Moving Colour's 'Pencil and Paper' Creations Come to Life with Harmony

"In the past we'd animate on paper. We liked the "true" authentic look of pencil on paper, but have found that we can achieve that same authentic look with Harmony." — Brian Covalt, Creative Director, Moving Colour

Moving Colour's 'Pencil and Paper' Creations Come to Life with Harmony

Think of what you were doing when you fell in love with animation. For most animators, it all started with pencil in hand, a blank sheet of paper, and a mind full of possibilities…. head down, hovering over a desk, awkwardly propped up against an empty seat on a bus, doodles in the margins of textbooks. What mattered most was the energy created by simple pencil and paper drawings.

For Brian Covalt, the purity of pencil and paper still matters. And he's using Toon Boom Harmony Stand-Alone to create innovative and inventive animations with that expression in mind.

Moving Colour

A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Character Animation program, Brian Covalt started his career in character animation for feature films, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Happy Feet, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. With a fervent desire to move forward and into smaller, more collaborative projects, Covalt worked as the Supervising Character Animator at Rhythm & Hues before founding Moving Colour, an animation production company with a dizzying array of talent, in 2009.

Making use of the talent at his disposal, Covalt directed the award-winning animated Foot Locker campaign, "All Runners Welcome. It's a brilliant and hilarious look into the diverse characteristics of different types of runners. From the sweat-laden labourer to the arms-flailing joyful plodder, from the bearded glider to the perfect-posture prancer, the piece presented a lighthearted and amusing look at the world of runners that strikes a chord with athletes and couch potatoes alike.

Moving Colour

Covalt's approach to animation is as diverse as the characters in his award-winning running piece. His shop's specialty is 2D hand-drawn animation in the traditional style using Harmony Stand-Alone. Ever innovative, they have also made use of Harmony's specific set of tools to rig characters and create "2.5D" animation.

Describing the workflow at Moving Colour, Covalt explained that Harmony is the tool that they use most often at the beginning of their process. "We first animate a rough pass, then do cleanup and then export the image sequence out of Harmony." From there, they can extract what they have and composite it in Adobe After Effects. Once this is complete, the edits are done in Premier.

Moving Colour

Since they started using Harmony, Moving Colour has achieved a significant increase in productivity. The process, previously, took place in five parts. They animated on paper in rough, did another pass for cleanup, scanned the animations, processed in Photoshop, and then, finally, composite. "Working in Harmony allows us to work much faster, see our animation playback immediately and take out several stages in cleanup," Covalt explained. Harmony has allowed Brian Covalt to bring form and function together, giving his studio the ability to quickly and easily animate with the results they want to achieve.

And, as though channeling that kid who's bent over doodling in the margins of his notebook while not paying attention in class, Brian Covalt doesn't hesitate when asked which of Harmony Stand-Alone's features has given his animation productions the ability to stand out from the crowd. And that's "the ability to have our animation look authentically like pencil on paper."

More recently, Moving Colour produced Patagonia's "What the Pluck?", highlighting some pretty fantastic character animation.

Moving Colour

About Brian Covalt

Brian is the guiding force for all phases of a project at Moving Colour, from conception, through production and on to delivery. After graduating from the Character Animation program at CalArts he got his start in feature animation, where he spent a lot of time with singing chipmunks and dancing penguins. While working in character animation, he became involved with more short-term projects where he developed a love for design and intimate team collaboration.