Calligram (PCG) is a Swiss publishing house established in 1993 by Christian Gallimard, specializing in books for children and more particularly in edutainment. Calligram's most famous book series is Max et Lili with eighty titles and sales of one million copies per year. In 2006, a production company called Callitoon was created in order to broaden its activities with their holding company PCG. Calligram and Callitoon's shared vision is to develop close links between the worlds of publishing, audiovisual and multimedia. Our objective is to create cross-platform concepts and products. With this objective in mind, Calligram and Callitoon started to expand the Max et Lili concept into different areas.
Callitoon's creative team is built around the TV director, Virginie Jallot and a digital specialist, Pauline Gallimard who works closely with the modeler Anders Ehrenborg and two designers, Alex Boudon and Ahmed Guerrouache.
Virginie Jallot graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Over the past 21 years, she has been involved as an artistic director, director, and line producer in the production and direction of numerous shorts, music videos, CD-ROMs and animation series. She has been very involved in the development of animation digital technology, working with the 2001 company for the creation of TicTacToon, a "paperless" animation software. In 2000, she took helm of Studio Ellipse, where she supervised the production of several TV series and feature films, including Kong, Nick & Perry, Agrippine, Xcalibur, Funny Little Bugs, Bécassine and Corto Maltese, encompassing a wide variety of styles and 2D and 3D techniques. In 2003, Virginie joined TeleImages Kids, to produce and co-direct the Atomic Betty series, season 1, 2 and 3 (156 x 13 min).
Pauline Gallimard graduated from Miami International University with a Master's Degree in 3D Computer Animation. She first worked in San Francisco on various TV commercials as a visual effects artist. After a training on 2D animation software, she moved to Los Angeles to work on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie as an ACME digital specialist at Warner Brothers Feature Animation. She then worked as a visual effects supervisor on, a TV movie. Back to Europe in 2004, she joined BUF studios as a senior graphic designer to work on Luc Besson's CG kids feature movie, Arthur et les Minimoys.
The success of the Max et Lili book series, created by Dominique de Saint Mars and Serge Bloch, has resulted in the development of a TV series targeting children from 6 to 12 years old. This superior quality 3D animation project will run for fifty-two, 13-minutes episodes. The pilot for this project was completed in September 2006, and served as a test bed for new pre-production techniques and organization, to be used once it got the green light
With a MIPCOM deadline of less than six weeks looming, the two-minute pilot production took an interesting turn right at the pre-production stage. Virginie Jallot and Pauline Gallimard recall their experience: "We wanted to streamline the process by going straight from a shooting script to a 3D animatic using Motion Builder. After some struggling we successfully met with our objectives. However, once the 3D animatic was done, we realized that for organization and communication purposes, it was difficult not to have a classic 2D storyboard at all. At this point, it became clear that Toon Boom Storyboard would be the perfect paperless solution. We simply rendered frames from our 3D animatic and incorporated them into Toon Boom Storyboard. We also added all the necessary details such as dialogues, shot duration, director's notes or camera direction.
All in all, it had become clear to us that not only the process of storyboarding was indeed time-saving but that Toon Boom Storyboard would address several of our objectives. As a result of this great experience we decided to incorporate Toon Boom Storyboard in our pipeline for the upcoming series production.
Our intention to streamline the pre-production process is even easier to attain as Storyboard is a digital solution, enabling us to save significant time and resources knowing that the boarders will have to adjust working with a paperless medium.
We have tested the import of 3D rendered right into Toon Boom Storyboard on the pilot and decided to use that astounding feature. To reach utmost efficiency and productivity at the pre-production stage, we'll determine predefined camera axes and angles for each background. By selecting among predefined camera angles for each background, the boarders won't have to create any backgrounds axis and angles. It is directly on top of those rendered backgrounds that the boarders will create the sketches.
For pre-timing purposes, the boarders will also be given the recorded voices as it is easy to add sound tracks in Storyboard. The boarders will then be able to sketch over the 3D backgrounds and synchronize the sound tracks to estimate the final timing. Of course, the dialogues will also appear in Storyboard for each shot. Finally, we will also include the director's notes and any necessary comments for that animator to work with. All things considered, those types of control should translate into significant time and financial savings for the entire production.
Storyboard will also incorporate valuable production data. For each shot, it will include information such as the list of used characters, the camera angle, the background and props used to complete each shot. Based on this data, Storyboard's digital capabilities will be further put to use as we are planning to automate the data transfer between Storyboard and Motion Builder to improve the speed and efficiency of 3D files generation. We are currently developing a plug-in that will enable us to recover the storyboard data once it has been validated, and create the animatic sequences within Motion Builder. We are also developing a setup that will allow us to freely exchange animation between Maya and Motion Builder.
For us, Toon Boom Storyboard is not only the most suitable software to create a paperless storyboard but it also allows us a smooth transition toward 3D animatic. The character main design pack is also ready and contains characters created with a 3D look based on the 2D graphical look of the book. The team is now in the process of getting the script adaptation approved by the author, Dominique de Saint Mars, to make the jump into the series production. At this time, we are fine-tuning the production planning process and still finding ways of maximizing the use of Storyboard."