Big Bad Boo
When Big Bad Boo launched its first animated children’s program, they had to divide preproduction between studios in New York and Los Angeles while animation was contracted to the Philippines.
Then, in 2007 and halfway through production of Mixed Nutz (a multicultural comedy about a group of kids who feel they don’t fit in), co-founders Aly Jetha and Shabnam Rezaei decided that they needed a more centralized approach. They opened the doors of Big Bad Boo as a dedicated production facility in Vancouver, B.C. They then started their own distribution company, called OzNoz Productions, and implemented an all-digital workflow by purchasing 14 Wacom Cintiq 21UX interactive pen displays.
No More Waiting in Line At the Scanner
The Cintiq digital pipeline immediately introduced tremendous time-savings as Big Bad Boo completed Mixed Nutz, which will soon premiere on PBS and Shaw Communications. The most significant efficiencies were in the storyboarding and layout processes, where paper boards and constant trips to the scanner were completely eliminated. Now, Big Bad Boo has undertaken its first production that was done entirely with Cintiqs, which include 26 11-minute episodes of One Thousand and One Nights, an animated comedy targeting the 6-to-9 age group based on the ancient Persian tales of Scheherazade.
Previously, artists needed to paste pieces of paper on the storyboard panel indicating changes or draw them in and rescan the board. Now, storyboard revisions are drawn directly onto the Cintiq’s 21-inch LCD screen in Photoshop Creative Suite and Toon Boom Storyboard Pro using Wacom’s pen technology, where an animatic is created prior to final animation in Toon Boom Harmony.
“The Cintiq 21UX displays are crucial to our efforts from asset creation and management to final shipping,” say Rezaei and Jetha. “If you compare the storyboard process of Mixed Nutz to One Thousand and One Nights, you see that the Cintiq helped us accelerate production time by nearly 60 percent.”
Artists at Big Bad Boo also appreciate the pressure-sensitive pen that allows line weight variation simply by varying the drawing pressure of the pen. This works perfectly for achieving the textures and the rich lines needed for One Thousand and One Nights. Storyboard Artist Gordon Crum notes, “The Cintiq pen’s ability to mimic actual drawing on paper, such as the opacity of a pencil or the gradient in a line, is its biggest selling feature for artists.”
In addition to dramatic workflow acceleration and new creative options, Jetha cites another benefit of having Cintiqs in the pipeline: higher quality work.
Artists using the Cintiq’s expansive drawing surface are able to see an entire board at once, leading to better layout decisions, smoother transitions and better animation timing. “A lot of studios are cutting corners by using smaller tablets or using mouse input, making it difficult for layout artists to do their job right,” he says. “Because of the screen real estate that the Cintiq offers, we are not only doing faster work, but better work. I’m convinced of that.”