We use many different applications to create our animations, from Storyboard Pro and Photoshop to create visuals and concepts through to Adobe After effects, Anime studio, Apple Motion and Toon Boom Harmony to carry out the animations.
Each bit of software brings it’s own unique set of tools, so we often dip in and out of all of them at some point during the production of an animated video. For me one of my favourite and most used applications is Toon Boom Harmony. The learning curve within Toon Boom is steep for anyone who hasn’t worked with similar animation software. But for those coming over from software like Adobe Flash, now know as Adobe Animate, they will find some similarities but much of Toon Boom’s approach is very focused around an extension of traditional animation unlike Flash’s history of being a user interface design tool. This means there are many features buried deep within Toon Boom’s tool set that make animating more efficient and flexible. Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but that can said of any software.
One of the main things when working across multiple software is trying to ensure consistency, most noticeable of which can be colour. Typically within our post production process we spend a good deal of time tweaking each scene and ensuring the final video render has a consistent colour and feel. Something that has always been an issue is the various export options within Toon Boom that can drastically effect the colour output of a render.
A notable example of this can be seen in this image, from an identical Toon Boom file, I did a render using H264 which tends to be my go-to format as this is quick and creates a small file size, ideal for checking work as you go. Once I am completely happy the final render would be exported using ‘Animation+’ set to ‘best’. As you can see the colours are very different. H264 exports tend to be very flat from Toon Boom and whilst this can be fixed in post production it’s obviously better to keep it as close to the correct ‘look’ as possible.
Using the Animate+ export creates a much bigger file, typically 4 times bigger than a standard H264 but the colours are sharper and richer and we find requires much less post work. I don’t pretend to understand the technical reasons why the colours should vary so drastically between the 2 outputs, but ultimately as long as the software provides me with options to get what I want, then i can work with it.
So for those of you struggling with flat looking renders, you can either fix this in post production or try experimenting with different render outputs, you will be amazed how different they can be.