Tradigital Animation at its Best

"Skipping the pencil drawings and scanning was the greatest benefit, I love drawing directly in the computer and having a vector image all ready to go." — Joaquin Baldwin, Director and Animator

Tradigital Animation at its Best

How long have you been in this profession?

I started playing with animation when I was in high school, about 10 years ago. I did not start it seriously as a career until 5 years ago when I started doing narrative shorts.

What are your most important accomplishments?

Getting nominated for an Annie Award alongside Pixar, Disney, Aardman and Plympton was fantastic. Though my films received many awards, this nomination was still the most exciting thing for me.

History with the Toon Boom Professional Products:

What kind of projects do you create storyboards for?

I storyboard anything that is time-based. I first see it playing in my head, then in paper, then in the computer, and then it’s time to animate. Without the boards it’s hard to explore new ideas quickly, one starts to get too attached to shots or scenes that might not be the best for the film.

Do you create your animations using Toon Boom Professional Products only?

Nope, a wide mix.

If not, what other applications are you using?

Mostly Maya, After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere, Illustrator.

Why did you choose to combine these products?

Each has its strengths. I find Toon Boom exceptional for animating and doing cleanups, but I prefer After Effects to do the camera work and the texturing. Photoshop is always a must, and Illustrator fills in some vector gaps that Photoshop is still not the best for. And Maya is for anything 3d, even if it’ll be exported as flat 2D graphics.

  • The Windmill Farmer
  • The Windmill Farmer

Please describe your workflow

Each project is widely different, but I’ll talk specifically about my latest one, The Windmill Farmer

What is your pre-production process?

I started with a simple idea, and a lot of different interpretations of a possible storyline. I knew the title, The Windmill Farmer and that would drive the concept in one way or another.

I always start by sketching on paper, I did a bunch of explorations on the character and tried to simplify it as much as possible, just keeping the essence. This would help me later since I had a tight deadline, so a more stylized approach was needed.

Then I did a quick storyboard on Toon Boom Storyboard and printed it out to see how the film played shot by shot. Once it was close enough to what I needed, I assigned each shot a number and started organizing what I’d need to create during production.

Production was pretty straightforward, I imported some video references in Toon Boom and animated in 3’s using that as inspiration for the timing. Once the animation was cleaned up I exported it into SWFs that I brought into After Effects, allowing me to zoom in as tightly as possible without pixellating the image.

What kind of animation do you create?

I do 2D and 3D, I think my strongest skill is in 3D but I enjoy 2D a lot too. I also do some motion graphics and compositing. I like working on shorts that are very condensed and carry a strong story in a short amount of time.

The Windmill Farmer

What animation technique are you mostly using (i. e. cut-out, paperless, traditional)?

Mostly a mix of 3D and a motion-graphics-styled 2D traditional animation (though I don’t animate in paper anymore, I go straight for a Wacom tablet and work digitally from the get go)

What are your top five favorite features:

  • in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro:
    1. Lots of printing options
    2. Super fast to work with
    3. Integration of dialogue/script/notes
    4. Being able to play the board without exporting to video
    5. Lots of export tools

  • in Toon Boom Animate Pro:
    1. Simple onion skin controls and shortcuts
    2. Responsiveness of the drawing tools
    3. Importing videos as background references
    4. Vertical (x-sheet) and horizontal timelines
    5. Color palettes are easy to manage

What Toon Boom Professional Products’ features allow you to distinguish your animation productions, including at the storyboarding and animatic stages?

Mostly their ease for drawing frame by frame, which is what I truly use the products for.

Did you experience any productivity gains in using Toon Boom Professional Products?

Yes, skipping the pencil drawings and scanning was the greatest benefit, I love drawing directly in the computer and having a vector image all ready to go.

Is it possible to get the same results with other digital animation software?

I think so, but I like how complete the toolsets are in Toon Boom.

How do you feel about Toon Boom Professional Products?

I’d recommend them for 2D animation.

How was your leaning curve? Have you used the video tutorials?

I looked at the tutorials one time and it was pretty much all I needed. I didn’t use many of the advanced tools, just the basics was enough for my project.

Equipment used:

MacBook Pro, Wacom Intuos tablet.

About Joaquin Baldwin

Joaquin Baldwin is director and animator from Paraguay, currently living in Los Angeles. His film Sebastian's Voodoo was nominated for an Annie Award in 2009, the most prestigious award in animation, where he competed with 4 other studio-produced shorts from Pixar, Disney, Aardman and Plympton. He has received more than 100 awards for his animated films Sebastian's Voodoo and Papiroflexia, including a Student Academy Award, and awards at the Cannes Short Film Corner, USA Film Festival, Angelus, Cinanima and Cinequest. His films have been shown in over 150 countries, in all continents (including Antarctica), and have a wide following of fans online with millions of views registered.

Joaquin learned the basics of animation independently while living in Paraguay, and later moved to Ohio for a BFA in Animation at the Columbus College of Art & Design. In 2010 he graduated from UCLA with a Masters degree in Animation. Joaquin is a proud recipient of a full graduate scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

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