Deb Ethier began making short animated films in 2016, with quirky stop-motion comedies including quirky characters like Yorick, the skull from Hamlet, who, disgruntled by the lack of opportunity for him at the Globe, headed off into the big, wide world.
These early films were developed into the web series, “22 Bones”, in addition to which Deb has created several animated shorts including “The Masque of the Red Death” which was selected by several festivals and won awards at specialty competitions.
Deb’s work was also awarded the Judges Prize in the Reallusion Animation at Work Competition.
“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing my characters come to life. Cartoon Animator 4 was exactly what I was looking for!”Deb Ethier – 2D Animator
Q: Hello Deb, welcome to our feature stories. Can you tell us why did you choose Cartoon Animator (CA) as the platform to create your 2D content?
I started animating in 2016 with a series of quirky stop-motion comedy shorts. Although fun, I did find that my very basic level of expertise in stop motion severely limited what I wanted to do, which was to work with smooth, fully-formed characters full of expression. I needed to look beyond stop motion and tried many 2D animation programs to find one that would be able to cover all of the film-making aspects from background sets to character development to special effects and everything in between for an integrated experience. It seemed, in fact, that I was trying a new animation program every week, but none managed to meet my criteria for the search: it had to be relatively easy to learn, able to handle many tasks, not too bulky, be able to get the look I wanted and not be horribly expensive.
I didn’t want to go true 3D or very realistic – I wanted to keep that bit of a fantasy angle. After seeing “The Curious Child” by Howard Vause at Detroit Shetown Film Festival in September 2019 and reading about it on Cartoon Brew, I became intrigued with the software he used, wondering if it might fit the bill. I contacted Howard and he graciously answered my many questions concerning Reallusion’s Cartoon Animator 4. I then downloaded the trial version and played around with it for a week or so…then I promptly bought it! It was exactly what I was looking for!
What advantages do you find Cartoon Animator gives you?
To me there is nothing more satisfying or fun than seeing my characters come to life through CA’s interface. I had done some 2D animating with the other software I had tried, so wasn’t a rank beginner, but certainly not an expert and yet I was able to get quite exciting results with CA right from the start.
The 360 head option really upped the game exponentially; the time and care put into the formatting of the head pays off in huge dividends of satisfaction when you preview your new character and see the beautifully smooth head turns and movements. Now, with the brand new bone hand options, another quantum leap has occurred. Just using the included hand poses has been very satisfying, but I am about to enter the world of mocap as my leap motion controller has just arrived. I can’t wait to try it out with the bone hands!
However, the feature that completely captivated me back when I first tried Cartoon Animator was the appearance of 3D backgrounds through camera parallax. The illusion of depth you can achieve with layers of background is really amazing, even to the point of seeming to travel through doorways, openings or landscapes.
What’s your favourite genre or theme to work with?
I sometimes feel like there are two artists living in my head! I love doing quirky, off-the-wall comedy parodies (like my web series “22 Bones”, under the studio name “Seat of the Pants Film Lab”) but there’s also a whole side to me that makes more meditative pieces solely with music or even serious drama (under the “Rusty Bolt Theatre” umbrella).
I guess that’s pretty eclectic, but Cartoon Animator has been able to handle all of my styles. I do everything in both “studios”; artwork, animation, music, etc…I even make the espresso!
What projects have you most recently been working on?
Since last September I’ve competed in Reallusion’s “Animation at Work” contest, completed two seasons of my web series, two short films condensed from the series and three other shorts of my more serious type, all using CA4.
I presently have three new projects in the works: the first one is a comedy featuring Shakespeare and Hamlet (see included screenshots of character tests and sets). Then I’ll work on a very short piece based on an English folk tale. Looming in the background is quite a big project that has taken on epic proportions in my mind. Not going to share anything more on that just yet except to say that it’s a project very close to my heart.
What would you like to pass along to those thinking about trying Cartoon Animator 4?
I’m going to be very honest in saying I have no doubt that I would not have been able to achieve what I have without Cartoon Animator 4. It has allowed me to bring my quirky alter-egos to life and to give expression to my more artistic visions…and on top of all that, it’s fun to use! Can’t get much better than that!
See More of Deb’s work: