An­i­mate to Har­mony: The In­de­pen­dent An­i­ma­tor’s Guide to Toon Boom

Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame - By Adam Phillips [Fo­cal Press, $45]

Whether you’re a vet­eran of tra­di­tional an­i­ma­tion look­ing to up­grade your skills or a tech­savvy in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tor look­ing to get the most out of your tools, An­i­mate to Har­mony is a thor­ough and de­fin­i­tive ref­er­ence. Adam Phillips walks read­ers through the process of cre­at­ing 2D an­i­ma­tion us­ing the Toon Boom pro­grams An­i­mate, An­i­mate Pro and Har­mony. Since the user in­ter­face is uni­form across all three, the book al­lows users of any of those ap­pli­ca­tions to learn some­thing new, whether they’re try­ing it out for the first time or look­ing for tips when tran­si­tion­ing from one to the other. The book is ex­ten­sively il­lus­trated and of­fers ex­er­cises for read­ers to test their skills with. This is a no-non­sense book that, for an ex­tremely rea­son­able price, is worth it for any­one who works — or wants to work — with the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar Toon Boom soft­ware.

Adapt­ing the story also had its chal­lenges, es­pe­cially since the novel is told in the form of an es­say Tip writes to be put in a time capsule and opened a hun­dred years in the fu­ture. Writ­ers As­tle and Ember had ex­ten­sive cred­its writ­ing and pro­duc­ing TV comedies be­fore team­ing up to write the fea­ture film comedies Fail­ure to Launch and Get Smart, as well as Blue Sky Stu­dios’ Epic.

“One of the first big break­throughs was re­al­iz­ing the en­tire book takes place in the U.S., and it some­what lim­its the scope of what is a world­wide alien in­va­sion,” John­son says. “The idea that we would take this around-the-world jour­ney was very much im­posed upon the book, and it was one of the im­por­tant things in get­ting it to screen, too. I think Jeffrey Katzen­berg and (for­mer DreamWorks chief cre­ative of­fi­cer) Bill Da­m­aschke all said it makes more sense for us to make a movie for a global mar­ket­place that takes place on a global scale.”

Com­ing up with an ap­peal­ing char­ac­ter de­sign for Oh, as well as the idea of hav­ing Ri- Hav­ing worked with the real Lopez on Antz, John­son cast her as Tip’s mother and says she was into the idea the alien would be named af­ter her. But other con­cerns in­volv­ing con­fu­sion of trade­marks and li­cens­ing prompted the film­mak­ers to re­name their alien Oh.

Though the idea of con­tact­ing Ri­hanna came first, Par­sons was the first voice cast for for the movie. “Jim can han­dle dif­fi­cult text,” says John­son. “If you try to read it your­self, you’ll see how hard it is. Plus, he has this charisma that al­lows you to for­give the ar­ro­gance of the char­ac­ter.”

To­gether, Par­sons and Ri­hanna had the kind of high-qual­ity chem­istry needed to tell a road­trip story in which their char­ac­ters would spend a lot of time talk­ing to each other. “The chem­istry has to be very rich and we don’t have the easy chem­istry of a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship,” says John­son.

Though Tip cer­tainly breaks some ground as a fe­male, non-white lead char­ac­ter for an an­i­mated film, So­ria says she hopes au­di­ences see the re­al­ity in her and ac­cept her as a char­ac­ter.

“She’s un­typ­i­cal, but she’s in­cred­i­bly typ­i­cal. She’s typ­i­cal in life,” says So­ria. “She looks more like most of us, so I hope she’s em­braced.”

De­signs Are the Draw Jason Reisig, head of an­i­ma­tion on the movie, says the char­ac­ter de­signs for Oh and Tip — and how dif­fer­ent they are — was one of the things that drew him to the pro­ject. “They spend a lot of time learn­ing from each other and there are these re­ally great mo­ments for an­i­ma­tion that’s re­ally at­trac­tive to an­i­mate,” he says.

Fig­ur­ing out the Boov was a big chal­lenge. The aliens have “nos­tri­cals,” which are ten­ta­cle-like ap­pendages where their ears would be that are ac­tu­ally their smell sen­sors. They also have six pod-like feet. But Reisig says the real chal­lenge was hav­ing Oh stand out as dif­fer­ent from but still the same as his fel­low Boov.

Tip posed a very dif­fer­ent prob­lem, Reisig says. “She wants to be an adult but she’s still a kid, and

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