Saturday, 26 September 2009

A Bit of History

This is a project that started, believe it or not, in 1988! A friend, Kevan Goode, and I were trying to come up with an idea for a kids cartoon series that we would have enjoyed when we were kids. The name Horace was chosen as a tribute to my Grandfather. A simple cel animation pilot was completed in 1990. In fact, we even got as far as being offered a contract to produce a series. I find this difficult to believe when viewing the film today! However, for various reasons, we decided to decline the offer. It's a long story!

Recently I had the desire to resurrect the project. The concept and characters have been vastly changed and improved to the point where it`s hardly recognisable as having developed from that cel animation original. I intended to produce the new pilot using Martin Hash's Animation:Master. I created several characters and did many tests in A:M and it was coming along fine. Tragically, Kevan died of a brain tumour just after Christmas 2004 and I lost interest in the project for quite a while.

Despite having lots of idea's that I'd like to pursue I keep coming back to 'Horace'. It's always been very personal to me and I know I've got to get it out of my system at some point and get it done! After finding and experimenting with Anime Studio Pro I made the decision to switch to 2D. There are many reasons for this. Mainly because I think 3D was simply going to take too long to produce. The modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering etc is quite a long process. It's about as easy as it can be in A:M but still time consuming. For instance, A:M is no slouch but one test shot took well over 24 hours to render!

I decided that it was going to be much more practical and economical (especially if we got a commission for a series) to go the 2D route. Kids still love drawn animation and there is a lot of magic in moving drawings that 3D often doesn't seem to capture. Another reason was that after working very long days using Maya in my day job it was becoming increasingly difficult to then continue in the same vein at home.

Below are some of the tests I did in Animation:Master.

Here is a new animation I've almost completed of CHESTA the robot. This time created in Anime Studio Pro of course. This obviously isn't the correct background and Granny will be in the foreground too.

I think that's just about it for this post. I hope to be back sooner next time. If you have any questions or comments please do so using the 'comments' button.

All text and pictures (c) 2009 Dale Hemenway

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Let's Get Started...

This is the first of what I hope will be many posts detailing the production of my animated short film.
I always find it very amusing when people's first question on seeing an impressive piece of work is "What software did you use?"! As if the software was somehow totally responsible =0) I'm not easily impressed by software. I use what I find I get on with and not what happens to be considered 'in vogue' at the time. The software I'm using for animation is Anime Studio Pro. I've tried CelAction, Flash and ToonBoom amongst others but I find AS far more logical and intuitive and therefore it suits my needs better. It's also extremely affordable. Always a good point that =0)
The same can be said for all the software I'm intending to use for my project. So, to start off it seems a good idea to introduce the software in my toolkit.


Celtx is great free software. I'm using it for scriptwriting as it formats scripts correctly. That's not essential if you're working alone but it's good working practice. You can also use Celtx for compiling storyboards, scheduling and overseeing your whole film production.


I use Artrage for quickly sketching all my storyboard panels. It's incredibly easy to use and has all the usual features such as layers as well as some nice natural media brushes. The User Interface is great too!

Video Pro X

I'm using this for compiling all my storyboard panels into an animatic and synching with the soundtrack and also adding sound effects and music where appropriate. Video Pro X will be used for final editing also.

Anime Studio Pro

As previously mentioned, Anime Studio Pro will be used for all the animation. It has the most advanced bone system of any 2D software and the vector points can also be animated after the skeletal animation to enhance the movement if required.

Here you can see bones being added to a character's hand

A character fully rigged in 'front pose'


A nice vector drawing package. I intend using this for most of the backgrounds. I'm going for a fairly flat look which vectors are suited to. Using vectors also means I can enlarge the images to any size without loss of quality.


For final compositing (if I don't do it all in Anime Studio) and effects I will use VisionLab Studio. I've used this on previous projects and it's powerful and easy to use.

This image is from a previous project - a 'proof of concept' for BBC
The animation (manipulation of photo images) was all created in Anime Studio Pro and compositing and certain effects such as light from the window was done in VisionLab
Below is a shot from the finished presentation

Well, that's it for this time. Thanks for following so far. Be back soon......

All text and pictures (c) 2009 Dale Hemenway