Leaping Forward with Toon Boom Professional Suite

I came across Toon Boom at Annecy and really liked what I saw. I made the transition from Flash to Toon Boom very quickly." — Bernard Derriman, Animation Director, Big Green Rabbit

Leaping Forward with Toon Boom Professional Suite

Big Green Rabbit is a children’s multimedia lifestyle brand dedicated to reducing childhood obesity and connecting children and nature.

It applies sophisticated social marketing methodologies with leading academic and medical research in a unique and entertaining collection of television specials, books, music, DVD’s and live-events incorporating movement, nutrition and creative play. As a brand, Big Green Rabbit provides parents and caregivers with a holistic model designed to improve diets, encourage exercise and increase children’s connection to nature. But most importantly, to children, Big Green Rabbit is just plain fun!

In 2009, Big Green Rabbit snared six Heartland Emmy nominations proving itself as one of the country’s hottest new children’s shows and online sensations. Big Green Rabbit aims to impact the problem of childhood obesity by promoting healthy diets and inviting television viewers, Internet users and live-event participants to engage in a variety of physical activities designed to burn an additional 150 kcal every day, consistent with the calculations that increases in daily energy expenditure and reductions in energy intake that average 110 to 165 kcal/day can prevent excess weight gain in preschool and early elementary school-aged children1. In this 13 episode series, Big Green Rabbit is a 7’ rabbit named Charlie who, when adults are around, is a piece of plush owned by a 7 year-old girl named Isabelle, who is also his best friend. When surrounded by just kids, Charlie is as real as you and me. Maybe more.

Big Green Rabbit was created by Shane DeRolf, a children’s book author, father and Big Green Kid himself. Shane serves as the Executive Producer, Co-Director and Head Writer for the series, which is being developed for public television by Big Green Company in Boulder, Colorado. The creative team is simply unbelievable ---their Musical Director, Mark Oblinger, leads the song-writing machine that includes David Williams, the most prolific songwriter on the planet. Occasionally both have conspired to tie Shane to a desk and not let him leave till he’s written a song. A dedicated bunch, for sure. Bernard Derriman is their Animation Director. “An absolute genius, but you probably know that already” highlighted Shane. Their Supervising Producer and Co-Director is John W. Burshtan, who is so brilliant, it’s scary. The team shoots the live-action at Comcast Media Center, outside Denver, which is simply a North American producer’s dream-come true. Green Anaconda is their most addictive children’s music video ever created. It was also the hardest song for Bernard and Shane to think through from a story perspective.

But it paid off: “Almost every day, two and three year-olds in toy and grocery stores throughout Colorado can be overheard walking the aisles and singing.“I wanna condo. I wanna condo.” When pressed further, we’ve learned they are actually trying to sing...”Green Anaconda. Green Anaconda.” Honest. A true story” shared Shane.

Green Anaconda and all the other Big Green Rabbit songs and episodes will be airing five times a week at 8:00 AM every morning for one week a month during BIG GREEN WEEK on Rocky Mountain PBS through August while they ramp up production at the rate of two-three new shows per month.

As a series,Big Green Rabbit launched daily on Rocky Mountain PBS in September 2008. “We’re producing two--three half-hours per month---50% of which is animation, 50% live-action. All of our animation is created in Toon Boom Animate Pro---it totally kicks hoof. Over the next two years, we plan on producing 50 halfhours. And yes, we have no lives.” continued Shane with a smile on his face. Bernard Derriman explained they have a small crew of ex-Disney animators and directors working on this project based in Sydney, Australia. “I am directing, which involves the character designs and storyboarding which are created using Storyboard Pro. Then we have three animators and one compositor/editor. We are able to produce one minute a week with this crew, so a song like Green Anaconda we’d have completed in a fortnight.

Animate Pro has been a revelation with the process from Storyboard to Animate Pro, which has been seamless. As far as Storyboard Pro is concerned, I truly enjoy all the current drawing tools, and in particular the delay feature with the brush tool, a suggestion of mine in the early development. I find it a less intrusive way for the programme to optimize the line – a problem that drove me to distraction in Flash. The integration with Animate Pro has been wonderful, especially working with a crew, where I can send them a board with all my notes attached with each scene, including camera moves, it’s everything they need.

In Animate Pro, all the tools on offer in compositing gives the animation a very slick and professional look and allows us to achieve that look without having to resort to other post production software like After Effects.

Coming from Flash, possibly the greatest improvement I’ve noticed using Animate Pro is the camera feature. To be able to move the camera through elements, pans, but even if you decide you want to move in a little tighter on a shot it is sensational – something that would have been a nightmare in Flash.

And the use of pegs is brilliant. Symbols in Flash become too integrated with the animation – if you start manipulating symbols in animation, and decide somewhere down the line you don’t like what you’ve done – you are kind of screwed, there’s no easy way to go back. But in Animate Pro, it’s simply a matter of deleting the peg and starting again.

I used to use Flash, but grew tired of its limitations and lack of support. I came across Toon Boom at Annecy and really liked what I saw. I made the transition very quickly – once you get your head around the fundamentals of Toon Boom like Symbols versus Elements etc – I was as quick animating in Toon Boom Animate Pro as I was in Flash within a fortnight.” openly commented Bernard.

Thanks to the fantastic combination of great talents and leading-edge technology, the project is running smoothly and efficiently. The studio is also maximising the advantages of being part of the Toon Boom community, finding potential partners in other parts of the world and giving the digital animation studio a whole new meaning. Big Green Rabbit is now in great shape to leap higher and higher in the sky and even touch the stars!

About Big Green Rabbit

Big Green Rabbit was created by Shane DeRolf, a children's book author, father and Big Green Kid himself. Shane serves as the Executive Producer, Co-Director and Head Writer for the series, which is being developed for public television by Big Green Company in Boulder, Colorado.

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