Reallusion’s Pitch & Produce program is designed to support the production of games, films, shorts, shows, simulations, and even live events. The first 2d animation winner of Pitch & Produce was the educational animated short Walter Precipitous, created by Canadian writer Toblerusse and produced by Portuguese studio Toma Creators.
In this article, Toma founder and CEO José “Zez” Vaz explains the Pitch & Produce program from the point of view of a participant, and describes what Reallusion’s Cartoon Animator 5 can bring to the production process.
Hi, I’m Zez. I’m a freelance 2d animator and director from Porto, Portugal, working remotely for over 10 years. I manage a small team of artists at my studio Toma Creators. At the studio, we handle the full production of animated explainers and music videos. Apart from commercial work, I’ve always been involved in personal projects such as creating animated series, podcasts, video games, comics, and more. I use 2d animation to turn my ideas into reality because I know I can do so with the right amount of artistic composition.
Our explainer videos are produced for many industries, and our customers represent all types of goods and services worldwide. Throughout this piece, you can see screenshots of our work. Each partner we work with pitches us a story in less than a minute. Once we nail that down, I use Cartoon Animator to bring the project to life. The first such story on which I used CTA 5 was called Walter Precipitous.
Creating 2d Walter
Walter is a water molecule. He changes forms from solid to liquid to gas, but most of the time we see him as a big-headed droplet. When I first saw CTA’s 360 head rotation tutorial with an Angry Bird sort of character, I knew Walter would look great with this software. I drew some sketches of the characters on an iPad using Procreate, putting them in neutral positions with all the facial features I would need throughout the film. I then moved the drawings to Photoshop, where I added color and prepared the models for CTA.
There are a lot of emotions in Walter’s story, so I created two sets of mouths, one sad and one happy. The Crystal character was animated as a green screen body in CTA which we later turned into this beautiful intricate textured form in post-production using After Effects. The process of creating the characters with Cartoon Animator was fun and quick, and when their models were finished, animating them was a breeze.
Workflow in Cartoon Animator Pipeline
I typically use Procreate to draw my characters and then take them to Photoshop to add the right colors. Once I am done with the 2d character creation, I will move the model to Cartoon Animator for animation. In Walter Precipitous, there are a lot of lip sync movements involved. I know most facial animators, 2d or 3d, can find that troublesome, so I am glad that Cartoon Animator streamlined the process and made facial animation and lip-syncing easier with their intuitive built-in functions.
When I finished with character animations, I brought them to After Effects, a software I was already comfortable with. Most of the background images and post-production were done using that software. This is also when I textured some characters, and I am very pleased that my past experience helped me to make them look more vivid.
Leveraging CTA5’s New Features
Cartoon Animator is already a handy software for both indie and professional animators. With Cartoon Animator 5’s latest update, we were able to utilize many new features and give Walter and Crystal more character. One such feature was the Free-Form Deformation (FFD) effect.
This allowed us to squash and stretch the characters and easily create intricate effects straight out of the classic animation rule book. In our story, Walter is portrayed as a bubbly character with a dream to explore the world. The FFD feature truly helped us to animate Walter with an attitude to match his personality and created more cartoony motions.
Spring Animation Design creates physics that were not possible before. On the project, I used Spring Editor to animate an otter, trying to recreate the bounciness of its tail motion. There are many pre-sets included in CTA 5, and I suggest dragging and dropping them onto your character’s bones to test them out. Reallusion demonstrates some in its tutorials, but sometimes you just have to play with them on your own to find the desired results.
And lastly, CTA’s Vector Graphic files were a big deal for me, since so many of the illustrations I work with are vector designs. This also allows users to import any vector graphics coming from any other online library. Users can also get vector files from Reallusion or find free vector characters embedded in Cartoon Animator 5.
Teamwork Collaboration and Future Plans
Communication is key, especially on bigger projects. Our team has been working together for several years on a number of projects. I know what Mariana (illustrator) and Andre (sound designer) are capable of and their workflow. I know they both often surprise me and push the envelope. Toblerusse, the creator and producer of Walter Precipitous, was a pleasure to work with. He was always understanding and gave us tremendous creative freedom.
Even though Mariana, Andre, and I live in the same city (Porto, Portugal), we mostly worked remotely on this production and we’ve become accustomed to working that way. For communication to flow, I advise surrounding yourself with good people and try being helpful to your co-workers. Everyone involved on Walter was inspired by the story and had something meaningful to add to it. The big lesson was that remote work opened up a world of possibilities and collaborations that weren’t available to us before.
Walter Precipitous was such a blast that the team is determined to keep going! So we’ve created the landing page Walter Teaches Kids for all upcoming materials related to the property. We’re producing more videos about water and science, a Youtube channel that we will be updating regularly, and a Teachers Pay Teachers profile with more educational material. Hopefully, new characters and new short films will emerge from this!
Reallusion Pitch & Produce Program
If you like what you’ve read about our story but need a little help to get your project up and running, consider Reallusion’s Pitch & Produce program, which offers support for projects and pipelines.
A project can be a game, film, animation, simulation, tv show, student film, or even a live event. Winners will get the software, technical, financial, and marketing support for either 2d or 3d pipelines. Simply visit the Reallusion Pitch & Product website, read up on the program, check out past projects, and fill out the form.
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