One of the most well-known professional animation tools in the world is opening up its source code. That means amateur filmmakers and independent studios will now have access to the same technology used by famous animation directors, such as Hayao Miyazaki, in movies such as "Spirited Away” or “My Neighbor Totoro."
Late last week, Japanese publisher Dwango announced that it has acquired the animation software, known as Toonz, from Italian software developers Digital Video. Dwango has said it will also publish and develop an open source platform based on Toonz, to be called OpenToonz. On Saturday, the Toonz Ghibli Edition will be made available to the animation community as a free download.
Shift to Open Source Business Model
“We hope the high-quality software that meets the demands of animation professionals will contribute to revitalizing the animation industry,” Nobuo Kawakami, chairman and CTO at Dwango, said in a statement. “Dwango will also utilize OpenToonz in order to present its research and development results."
OpenToonz will include several features developed by longtime Toonz user Studio Ghibli, the famous Japanese animation studio headed by Miyazaki. Dwango said it will use the open source version of the software to create an open platform to enable research teams and the animation industry to collaborate.
The decision to allow one of the most commonly used filmmaking software tools to go open source also means a big change for Digital Video, which will now shift to an open source business model. The company said it will now focus on offering commissioning, installation and configuration, training, support, and customization services for Toonz users. Nevertheless, Digital Video said it will continue to offer a premium version of the Toonz software to companies that want customized solutions.
Free Access to Professional Tool
The announcement represents a major boon to smaller animation studios. The 2D professional-grade animation program used to cost thousands of dollars per license, making it difficult for even professional animators to afford personal versions.
Toonz originally debuted in 1993, and was eventually used by Studio Ghibli in its international hit “Princess Mononoke." The studio chose the software because it let them create a section of the film’s animation digitally, rather than through hand-drawn images, said Atsushi Okui, executive imaging director at Studio Ghibli.
“Our requirement was that in order to continue producing theatre-quality animation without additional stress, the software must have the ability to combine the hand-drawn animation with the digitally painted ones seamlessly,” he said in a statement.
Over the years, Studio Ghibli has continued to use the software, as have a number of other animation studios, such as the makers of the “Futurama” television series. The open source version of Toonz will be officially presented in Tokyo at Anime Japan, which begins March 26.
Image Credit: Screenshot via Toonz Premium Animation Software Web site.
Posted: 2016-04-07 @ 8:13pm PT
TOONZ is probably well established now and I would be interested to view examples of works produced.