Boarding in the Best of Vector and Bitmap Worlds

"I found the software to be easy to use and a boon to production. While working there, I quickly became a fan and subsequently a go-to guy for tech problems using it." — Mike Milo, Animator, Director, Producer and Designer

Boarding in the Best of Vector and Bitmap Worlds

How long have you been in this profession?

25 years and counting.

What are your most important accomplishments?

My short film Flavio for Nickelodeon's Random cartoons as well as my two Emmy awards.

Mike Milo

What kind of projects do you create storyboards for?

All kinds, from cartoony to action to animatics, to commercials and infomercials.

History with Toon Boom Storyboard Pro:

My first foray into Storyboard Pro was on Disney's Phineas and Ferb where it is a staple tool. I found the software to be easy to use and a boon to production. While working there, I quickly became a fan and subsequently a go-to guy for tech problems using it. After that I moved to Titmouse where we used it extensively on Disney XD's Randy Cunningham 9th Grade Ninja.

I use it for all my side projects as well as pilots and infomercials I animate for clients. I also use it to clean up and color most development work and design I do for clients because I prefer its vector engine to any other. I am even using it on a graphic novel I am working on.

Please describe your workflow

I typically board straight through and don't really thumbnail things out. I rough the scene out using a light blue or grey and then go over it with black. Then I usually add some shadows and greys to make certain aspects pop. I also map my most used functions, New panel, Split Scene, Undo, and Light Table to the Cintiq's custom buttons so I rarely have to pick up my head from the monitor.

Mike Milo

What are your top five favorite features in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro:

I have many, but I will try to name the top few. I really love the select color tool because I like to be able to pull elements out as a whole from time to time and I also sometimes like to darken my shadows. With the Select Color tool this is a snap. I really like that every single aspect it hotkey-able so I can customize to my hearts content. I also love the vector engine, which by far kicks the crap out of Flash and Illustrator. I love the light table and the ability to look at multiple frames at once, which lets me pretty much animate. This is something that came in handy repeatedly during randy Cunningham because since we were not using exposure sheets, the animatics had to be very detailed.

What Toon Boom Storyboard Pro features allow you to distinguish your storyboards and animatics?

Reuse of assets stand out most clearly followed by the distort tool. Both REALLY make it easier to repurpose artwork for subtle gestures and simple head rotations. It's all but impossible to do this in a bitmap program.

Mike Milo

Did you experience any productivity gains in using Toon Boom Storyboard Pro?

Yes. As I said earlier with vectors, the reuse was much easier thereby allowing me to draw less for some scenes and concentrate on the harder ones.

Are you more efficient today compared to your production toolset used previously?

When using Storyboard Pro yes I believe so. I've already mentioned some of the things I like with regard to the art part of storyboarding but there is a lot of the job that requires some housecleaning at the end of a quickly roughed out show. Simple things like numbering a storyboard is now a breeze because the program does it for you. Revisions can be digitally tracked, making it easier to know what you're working on and when. Other things like repagination when you delete a panel or adding dialog are a lot easier to do when using Storyboard Pro.

Mike Milo

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

No I do not believe so, if only because of the timeline. Flash has that but its drawing tools are like dipping a brick in ink and being asked to paint the Mona Lisa. Sketchbook Pro is nice for sheer drawing but it does not have a timeline. In my opinion, Storyboard Pro is the best of both those worlds.

How do you feel about Toon Boom Storyboard Pro?

I'm a fan!

Mike Milo

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

I did not have much of a learning curve and yes I did use some of my buddy Sherm Cohen's tutorials, specifically on the animatic features.

Equipment used:

A custom built 3.5 ghz Intel Core i7 Hackintosh with 16 gb of memory and 5 three terabyte hard drives made viewable with Wacom Cintiq and a 19" Bosto Kingtee.

About Mike Milo

Mike Milo is a two time Emmy® award winning, six time nominated animator, director, producer and designer. He has worked for most of animation’s major studios including Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon, Titmouse, Warner Bros, Universal, Sony, Film Roman and Hanna Barbera. In addition he has had ten development deals and six pilots to date and hopes to add to that in 2013. Mike just finished up writing and drawing on Disney TV’s Phineas and Ferb, directing the new Disney XD show Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja at Titmouse and is currently storyboarding on The Fairly Odd Parents for Nickelodeon. Mike is also editor-in-chief of the very successful Animation Insider; a site devoted to interviewing animation artists across the globe. During all that time he has managed to co-produce two wonderful daughters, which are his best work to date.