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Content

Winner Tips & Tricks Interview: The Making of Raknum Animation’s “Songrea Travels”

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The “Winner Tips & Tricks ” series covers practical workflows and techniques shared by winners from the “2022 Animation At Work Contest”. To let users see the full spectrum of the Cartoon Animator pipeline, we are introducing projects that received attention and credit from the community. Let’s now take a look at Raknum Animation’s: “Songrea Travels”, and see how he works his magic with Reallusion Cartoon Animator (CTA).

About Raknum Animation

Hi, I’m Onome Egba and I’m a writer and director. I have a background in psychology and have also spent some time working in advertising. I’ve worked on both corporate and personal projects in various capacities including as a producer, director, and animator on ads, music videos, and short films—one of which earned me an African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) nomination for best animation.

As founder and creative director at Raknum Animation Studios, I see the company as an outlet to enable me and my team to find interesting ways to engage with art and creativity. As a relatively young and evolving hybrid art form, I’ve loved the creative potential animation offers. It’s also been particularly exciting to find new ways to leverage innovations in software and technology to make processes simpler and more streamlined; because, though animation can be highly expressive and offer near-infinite possibilities, it can also get very tedious.

Why we made Songrea Travels and why chose Cartoon Animator

We were exploring new tools and solutions for 2D character rigging for a project—where speed and consistency were paramount—when we found Cartoon Animator and the Animation at Work contest. As an iClone user, I’ve always known about CTA but having only recently started to dabble in more 2D-centric workflows, I never really paid it much attention. The contest created an opportunity to force ourselves into putting Cartoon Animator to the test; see how fast we could learn it and more importantly how well it’ll integrate into our workflow. Also, finding out about the contest way past its announcement, meant we were left with only about seven weeks to execute the project, which seemed a good creative challenge for our small team. In the end, we lived up to our billing and we’re more than proud of what we pulled off.

Workflow Summary

Our workflow for this project was pretty straightforward. We like to work in a way that lets us perform concurrent tasks with multiple things going on at the same time. That way, the backgrounds can inspire the character art, music can inspire the writing, and everything just piggybacks off each other till we organically find a common ground everyone’s excited about. About this, the home vs vacation idea came pretty early on and the somber acoustic guitar tune soon became a guiding light for the project. That is until we started editing and got completely tired of the song. Hence, why this animation breakdown is in the most non-acoustic guitar-sounding tune we could find.

How I did it with CTA

Step 1: Ideation

Once we had the home and vacation theme, we started exploring some places that would be cool to explore visually. We fought between making it completely centered around the home or the vacation before deciding to combine them both. At this time, our art director, Funto Coker, was already exploring some background art styles and we were assessing locations that seemed to connect best. Soon we created a script and had a blueprint for everything else.

Step 2: World Building & Layout

Backgrounds were completed before the character because that’s what we started with. So we looked at the space, set up the shot, and then added the characters. Another thing we looked out for in the composition, background art, and camera layout, were opportunities to utilize the z-axis to add more depth and visual interest to the shot with a parallax effect. Parallax also helps the audience get a feel for the scale of the scene, which also serves as a story-telling element. For domestic scenes, we kept it intimate and flat and then pushed for more depth as we went outside.

Step 3: Character Rigging & Animation

Once the characters were done, we brought them into CTA 4. With the limbs separated from the PSD file, simple drag-and-drops connected the bones, and in a few minutes, we had a character ready for animation. I also personally liked being able to have a custom GUI for each character—it just added personality to the animation process. Furthermore, the animation was mostly done using the Motion Key Editor. Using key-frames and transition curves, we were able to complete the animation in no time, which was great because, by this time, we were fast approaching the final days of the contest.

Step 4: Clean up & Post Production

We finally get to the most fun part of the process as the heavy lifting has already been done. We have an animation that’s working cohesively and telling a comprehensive story. At this point, we’re focused on supplementing that story by amplifying the background art and further integrating the character animation into the background so they blend as one. We also do some basic relighting to add a bit more contrast and depth. We were also concerned about directing the viewer’s eyes, which entails darkening and slightly blurring out elements that seem to distract the audience from where they are supposed to be focusing. The scene over the temples of Myanmar was especially exciting, it’s a perfect example of an already beautiful scene being further enhanced through compositing.

Conclusion

In the end, it was a fun exercise and we’re glad we took it on. Given the sheer volume of inspiring work submitted to the contest, we feel very honored to have been awarded first prize in the “Business and Commercial” category. I hope this overview helped; We look forward to the amazing things being created by everyone in this community.

Follow Raknum Animation

Website | https://www.raknum.com

Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/raknum.animation

Youtube | https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEfuGSU2tL-X67IHteI1uxw

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