Saxon Rix heads up the animation department of a video production company and discusses how Cartoon Animator (CTA) is his 2D animation software of choice when he needs to meet tight deadlines for clients.
Cartoon Animator’s power and flexibility allow Saxon and his team to rig and animate custom characters in record time, saving valuable time and money. In this interview, Saxon also gives advice to other artists, animators and developers who work with or are considering Cartoon Animator for their business projects.
“Cartoon Animator gives us the freedom to create our own characters and animations from scratch, all within a streamlined workflow.”Saxon Rix | Head of Animation & Tech – Stada Media
Q: Hello Saxon and welcome. Can you tell us about the work you’re doing with Cartoon Animator?
Hello there. I am the Head of Animation & Tech at Stada Media, an animated video production company based in the North of England. We create a wide range of animated video content, including Live Action, Live Event Streaming, 3D Vis, Graphic Design & Motion Design.
Over the past 6 years I’ve straddled both the Live Action & Motion Design areas of the business as Head of Production, but I have recently fully moved over into Motion Design. Due to the quick turnaround of projects, I needed to find a fast & reliable way of creating 2D character design for a range of client projects, which is where Cartoon Animator came in.
I’ve known about Cartoon Animator for over 5 years, but having back-to-back projects & other challenges to tackle at that time, I never got a chance to fully test it out, so we relied on our knowledge of After Effects in order to get things done instead. However, the second my role changed to be the Head of Animation, I instantly looked to utilizing Cartoon Animator as I knew the demand for character animation was growing.
Q: Kindly tell us why did you choose Cartoon Animator as the platform to create your content?
We primarily use After Effects (AE) to create our motion design works, and it works great. But, as anyone who works with it will tell you, it is definitely NOT designed for character animation. While there are some fantastic scripts for AE to make it possible, the AE workflow is too rigid and convoluted. It isn’t a painless experience.
Being a program dedicated to character animation, Cartoon Animator is much more streamlined for the Character Animation workflow, and while there are a couple of other programs out there that do a similar thing, what sets Cartoon Animator apart is the huge library of pre-made 2D character designs and animations available to use.
” Being a program dedicated to character animation, Cartoon Animator is much more streamlined for the Character Animation workflow, and while there are a couple of other programs out there that do a similar thing, what sets Cartoon Animator apart is the huge library of pre-made character designs and animations available to use.”Saxon Rix | Head of Animation & Tech – Stada Media
I love Cartoon Animator because in a pinch it gives us the ability to very quickly prototype and build a baseline for character animations by utilizing the pre-made characters and animations. Yet if we have more time and the project calls for it, it gives us the freedom to create our own characters and animations from scratch, all within a streamlined workflow. It’s a win-win.
Q: What’s your favorite animation genre or theme to work with?
We work with a wide range of styles, but I personally much prefer more stylized characters and designs compared to ‘realistic’ ones. I just find it creates a much more appealing look. Where possible, I find it’s better to utilize a metaphor to get a point across rather than being just direct and on the nose.
Q: Do you find the process of creating characters and content for Cartoon Animator easy and enjoyable?
Creating characters for Cartoon Animator is the most streamlined workflow I know to date. The bridge between character creation (in Photoshop for example) and rigging is a breeze, especially with the pipeline version, which allows you to just import a PSD character (following the correct hierarchy for Cartoon Animator to read) and the character is instantly rigged. It’s a dream to use. I would love to see a 100% vector workflow (not swf) in future versions, as vector offers extra control that just isn’t available with raster-based rigging and animation.
Q: What advice would you have for inspiring developers looking to break into the Reallusion Marketplace and sell their content?
I think there are three bits of advice I could give, which are always what I’m looking for when searching the marketplace, are:
Look out for styles that are NOT already on the marketplace. You don’t want your style to closely resemble another marketplace sellers work, of course, but also some styles (such as the basic ‘elastic folk’ style characters) have been done to death, so they all kind of blend into one. In a marketplace with a lot of other sellers, you want to be able to stand out on your own.
Whichever style you decide upon, It’s imperative that you have a wide range of characters of different age, race, sex, social standing & backgrounds etc. There are some awesome designs in the marketplace, but creators can sometimes decide against buying a character they like, simply because there’s only one or two characters available in that style. Most creators are looking for character styles that contain a large range of characters, so that as their story expands, they’re not going to run into issues with lacking character choices. Garry Pye for example is one of the top sellers due to his great character styles while also having a wide range of characters available in each of those styles (such as the Bendies and the All Stars).
There are a huge number of creators looking to make their own animated web-shows, and as such they’re looking for character styles that have that kind of edge to them. I’d personally love to see more 2D Disney type styles, as well as more ‘Cartoon TV Show’ styles (Bob’s Burgers, Rick & Morty etc), especially older toons like The Flintstones etc., as there’s just something timeless about that style.
Q: Do you have plans for future content in the works?
Absolutely! Thanks to Cartoon Animator, we’re able to ramp up the amount of character animation we can include in client projects of all budgets. At the moment I’m working on three different client projects which utilize CTA characters. I’ll hopefully be able to share these online once approved.
I’m also very slowly working on developing a pilot for a kids show with a friend, which is inspired by our daughters, Autumn and Ava. Finally, I’m working with our design team to create a range of in-house custom character styles, so that we can offer bespoke characters for clients that need them.
Q: From your experience, what advantages do you find Cartoon Animator gives you?
The key advantage Cartoon Animator allows us is speed. At Stada we always strive to offer more and more value for the client’s budget. But of course, value often comes at the cost of time, and as the old adage goes, ‘time is money’. Part of my job as Head of Animation & Tech is to find new or alternative technologies and processes that enable us to increase the value of our projects without increasing time spent.
With Cartoon Animator specifically, we save time in a plethora of ways: Thanks to the thousands of readily available animations, the animation process inside of CTA is much, much faster than any other program I have come across. Even if you don’t want to use the pre-made motions exclusively, they allow you to quickly create a baseline to then build upon with custom animations.
There are also thousands of readily available 2D character designs to choose from, which is particularly handy if there is no budget to create custom characters.
The rigging process was always a tedious yet necessary evil within AE etc. But Cartoon Animator makes it so much quicker.
Being able to jump between Photoshop and CTA in order to adjust characters to your liking is a breeze. Being able to export with transparent backgrounds in order to finish the work inside of AE helps tremendously. If the client says they want to completely change the character type last minute… EASY! Cartoon Animator has become our go to 2D animation software.
Q: Could you share with us what projects have you most recently been working on?
At any one-time Stada Media is always working on a range of Live Action videos, Live Stream events, 3D visualisation work, Graphic Design projects and Motion Design.
In my corner of the business specifically, I’m currently working on a project which is a nice mix of a 3D environment (made in Blender to look kind of 2D isometric style), with some 2D characters appearing in there too (made with Cartoon Animator of course!). I’ve also recently finished another project for a healthcare client, in which I utilized CTA again to help illustrate a patient being treated by doctors etc. Where possible, I will share these projects online once the client has approved them.
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