THE CUT-OUT ANIMATION TECHNIQUE
Most commonly, 2D "cartoons" are created using the "cel" animation technique, (Disney, Warner Bros etc.). This requires each character to be re-drawn for every frame of the animation. "Cut-out" animation, as seen above, avoids some of this re-drawing by using characters made up from a library of heads, bodies, arms and legs etc, which are then assembled and moved into different positions for each consecutively animated frame. In this respect, the technique has more in common with 3D puppet animation or claymation, than with 2D cel animation. The characters are in effect, 2D puppets.
The use of cut-outs, allows us to incorporate more textures, washes, airbrush, photos, etc. giving the animations a more varied and child friendly "book-look", rather than the typically black outlined and flat coloured appearance associated with "cartoons". Even the need to stylise and simplify the imagery can be particularly appropriate when making films for young children.
On a more practical level, the "cut-out" technique enables us to create fairly large amounts of animation with relatively few people. This has the advantage of being cost effective. Working as a small unit also enables us to have a more spontaneous and personalised approach to film-making.
THE DIGITAL CUT-OUT TECHNIQUE
Initially, most computer animation software was geared towards producing 3D or "cel" animation. We had used computers for specific purposes in our work for some time, but had resisted the temptation to fully join the digital revolution until we could create cut-out animation that looked and moved in a way that was recognisably ours.
In 1998 we were introduced
to "CreaToon", which was a PC based software programme specifically aimed at
animating cut-out shapes. The software was being developed by the Belgian company
ANDROME and Limburg University. With the help and support from the team at ANDROME
(Thanks Liesbeth, Frank, Wim and Raf), we conducted trials of the new software
and had a substantial input into the way that "CreaToon"
This opened up many new and exciting possibilities for us, not least of which was the capacity to take on larger projects. We have taken part in numerous EU funded R&D projects (CoSa, Erasta, 3Dinctrap, CUSTODIEV) which have enhanced our ability to work even more efficiently.