X sheet, obsolete?

"the traditional hand numbered paper exposure sheet (“X-sheet” for short) is fast becoming a relative of the dodo. with the advent of more CG animation, Flash and paperless systems, the traditional X-sheet is frequently an afterthought"
Eric Goldberg

i have to admit i never use the xsheet view on Animate standard, has anybody here found a use to it other than giving a feeling of "organization"l?

You use it everytime you change a drawing (by substition). Everytime you do it updates the x-sheet.

It gives you a visual representation of your drawing changes (which you can’t see in the timeline).

X-sheets are still a vital tool when planning your timing and action in any given scene. They help determine where you are in a dialog and you can thumbnail poses and generally keep everything organized. nothing looks worse than animation that’s just slapped together-it still needs planning. It saves time in post, I can tell you that!

i also bet there are a lot of old school big customers of toon boom which started traditional and moved to digital, and they would probably cry without it!

Right here Raider!:slight_smile:
Any professional animator will tell you over and over, a successful animated project requires planning. And more planning. Saves time, money and head aches.

This is an interesting subject. I’m also an old time animator (never thought I’d say that) who came up with paper x-sheets (and still use them on occasion), but I never saw an x-sheet as the place where I did the bulk of my planning and therefore don’t use it that much when animating digitally. I usually thumbnail out on a layer and put in rough indications of timing right on the drawing. But I also like to leave room and not get too bogged down in planning, and I think it’s easy to get locked into something and end up with stiff animation.

Since I tend to put in broad extremes first and whittle my way down to keys, then breakdowns, then inbetweens, I end up with a confusing x-sheet unless I go in and re-number things all the time. After seeing some of the ways John K uses the x-sheet (particularly the annotation columns) I’ve thought it would be worthwhile to investigate that some more but have yet to make the time.

So, even though I’m generally animating in the most traditional of styles, I use the timeline almost exclusively and I’ll write my numbers on the drawing just to keep track of it in case I start moving things around (and because I’m used to doing that on actual paper and because that’s where I’ll put my tween charts). I’ve thought a bit about this because when we do jobs where we scan drawings the x-sheet is very important, but if i have to go into those and alter them digitally I ignore it. Man, this is the height of animation nerdiness - I love it!

x-sheet are an archaic and antiquated animation tool. It’s actually one of the things I dislike about Toon boom products.

These devices were fine in the OLD days, before computers, where it was useful to visualize an entire timeline on a long sheet of paper. But in the modern world they serve very little functional use and they just take up too much unnecessary screen space which should be reserved for more functional tasks like drawing, painting, and scene planing etc.

X-sheets primary purpose was to plan out and communicate how an animation was to be laid out across time before any actual animation was done, so for the most part it was a always more of a preproduction tool. TB’s use of the x-sheet as a metaphor for a working timeline is, in my not so humble opinion, a step backwards.

Expensive modern day tools should look towards a more efficient and less intrusive timeline system.

Having said that I think TB is in a position where the can and SHOULD try to “reinvent” the well when it comes to x-sheets.

I believe the x-sheet is not totally obsolete. What it needs is an update for the new animation computer technics.

You can improvise while animating but planning definitely will save you time

Just posted a feature request upon things that came to mind following this post and the thread about animation stopwatch. If some of you have some additional points of view, please add them in the feature request.


I find that timing and planning is still important but there is sure room for new ways that suites the digital work bench, and widens the possibilities.


What I personally like about the XSheet is being able to see the drawing names at a glance. It makes it easier if I’ve named the drawings for lip sync for example, to see which drawings I’m on at that moment.

I also like using Annotation Columns to mark up a scene before I animate it, especially if I haven’t fleshed out the Storyboard very well before doing that scene.

But most of the time, things can be done easily visually through the timeline. It’s just a matter of personal preference, really.


X sheets are still integral to planning the timing on paperless productions, and a lot of studios that have moved to paperless make use of annotation columns to plan things exactly the same way they used to do on paper, so they can maintain a digital pipeline, totally paperless, but work the same way they would have on paper.

That being said, the nice thing is, if it’s not necessary for you, then you can always just X it to close it and you never have to look at it again.