We chat with TVPaint Développement CEO, Fabrice Debarge, who highlights the upcoming endeavors for the French company and its ingenious 2D animation software TVPaint Animation, and also introduces the software’s highly-anticipated Android version.
Cartoon Brew: It’s been official for several weeks: at the next Annie Awards, taking place February 3 in Los Angeles, TVPaint Développement will be presented the Ub Iwerks Award, an honor that recognizes “technical advancement that has made a significant impact on the art and industry of animation.” It’s actually the first time ever that a French company is receiving this recognition. How do you feel about that ?
Fabrice Debarge: When we received the letter from ASIFA Hollywood executive director Frank Gladstone, we went through a variety of emotions. We have never lobbied for prizes or awards, so we could barely believe it! Now we know it is for real and we feel ecstatic: it’s a true honor for my team and I to be awarded, especially by ASIFA Hollywood! In Europe, there are no events to reward technologies that have been developed for the industry of animation, cinema, and vfx.
Our team has always done its best to provide an incredible software for traditional animators who want the natural feeling of animating on paper with all the power of modern digital tools. This award confirms we’ve been doing well, and we will continue to do our best to meet our users’ expectations.
Would you like to thank anyone in particular?
Fabrice Debarge: It is tough – there are so many people who’ve been part of our success. Obviously, I would like to thank the original creator of TVPaint technology, Hervé Adam, and the whole TVPaint team. I would like to thank our beta testers, who are a fistful of great international artists with a vast range of experience in animation. I would like to thank all the people who’ve been using TVPaint technology, whether it’s been for decades or just a few weeks, especially the ones who take the time to send feedbacks through emails, our online forum, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Also, a very special thanks to the jury of the ASIFA Hollywood. And last but not least: let’s not forget our friends and families, because they have to deal with our hectic schedules, our stress, and our numerous trips across the world!
Is it stressful to work at TVPaint Développement?
Fabrice Debarge: Well, it’s a humble-size company. We’re only 20 people who manage the software AND support the whole planet. It’s quite complicated to manage several time zones from an office located in France. Opening an office in Japan last year has been very helpful to provide the best services to Japanese animators and their specific needs, but we still have to find a solution for North America. That’s why we are also planning to create an office, either in Canada or in the United States. I can’t say anything more at the moment because it’s still being discussed. But anyone interested in working with us is welcome: feel free to send me your resumes.
TVPaint Animation was named Mirage before. This software was really successful back in the 2000s. Did TVPaint Développement purchase Mirage technology?
Fabrice Debarge: Absolutely not – TVPaint technology has been ALWAYS developed in northeastern France, since 1991! The history is a little bit messy because TVPaint technology has gone by a few different names over the years – TVPaint from 1991-1997, Aura from 1998-2003, and Mirage from 2003-2005 – because it was sold by different distributors.
TVPaint Développement has been fully independent since 2006, after our company was unfairly sued for two years by its very last distributor. It was the worst period for the company, but fighting was worth it. When I look back, I realize how amazing the company’s resilience has been despite some terrible moments. It all began from a program on Amiga with only three drawing tools and a single layer. Now TVPaint Animation is an all-in-one versatile software that works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The next challenge to come? Adapting our technology for iOS!
Ok, you mentioned the Android version, so let’s talk more about this exciting development…
Fabrice Debarge: Of course! The Android version was developed for the first time in 2012. Actually, it was a challenge for Hervé because Android tablets had became pressure sensitive, and Samsung had just released the Galaxy Note phone with a stylus. Not so long after, Wacom released the Cintiq Hybrid using Android, and for us, it was time to adapt TVPaint Animation (version 10 at the time) for this great device.
Unfortunately, the Cintiq Hybrid was not a real success (in comparison with the Windows version), probably because there was a lack of professional solutions, with TVPaint Animation being the only one for Android tablets. So, the Android version of TVPaint Animation was put aside for a few years.
So this Android version is not available anymore?
Fabrice Debarge: Au contraire! We have created a new Android version as an adaptation of TVPaint Animation 11 Professional Edition and it has the same features (including CTG layers).
The philosophy is quite simple: people want to use Android phones and tablets either to sketch storyboards and animation when they are away from their desktop, or to show you what they animated recently. This is why you will be able to save and load only TVPaint .tvpp files with the Android version.
The best news? It is free! Whether you already have a TVPaint license or not, you just have to create an account on the TVPaint website, then download the .apk installer and enjoy TVPaint Animation anytime, anywhere. This became available on December 25.
Any other projects to come?
Fabrice Debarge: I cannot tell you much details, but TVPaint Développement will co-produce another short film to be released next year. Stay tuned!