's when there was still a decent outlet for good cartoons (or at least sends me back to my own childhood so I can switch to dreaming about sorting mail and processing packages instead. At least I know I'd be able to live up to THAT lofty goal...)

William said...

I just finished learning ToonBoom Studio (which I bought about a year ago, and got 'hired' to make something -- I learned very fast) and am in the process of Learning Animate 2 Pro, which I got last fall for a good deal ;)
The interface on Harmony looks very similar to Animate

William said...

By the way, about the TVP comment:
Pros:
1) It can identify lines
2) It has neat effects
Cons:
1) Relying on effects = bad idea
2) Clunky bitmap drawings

Logan Ilczyszyn said...

JK, you mentioned you painted some of the bgs in photoshop, I was wondering how you choose to go about doing that, iI've tried to figure out how to do traditional bgs in photoshop but they never quite hit the mark like a actual painted bg would. If you ever want to share how your process goes, I would love to see it.

-Logan

MistahB said...

If Adult Swim is going to accept you show (I don't know if it did pardon me) then I can't wait for it to come out! I also don't find Flash THAT frustrating I mean I sort of used it for a year now and I'm kinda used to it. Although I'm still exploring how animation works in a logical sense so I might have to look in to it more.

BlakeJ said...

Great post, John! These are some great drawings, and I really like how you are using 30's style rubber-hosey walk cycles! Also, nice Hook there, he's a lot taller than I remember though, what's up with that?

Carmine said...

Really cool stuff. Thanks for sharing it with us :). It's been a while since I watched Adult Swim, is there anything even worth watching on it anymore? I mean, aside from your stuff.

michaelamos said...

Hey John!

This looks awesome! I was very excited to see what you were up to when we got a little sneak peak at your house before we went out for dinner - but great to see it animated and in color.

I preferred the pencil test of the elephant when I first watched it, but once I saw him moving to the music - I really like the bouncy version even more. The cuts and editing is spot on to the beat which is so nice to see.

Really looking forward to seeing more.
Michael

Chris said...

Great! Technology doesn't have to take a dump on traditional animation after all!

Nick said...

fefef

Archie said...

Hey John! My t-shirt and signed drawing from slabs fist
just arrived!

K-T said...

Woah it's nice seeing some new work from you, John! I've been longing for some Kricfalusi animation for a while.

Jonas M. Jensen said...

I'm gonna join the Tv-Paint choir! I've worked on two short films using tv-paint, and I will recommend it to anyone interested in hand DRAWN animation. Very easy, toons of features, and very very customisable! Do yourself a favor and try it out :)

SoleilSmile said...

I love your virtual studio idea. Why can't more producers realize that an artist doesn't need to live in LA full-time to be an effective member of the crew?
I'm going to invest in Harmony within the year anyway, but it would be great if more studios were like Sesame Workshop who does not mind that that an artist prefers to work off-site, in another state, where it's cheaper to live and HAPPIER.

Daniel Szilagyi said...

John,
i've done some TV animation for a show using Harmony in Vancouver BC and it's handy but has some annoying features i found.

Little things like having the mouse icon be in the right window when you edit something, having to click into about two windows to get into "drawing" mode

It's for sure leaps beyond flash, but like anything if a person has become used to the workflow and can work within the limited and often annoying features of flash they won't switch over unless they need to

I agree it's a great program, you have a full studio within it, from camera, comp and DIP all in one

Rep's are idiots though, and clearly don't understand animation...i remember them mentioning the "great" auto lipsync feature...

David Nethery said...

Hi, John,

Many thanks for the detailed rundown on how you're using Harmony.

Some other people referenced TVP Animation (aka TVPaint). I also like TVP a lot.

This recent Gobelins school short "Jean Luc" was made using TVP Animation (among several other recent ones from Gobelins). A few people already referenced it , but here's the direct link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKI3hKDHKTA

(by the way, for anyone posting links to something on YouTube , by using some simple HTML tags you can make it a live, clickable hyperlink. See here:

How to Post a Hyperlink in Blogger Comments )

I know it's faster to do batch flood fill ink & paint in a vector app like ToonBoom, but I really prefer the drawing tools in TVP to the vector drawing tools in Flash (bleh - terrible) or ToonBoom (better, but not as good as TVP).

I've read about some people doing their rough animation in TVP , then importing the drawings to ToonBoom to vectorize , doing the vector clean-up layer in ToonBoom and then all the flood fill painting in ToonBoom.

Although TVP's flood fill and other digital ink & paint tools work fine. Just not quite as fast for mass production as ToonBoom. But for me the drawing and painting tools for animating are so much nicer in TVP.

There's a bunch of stuff made with TVP posted here:

TVP Animation Examples

And on the official TVP Gallery page on TVP's website.


I haven't really delved into Harmony because it's too expensive for an individual user like me. I got to briefly use a demo version of Harmony a few years ago , but it was time-limited demo and I never really got to explore it . The interface of Harmony kind of overwhelmed me. Very complicated and confusing (although I've heard the same rap against TVP by people using it for the first time , so I guess it's about whatever you're familiar with) . I hear that ToonBoom Animate Pro is supposed to be the single-user license version of ToonBoom Harmony , so I wonder if Harmony files can be opened up in ToonBoom Animate Pro , if you wanted to do what you were describing about farming out clean-up or ink & paint work to remote artists working for you in a "virtual studio" situation. The remote users could have ToonBoom Animate Pro as a "Harmony-Lite". But maybe it doesn't work like that ?

Even though I prefer TVP for a lot of reasons , I think I need to get to know Harmony because a lot of big studios seem to use it. I appreciate you posting the detailed information about how you're using it in your work.

-DN

Syn said...

John, you should really try out TVPaint. Its in bitmap, so those pesky vectors are out of the way. It has a very cool XSheet module, auto peg alignments, its pretty ductile. I love how computer traditional animation makes everything shorter by bypassing many capture instances. I can just make my pencil test right on the program, check it by pressing space, correct it, check it again, and then go straight to inking.
Photographing pencil tests was really time consuming.

To answer the question you made before about filling in a bitmap program, i think that you just expand the fill a little bit, while asking it to paint on behind.

Also thanks a lot for sharing your pipeline and way of work. I haven't visited the blog in a while, and im happy its still this alive.

Love from argentina!

David Nethery said...

@kurtwil -

You mentioned:

"fills to anti-aliased lines are possible if the software knows to slightly expand the fill area so that the fill goes over or (better) under the line. Toon Boom does this very well. However, to this day, there are few bitmap programs including Photoshop that can do this simple fill operation."

Actually that's exactly how TVP Animation handles flood fill painting. It has adjustable options for Expand and Range and it can paint in Behind mode (under) , so the lines are on a separate layer from the fill color underneath, therefore if the colors need to be changed they can be changed simply by selecting a different fill color from the palette and clicking on the previously painted area , but it doesn't mess up the line art layer.

Sorry, I don't mean to sound like I'm trying to build up arguments for a "ToonBoom vs. TVP" superiority contest. Both softwares have their strong points and weaknesses. The options we have nowadays for animation are amazing . (remember when all that was available were packages like $7,000 dollar seats of ANIMO ? ... what individual could afford that ?) It's just that a lot of people in North America don't seem to have heard much about TVP because it's made by a smaller French software company and I think it's good for people to know all the options that are out there.

Trevor G. said...

TV Paint

I've pretty much tried them all and I found TB to be the most fully features but there was program called TV paint that felt sort of like you were actually animating, it had a button to instantly remove blue pencil (or whatever color you decided to shoot down) The drawing tools were interesting I think it was bitmap.

It had settings for NTSC PAL, and so on, and could convert your animation to I think pretty much every popular format that is out there. But this was a few years ago, if they improved that program it may actually be worth your time to take a look.

The only thing I remember not liking about it is I don't think there was a way to improve the resolution, I could be wrong, and I don't think you would like the timing chart, I believe it was more like Flash in that area.

I hear a lot of people recommend Flipbook but I think that's only good if you have a lot of traditional equipment and you do most of the work before you hit the program.

For features I've never used anything that has more options than the Toonboom family.

PAP Is sort of fun for working out your poses, pose to pose, if you wanted 'free paper' sort of thing, it has a nice light table from what I remember and you can work out your roughs with it if you can stomach working on a screen instead of on paper.

I've never found any of the animation programs to have a good 'art' program/engine. If they could combine the power of Painter, Photoshop, and say ToonBoom but with a better exposure sheet you'd got it made in the shade.


If you pitch the above idea to a company and make any money by the way, send me five dollars and a JohnK doodle (at the very least) for the trouble, thank you lol

David Nethery said...

[ I had tried posting this comment earlier, but it didn’t show up along with my other post responding to kurtwil.
Trying again. ]

-------

Hi, John,

Many thanks for the detailed rundown on how you are using Harmony.

Some other people have mentioned TVP Animation (aka TVPaint). I also like TVP a lot.

This recent Gobelins school short "Jean Luc" was made using TVP Animation (among several other recent ones from Gobelins). A few people already referenced it , but here's the direct link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKI3hKDHKTA

(by the way, for anyone posting links to something on YouTube , by using some simple HTML tags you can make it a live, clickable hyperlink. See here:

How to Post a Hyperlink in Blogger Comments )

I know it's faster to do batch flood fill ink & paint in a vector app like ToonBoom, but I really prefer the drawing tools in TVP to the vector drawing tools in Flash (bleh) or ToonBoom (better, but not as good as TVP).

I've read about some people doing their rough animation in TVP to take advantage of the better drawing tools , then importing the drawings to ToonBoom to vectorize , doing the vector clean-up layer in ToonBoom and then all the flood fill painting in ToonBoom.

Although for me TVP's flood fill and other digital ink & paint tools work fine. Just not quite as fast for mass production as ToonBoom. But for me the drawing and painting tools for animating are so much nicer in TVP.

There's a bunch of stuff made with TVP posted here:

TVP Animation Examples

And on the official TVP Gallery page on TVP's website.


I haven't really delved into Harmony because it's too expensive for an individual user like me. I got to briefly use a demo version of Harmony a few years ago , but it was time-limited demo and I never really got to explore it . The interface of Harmony kind of overwhelmed me. Very complicated and confusing (although I've heard the same rap against TVP by people using it for the first time , so I guess it's about whatever you're familiar with). ToonBoom Animate Pro is supposed to be the single-user license version of ToonBoom Harmony , so I wonder if Harmony files can be opened up in ToonBoom Animate Pro , if you wanted to do what you were describing about farming out clean-up or ink & paint work to remote artists working for you in a "virtual studio" situation. The remote users could have ToonBoom Animate Pro as a "Harmony-Lite". But maybe it doesn't work like that ?

Even though I prefer TVP for a lot of reasons , I think I need to get to know Harmony because a lot of big studios seem to use it. I really appreciate you posting the detailed information about how you're using it in your work.

-DN

Alex said...

I like the simplicity of Digicel Flipbooks interface but it feels too barebones to get much done.

TV Paint is a never ending rabbit hole of tedious things that get in the way and things to bare in mind while working on even a rough timing pass thru. I liked the idea of the program more than the execution, despite seeing some amazing shorts done with it.

For my money Toon Boom products have been making leaps and bounds fixing their bugs in the last few years,making them the most artist friendly while still being deep and capable of amazing effects with a little knowledge in the interface.

my school taught us using US Animation Opus, which evolved into Toon Boom Harmony/ Digital/ Animate. I personally think that toon booms highlight is the fact that the colors are endlessly able to be tweaked and those changes take affect anywhere that color is used in the scene.

It is possible to use it outside of your small network, and outsource coloring and such, it's just a pricey leap. Digital pro (now Aminate Pro) lets you do that. And Toon Boom Storyboard Pro is essentially another animation program, slightly watered down, but it's so intuitive that you can get you entire animatic done in that program and just bring it right into Animate and just polish it.

OK, my personal favorite Flash animator, Adam Philips jumped ship to Toon Boom about a year ago and I was so happy because I'd been just driving myself crazy trying to find in depth tutorials that didnt rely entirely on puppet based stuff. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have IK at your disposal but too many Flash animators used it as a crutch to get sloppy stuff done.

Adam Philips (who was an effects animator at Disney for 12 years) has a whole youtube account full of tutorials and walk throughs that show how you can use both pose to pose and puppets in moderation and make things look shiny as possible. I HIGHLY reccomend that you look through this guys work John, his knowledge of the coloring system is so enlightening.
(this is his steam channel, where you can see him working in real time on specific shots and it's helpful to hear him breaking down why he does the choices he does)
http://www.livestream.com/bitey
(his youtube channel has about 20 or so introductory Toon Boom tutorials, a great place to start or just find out new approaches to the interface)
http://www.youtube.com/user/chluaid

p.s. Mr. K, I'm an amazingly huge fan/humbled follower of your work. If you have the time here's a link to my crappy portfolio website, I'd love some feed back/ info on how to get a damn JOB!!!

K-T said...

John, that music used in the Spumco Critters video has been haunting me forever! Can you please tell where you obtain such music?

Lemos said...

Hey John,

Toon Boom over Anime Studio?

Nicole said...

I'm one of those flash cowards you mentioned. Hiding behind my crisp-crasp badly smoothed out Brush drawings in flash. yeah, I'm a ashamed-- I've stopped using vector illustration as a crutch and've been working on my pen/ink, brush and ink skills. It's a relief. I feel like the brush tool was a lot LESS wild in Flash's Macromedia days-- before "smoothing". The range of "smoothing" in the newer programs is balls rank. Would you like your drawings to look like jagged, wobbly garbage, or oversmoothed garbage?

Lemme tell you-- Adobe's shoved their dick into too many holes. They transmogafied Flash into an annoyingly complex program post CS3-- making it a fake after effects, 'bonetool' animating whore house. It's frustrating watching them add more and more miscellaneous "features" (shit) no one asked for. Sucks even harder that older versions are rendered obsolete every goddamn year.

Rant aside, I've been very sluggishly transitioning to toonboom. But it kind of hurts to suck so hard at it. How long have you been do daddling in Toonboom John? Was your learning curve as humpbacked as mine?

Andrés Sanhueza said...

I haven't used it, but "Toon Boom Pencil Check Pro" looks to be a "separate ink and paint" program, compatible with the other products (don't seems to add any new feature, yet is very affordable).

Josh Wedlake said...

Thought of your post here when designing my humble online line tester on Pass the Flipbook. I don't understand why everyone shys away from horizontal dope sheets so much, and why a real dope sheet is nowhere to be seen in 3D applications!

Carlos E. Mendez said...

Hello All,

I learning to use Animate Pro. Does anyone Know how to create a drawing then create a key drawing without the software adding inbetween drawings or held drawings. When I create key drawings I have to delete the held drawings the software creates. Thought maybe someone knows a work around.

Sim Marriott said...

I animate commercials using Animate Pro. I started out as an illustrator using Photoshop and illustrator. When I got into animation, I started using Flash. When I upgraded to Animate Pro (Then Digital Pro) I was AMAZED with the drawing tools! If only I could output images for illustration projects (which frequently cross over in advertising), ToonBoom would surely clean up Half Adobe's market share, and their grip on the creative industries. To be fair - Adobe products - esp Photoshop and After Effects are outstanding - But Animate Pro is very special indeed... Good to know that you rate it too, John...

Sim Marriott said...

I animate commercials using Animate Pro. I started out as an illustrator using Photoshop and illustrator. When I got into animation, I started using Flash. When I upgraded to Animate Pro (Then Digital Pro) I was AMAZED with the drawing tools! If only I could output images for illustration projects (which frequently cross over in advertising), ToonBoom would surely clean up Half Adobe's market share, and their grip on the creative industries. To be fair - Adobe products - esp Photoshop and After Effects are outstanding - But Animate Pro is very special indeed... Good to know that you rate it too, John...