Much sought-after animator uses Harmony to build dramatic backdropsfor concerts and more.
One of the most satisfying aspects of working in the animation industry is that there are so many people to learn from. There is always someone doing something a little bit different – often someone who is able to make sophisticated presentations out of just a few simple elements combined in clever and compelling ways.
For a great example of this very thing, look no further than David Daniels, a Graphic Designer/Animation Director who has been working on projects of ever-increasing scope and magnitude since receiving a master's degree (with honours) from the Central School of Art and Design in London in 1985.
Over the last 32 years, Daniels has amassed a remarkably impressive portfolio. He created the stage set projections for Roger Waters' unforgettable presentation of The Wall in Berlin, and developed animated projections for Led Zeppelin's reunion concert in 2007 at the O₂ Arena in London. He was also called upon to create stage set graphics for the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at Wembley stadium.
This small list barely scratches the surface of Daniel's vast catalogue of work, more of which can be viewed here.
Daniels has been working with Toon Boom software for several years, starting out with Animate Pro, transitioning to Harmony 9, and upgrading to each subsequent version since then.
His most recent large-scale project is providing the animated backdrops for Bryan Adams' Reckless Anniversary world tour. His graphic-based, minimalist, hand-drawn animations use colour and shapes to add flavour to the backdrops while the band is playing.
The animations enhance the music at these live shows in much the same way that music enhances a television or movie experience – by providing that extra nudge in the right way to help convey a specific feeling.
With this particular project, the process began on paper, which was then translated onto the screen with Harmony, and then finalized through After Effects, which he admits to using partly out of habit. "I suppose I am comfortable with After Effects and I dare say some of what I do could be achieved within Harmony, but it is what you are used to," Daniels explains.
As with many animators, improved speed is a welcome by-product of using Harmony. With great gains in efficiency, using Harmony is opening up exciting possibilities in the future that include both commercial and professional projects for Daniels.
The value of Harmony goes a lot deeper and he holds on to the notion of being able to flesh out his ideas directly in the software. "The power of the product allows me to play and experiment more, which is lovely," Daniels says.
As someone who has seen his share of animation software, Daniels is enthusiastic about the results he is able to achieve with Toon Boom Harmony that are not possible with any other products, as well as access to the wide range of features available.
A big fan of the drawing capabilities inherent to Harmony, he has learned how to take advantage of the multiplane features as well, in which he is able to arrange layers in 3D space. And the ability to see waveforms against the frames in the Xsheet proved invaluable on his most recent project, given the audio-based nature of the experience.
Learning how to use Harmony has been a combination of using Toon Boom video tutorials and trial and error. "I prefer to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in, learn from my mistakes. When I run into trouble, I get the tutorials out and find the solution," Daniels explains.
"I'm starting to plan and work on a personal film which will last for nearly an hour. By the end of that, I should know a bit more about the ins and outs of Harmony. I'll never know 100% of what this software can do, and that does not matter -- if it helps me get better at what I'm trying to do, well that's the target."
The target has been well struck indeed, as Daniels continues to innovate and take his particularly original method of animation to new heights with each new project created in Harmony.
David Daniels is an animation director and graphic designer who has been actively producing work for more than 30 years. He has worked with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, and continues to create innovative animation and graphics for commercial and professional projects.