Using Cartoon Animator, Ward Anderson is reviving the retro look of the much loved television cartoons of the 1960’s and 70’s in a series of short films and music videos.
With a background in writing and performing rather than animating, in this interview Ward explains how Cartoon Animator allows him to get the animation results he wants in faster timeframes, without the extensive knowledge from a background in animation.
” Cartoon Animator has made it possible for me to blend the principles of animation that have been around forever with the efficiency that modern technology has given us. “Ward Anderson – Comedian / Writer / TV / Radio Host
Q: Greetings Ward, and welcome. Please you tell us about the work you’re doing with Cartoon Animator 4?
Hi there and thank you. Its nice to be part of the Reallusion blog stories.
I’m currently making short-form cartoons, with a focus on music videos and short comedy cartoons of lengths that vary from a minute to five minutes. I recently created the newest music video for acclaimed jazz artist Matt Dusk. It’s the video for his new single, “Summer Wind,” originally by Frank Sinatra. I’m also developing some pilots for potential TV and web series.
Why did you choose CTA4 as the platform to create your content?
I’ve tried all of the 2D animation software available, and I have liked something about all of them. But I’m not a “tech,” person by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve been a creative person and creator my entire life, but my background is in writing and performing, so I’ve never been good with the software that is—for me—very technical or intricate. I don’t have any formal training in cartooning or illustration. I learned cartooning and animation from studying the cartoons I grew up with. I use flat, 2D characters and backgrounds, limited animation techniques, and even a little frame-by-frame full animation, although I use that sparingly.
“What I’ve found is that Cartoon Animator is the best software for animating as I do. I feel as if there’s less of a technical curve with it, from learning it to applying it to new projects. It’s great software for people who understand even the most basic fundamentals of animation. And especially those who want (or need) to create solid 2D work quickly and efficiently without losing quality.”Ward Anderson – Comedian / Writer / TV / Radio Host
Plus, it includes so many templates that make rigging characters so much easier than other programs. I used to spend forever rigging a character in other programs, and still wasn’t happy with the results. Having rigging templates was the first game changer for me when switching to CA4. The other is the pre-programmed motions that can be inserted into any character in any project. You need a quick run cycle? They’ve got that. The pre-programmed motions make it easier to put together quick and easy rough ideas of what I want to accomplish and I can modify them significantly.
For me, it’s better than storyboarding in that I can use the motions as a way to envision not only what the character’s movement might look like in a finished project, but it helps me to gauge timing. Even if you’re not going to use any of the add-ons and pre-designed content in a final project, they absolutely come in handy when planning and developing. Plus each of these movements can be studied and modified. You’re not bound to how it was originally programmed. You can change it up to fit your character and your needs. I say all this with the reminder that I’m not a tech person nor a trained illustrator. For self-taught creatives like myself, used to writing and producing less than illustrating or working with computers.
” Cartoon Animator is an excellent program to have. I also imagine it’s a great software for people who want to develop and produce animation—and need to therefore understand how to create it—but aren’t artists themselves. There are more and more people producing and directing animation these days who aren’t trained artists. Cartoon Animator is a great program for them too.”Ward Anderson – Comedian / Writer / TV / Radio Host
What’s your favourite genre or theme to work with?
I think that pretty much every cartoonist or animator will say they got into it because of the cartoons they watched as kids, and I’m no exception. I grew up with Hannah-Barbera on Saturday mornings and every weekday after school. My style represents that, as I use a lot of those limited animation techniques, as well as some of the broader cartoon character types.
I also really love the entire mid-century modern style, the UPN cartoons from the 50s and 60s, and of course Jay Ward. I love that combination of over-the-top characters with the aesthetics of the mid-century modern style. I’m also just into that era in general. I love jazz, the whole “Rat Pack” vibe and look, the fashion from that era, including the architecture and interior design, and the colours.
What’s so great about the cartoons of those days is that—due to limited budgets and time— they had to take a lot of shortcuts in order to produce the content they did. But you hardly noticed (then or now) because so much detail was put into other areas and blended together. Sure, sometimes the backgrounds were sparse, often not even the same colour from scene to scene. But the colours and textures were amazing. You wind up not really focusing on how some of the movement is stiff or limited, because the rest of it blends in so well to create something that is fun, funny, and sometimes just fun to look at. Also, as a solo animator, those shortcuts come in handy even today. So that’s how I like to work. I want a bit of a “Retro” feel to the cartoons I create, where it could almost pass for being from 1960. I also find that the mid-century modern style and the Hannah-Barbera style really gets the attention of adults looking for a little bit of nostalgia.
Do you find the process of creating characters and content for Cartoon Animator 4 easy and enjoyable?
I don’t think anyone would say that rigging a character is “enjoyable,” but I do get a bit of a rush when I’ve designed a new one and get down to putting it together. But I also don’t “rig,” all of my characters. Some are background characters that only move random body parts using Cartoon Animator‘s Deform tool.
I’ve found that using them in Cartoon Animator is a lot of fun, and pretty easy, as the Timeline makes it easy to just go in and insert them frame-by-frame where I want them without much hassle. Like I said, I’m big on finding shortcuts that don’t sacrifice much regarding quality or style. That’s easier for me in Cartoon Animator. Making scenes in Cartoon Animator can be a lot of fun, for sure.
The pre-programmed characters and motions make it possible to just to go in and have fun seeing what you can make your characters do, even if you don’t need them to do so. Want to see your tiny old man character suddenly become a nimble martial artist? You can do that, and do it quickly, just for fun. Not everyone is going to use Cartoon Animator to make professional cartoons, nor should they. Animation doesn’t have to be just about developing work or getting hired. It should also be something that people can just do for fun, sharing creations with their family and friends, or passing around to make people smile on social media. Because animation is so time consuming and intricate, there aren’t that many “hobbyists,” as with other art forms. Cartoon Animator is a program that professionals can use, but it’s also great for those who just want to have fun and get a little idea of what it’s like to create and animate cartoons.
What advice would you have for inspiring developers looking to break into the Reallusion Marketplace and sell their content?
Even trained animators sometimes want a shortcut to at least have as a reference to work with, especially when just initially developing ideas. And then there are the illustrators and cartoonists who are amazing with their artwork but not as into creating movement. That’s why I talk about Cartoon Animator as such a great program for solo animators. There are amazing artists out there who want to animate but could use a hand with the motions. And there are some talented producers and directors not as artistically inclined who need help with backgrounds, characters, etc. I would tell a content developer to find the thing they love to create the most, that they create the best, and that they can create in abundance. Those who need it will find it in the Marketplace and hopefully a bit of a working relationship between the two will develop out of that initial exchange.
Do you have plans for future content in the works?
Oh, yes, indeed. Before Covid19 hit in 2020, I was working on numerous other creative projects not even involving animation. I co-wrote a couple of movies, one of which was on the Lifetime network and the other is being filmed in early 2021. I had a comedy special, a talk radio show, and I wrote a couple of novels. Plus I’m a voice actor and performer.
I’ve worked in entertainment for over 25 years. Animation was both a lifelong dream and another addition to my list of various projects in different mediums I’m always working in. Since this pandemic hit, my focus is almost exclusively on animated projects. I’ve buried myself in learning and creating. And then learning more and creating more. I still take online classes for both cartooning and animation. I’m developing digital storybooks for kids, producing some scripted podcasts based on superhero comics, and more music videos and commercials, etc.
I’ve recently been approached about a TV Christmas special, designed with my “retro,” style in mind, that would be an homage to the holiday cartoons we watched as kids…and still watch today. But animation hasn’t just been me making a childhood dream a reality, it’s also been the thing to keep me from going too stir crazy during these hectic and stressful times, being isolated from much of what I knew before we got here.
What advantages do you find Cartoon Animator 4 give you?
It gives me the advantage of not having to spend as much time dealing some of the more riding tech details. As I said before, rigging is much quicker and easier. But there’s more to it than just that. Cartoon Animator is unique in that everything you need is there, but you don’t have to use it exactly as it was designed. You can change it up to fit your needs. There’s an option for designing cartoon heads with individual eyes and facial features that move in 360 degrees with just a sweep of the mouse. That’s very cool and people love it…but it isn’t my style and doesn’t tend to fit with my projects. And yet I’m able to use that same option to create completely finished character faces that I then swap out easily with a few clicks here and there in whatever frames I need them.
I’m essentially swapping out cels over backgrounds, as they did back the day. But I’m doing it solo, which would take me forever and not be nearly as effective if I attempted to do it all frame-by-frame myself, especially with my limited artistic abilities. Cartoon Animator has made it possible for me to blend the principles of animation that have been around forever with the efficiency that modern technology has given us. There are some who want the look and feel of 2D animation that almost looks 3D because of the range of motion. Then there are those like me who want the ability to create cartoons that look as if they are more traditionally animated than they actually are.
What projects have you most recently been working on?
I’ve been lucky with the positive response from the music video I made for Matt Dusk. “Summer Wind,” was originally released in 1965, so I tried to make that video look as if it came from that era as much as possible. That has led to us working together again, releasing a new song and cartoon to go with it. It’s going to be a James Bond spoof/music video. That, too, will have the retro style that I work with. While working on that, I’ve been trying out some different tricks and techniques to find new shortcuts that can be utilized with Cartoon Animator. I like finding ways to use the normal features that are useful but not necessarily as they were originally designed to be used. And I’m developing a series of short cartoons about relationships and marriage and parenthood, aimed at adults. Quick, funny, and relatable little segments that can be passed around on social media.
Plus, I’m always available to work for hire, if my style compliments the project. Basically, I’m just constantly creating or trying to create new cartoons, even if they’re just for me or my daughters, who’d never heard of Huckleberry Hound but love him now that their dad has been learning from him.
Check out my recent entry for the Reallusion Animation At Work 2020 CONTEST.
Follow more of Ward’s work: