Producing the Fishtronaut Series and Feature in Tandem
Following its great success with Fishtronaut Season I (52 x 11'), TV PinGuim embarked upon the production of the second season, alongside the feature film version. To accomplish this Herculean task, they opted to use the entire Toon Boom pipeline; namely Manager, Storyboard Pro and Harmony.
Completed in the spring of 2009, Fishtronaut Season I cast a wide net internationally and airs in over 70 countries, including Canada, the USA, Korea, Israel, several Arab countries, and of course Brazil, where it was extremely well-received. The series' ratings sky rocketed as children everywhere quickly took to the Fishtronaut characters. Within the first month, several merchandising companies contacted TV PinGuim to license the property, ranging from toys to school supplies, apparel, stationary, books, sticker albums, and more. There is also a live show featuring Fishtronaut s puppets on stage.
To date, Fishtronaut has won several prestigious awards, including Latin America's Prix Jeunesse for Best Fiction in the category of children up to six years of age, Best TV Program for Kids APCA (Entertainment Critics Association), and the APEX prize (Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency).
Targeted to children ages four to seven years old, the series follows secret agent Fishtronaut as he carries out cases assigned by the Secret Environmental Agency. The swimming spy is sent on a series of green global adventures, both above and below the water, to explore some of the world's natural mysteries.
Created by TV PinGuim's talented founders, Kiko Mistrorigo and Celia Catunda, Fishtronaut continues to grow. Now with the second season (52 x 11') and a feature film in full production, this clever toon is set to bring even more entertainment to young viewers and their families.
Dropping Flash to go for the full Toon Boom pipeline, the team knew from the start that it was the right technology solution to handle the new projects. "When you combine Manager with Storyboard Pro and Harmony, the production is much smoother," explains Celia Catunda. "We approve scenes online and manage all the assets in bigger libraries. The animation process is much faster, not counting all the features you can use to create the animation."
The animation style for the series production is pure 2D, with a mix of traditional and cut-out animation, all within a paperless workflow. For the feature film, the team opted for frame by frame 2D stereoscopic with 3D elements, working paperless as well.
In addition to two animation directors, the team for the series includes three storyboard artists, four animation teams comprised of one senior animator, two junior animators, two trainees, one scene planer and one compositor. Each animation team oversees one episode and delivers it every three weeks.
For the feature film, the organization is different. Even though the animation team can reuse some models from the series, they need to set them up individually in view of the stereoscopic effect. Two animation directors work on this project, along with one storyboard artist and two parallel animation teams of six people. Sequences are divided among the four lead animators, who are responsible for the key poses and the timing of the animation. The animators and trainees then follow the guidelines to maintain the look and feel of the film.
"The integration between Storyboard Pro and Harmony proved to be very useful in both projects. The revision process is much faster and so is the animation production. We import the script into Storyboard Pro, create the boards, import the scratch voices and generate the animatic. This step is critical to limit the retakes down the road. Manager makes it so efficient to oversee the progress of the production, and Harmony offers such great power that translates into speed and productivity. We no longer need to render between Flash and After Effects. Changes on assets are done in real-time, which is a major time saver," states Celia.
"For the feature film, Harmony gives us more control on the stereoscopic animation style. Once the animatic is approved for each sequence, an artist lays out the scene, incorporates the scene planning in the animatic and delivers the file to the animators for them to create the animation accordingly. Once a first cut is ready, it is checked and changes, if needed, are requested. Then, there is another round of approval. We created a circular space and the camera moves in layers; it feels like an immersive 3D sensation. We selected some moments in the film during which the stereoscopic effect would give the best experience. For example, at one point, there is a colourful ball, the POP, that floats around the scene, or when Fishtronaut flies in the sky. These scenes are spotted in the animatic. We use shadows to give more body to the characters and it looks great," enthuses Celia.
"Since we are producing the series and the feature at the same time, we can share many assets between both projects. We just have to tweak the animation a bit for the feature, as well as add effects and much more elaborated backgrounds, that take advantage of all 3D capabilities of Harmony," concludes Celia.
TV PinGuim is clearly at the cutting edge when it comes to both creating popular properties and rolling them out to increase their reach. Let's wish them continued success with Fishtronaut and all the great projects they will bring to the world.
About TV PinGuim
Located in the heart of São Paulo, Brazil, TV PinGuim is a twenty-year old animation studio dedicated to producing series and feature film for television, theatre, the internet and hand held devices. Targeted to children ages four to seven years old, Fishtronaut follows the story of a secret agent as he carries out cases assigned by the Secret Environmental Agency.