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Animating Change

Rethinking the way we make animations.

Something's brewing here at Tentacle. Something that's been a long time in the making but also not...

...let me explain. We've been developing an "unconventional" animation workflow in order to produce our new animated series Dungeon Man.

Put simply, we have the goal of making engaging, high quality animation; fast and at low cost. Obviously we have to be realistic, we're not making studio Ghibli levels of meticulously hand drawn animation. But we do want to create a unique style that has been developed by us and is consistent through the animation, easy to watch and can effectively tell the story.

The pre-production follows a pretty familiar path. The character designs and style develelopment is something we've been working on over a number of years. The script was developed in a traditional was as was the styoryboard and animatic.

Then things get a bit more... unfamiliar.

The characters are drawn in photoshop, they are designed as multifunction puppets so that can be used in Adobe Character Animator as well as After Effects.

Character Animator is a tool that Adobe has been gradually improving over several years, it is effectively a puppeteering tool that uses your webcam to allow you to control a character and record your performance. It has a certain "look" to it as its puppeteered rather that animated, but we've leaned into that with the animation style. Using this in conjunction with more traditional animation techniques has allowed us to greatly speed up the animation process.

The backgrounds and a lot of the props were generated in Adobe Firefly, using firefly 2 and various style references that we drew ourselves. This process took a lot of trial and error but we wanted to ensure the output images were close to what we had originally envisioned. Although we were at times inspired by what the AI created.

We edited the files from firefly in photoshop to either extend a background or add or remove elements as needed.

I think the key thing here is that a lot of this software and our understanding of how to integrate it into our workflows is in its infancy. The potential it shows to offer a much faster production process for animation is incredible.

There are obvious dangers that a flood of content could be produced at very low costs, so I believe the important point is to maintain a level of artistic integrity. Using AI as a tool to increase productivity. People will always want to watch animations made by people, so it's imperative that that human element shines through, which I hope it does here. AI would never come up with anything this inane!

You can watch the Pilot episode for our exciting new series Dungeon Man here!


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