Sorry in advance of this post as it is a bit of a moan.
I employed a freelance animator a year ago to animate a 100 second promo video for our company. Luckily we weren’t in a rush. So I am not the animator and really have no idea what is achievable in this software (he is using toon boom harmony).
Every time I ask him to do something I am met by a brick wall. So when I asked him to put any sort of minor detail in a character he said that he couldn’t animate the character if it had too much detail- then he “animates” them poker still with an eye blink and the occasional stiff arm movement- with no movement in the area that I asked to add the detail.
So I have been told numerous times to get a new animator- but I feel bad. So I have stuck with him for a year- and now have 5 seconds worth of passable animation. I have had to pull in additional artists at additional costs to redraw the characters as they are not up to standard and he never does the revisions I ask.
Two weeks ago I sent him story boards for a 6 second scene and he said he couldn’t do what the story board asked as he would have to draw the character in two positions and I would tell him that the first position was out of proportion.
So- to hep him out- I got an illustrator to draw the character in the two positions and got a concept artist to draw a pile of books that were falling at different stages.
I also had after effects applied to them- so they look faded and grainy- which is the look we are going for.
The animator then messaged me- telling me that he can’t use any of the stuff I have sent him. He can’t use the characters with the after effects. And he can’t use two different poses.
I am just wondering if he is talking absolute rubbish and is just being lazy or if it really is true that he can’t use characters that have after effects applied.
Apologies for the super long post.
Thank you for replying.
I don’t know which software he is using unfortunately.
I do know that he originally drew the backgrounds and the characters inside the software.
I then had to bring in a concept artist to redraw the backgrounds as they weren’t correct. The backgrounds now look incredible and up to the standard I wanted in the first place- with no stress or bother from the concept artist. He was the one who drew the different stages of the books and said that was what he would do for other animators.
Then the animator complained when I told him he had to fix characters- as some of them were terrible. So then I paid him extra per character to try and prevent him from being lazy. But he still didn’t fix them properly, so I then had to pay extra artists to fix what I had already paid him to fix. So the people who redrew the characters drew them in outside files and they were transferred back into the software. For the outside artists to draw them- they had to trace his files.
I guess to answer your question on whether they are cutout or paperless- they are not cutout, as I asked another animator who uses that method to add some animation- and he said he uses that method and the animator who uses toon boom did not.
In terms of the animation- there is none. It’s just the characters sat lifeless and blinking with the very occasional movement. So I watched a you tube show reel and realised what the software was capable of in terms of movement. I thought he was just using bad software- but toon boom is pretty elite it seems. He is either being lazy or he is not as experienced as he led me to believe.
This has been going on for a year and we have ten weeks until the deadline so my stress levels are at an all time high. I guess I just wanted to hear from someone who uses the software to tell me that he has in fact been taking me for a ride- a very expensive one at that.
So I guess the next step for me is to cancel the work.
In my professional opinion, it does sound to me like you are being taken for a bit of a ride. However I’d like a bit more information from you to see if there is anything we can help with from our side.
- What version of the software is the animator using? Essentials, Advanced or Premium?
- Is the animator using cutout or paperless animation?
- What format were the files that you provided him with?
All in all, there is no reason why the animator shouldn’t be able to provide you with more detail or draw more than one drawing for the character, but it also depends on what you are paying and the level of detail you both agreed on beforehand.
Moving this to the Toon Boom Harmony section of our forums, since the question is Harmony related.
Really sorry that you had such a bad experience with an animator. I hope you can get your work done in time. Good luck!
Do not feel bad about ending this working relationship. The animator has not held up their end of the bargain and you have a deadline looming. If anything they should feel bad about not delivering what they promised on time.
When you ask what’s achievable in the software - you’re really only limited by the skills of the animator. If they are importing artwork instead of drawing the artwork directly in Toon Boom, different file formats have different workflows and it may not be the animators preferred workflow. Also, like other people have mentioned, cutout animation vs frame by frame are very different techniques and it sounds like your animator may not be as competent in frame-by-frame as they claimed to be.
What I would do:
Hire an animator who is able to animate in cutout style as you already have the characters/assets created (and paid for!) and it is the style you want. A competent animator should be able to do what you need in 10 weeks easily, especially if the artwork is provided.
In regards to After Effects being applied to artwork, my suggestion would be to add effects in post. I would export the finished film from Toon Boom as an image sequence(preferred) or movie and import into After Effects to apply the effects there. Working with vector in toon boom is much easier than bitmap (again, just a suggestion).
Without seeing the project and the state everything is in I would have to say this tentatively, but yes it is possible to make it work and finish the animation with elements made in Illustrator and the whole thing in After Effects. After Effects can do character animation as well, and has a lot of plugins that can rig characters quickly and effectively. Ten weeks isn’t very long to do 95 seconds of animation but it is possible, but this animation would be very limited, but a lot more than eyeblinks and arm movement. The artist may not be lazy or lying, they just might not have experience with Illustrator or After Effects and therefore are not able to make it work.
I agree with DessieX, however I would look for someone who has experience with character animation in After Effects or Character Animator, this page shows the plugins available and what they can do: