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A cute fox is plucked by a spaceship and becomes part of a cosmic adventure. Classical animation based on Michel Gagné's graphic novel.
880 backers pledged $57,875 to help bring this project to life.

The Complexity of Doing Classical Animation

Posted by Michel Gagne (Creator)

Classical animation is a very time consuming proposition. Unlike Flash, it does not use rigged puppets and automated inbetweens. Toon Boom Harmony, the software I'll be using on this project, has a puppet tool, but I will not be using that. The Saga of Rex will be hand drawn frame by frame. That's 24 drawings a second, for each character and each special effect. But the animation is only one of many functions I will be performing. In a typical traditionally animated film, each of the positions below has its own set of artists:

  • Story Board
  • Layout
  • Character Design
  • Color Scripting and Art direction
  • Background Painting
  • Rough Animation
  • Key Clean Up
  • Inbetween
  • Special Effects
  • Special Effects Assisting and Inbetweening
  • Color Model
  • Ink and Paint
  • Compositing
  • Sound and Editing
  • Music
  • Final Compositing and Rendering

So either I perform all these tasks myself or I hire help. Fortunately, I took care of some of these aspects when doing the graphic novel, but there's still so much to do. When I worked at Don Bluth Studios, we were expected to create roughly 3.5 seconds (5 feet of 35mm film) of rough character animation a week. And that was only the rough keys. Some of the star animators produced up to 10 seconds a week. To be completed, the animation still had to pass through several hands. No wonder feature quality traditional animation typically cost between $80,000 and $1,000,000 per minute to produce within the studio system.

Although the goals on my Kickstarter project are set at $15K per minute, this won't be the amount I'll be getting for the production. Kickstarter and its partner,, keep 10% of the proceeds. Then, around 40% of the budget is applied towards the rewards and shipping cost. So roughly, I am left with around $7.5k per minute.

Now, to produce the film with the quality I want to achieve, I estimate that I will be working roughly 50 hours a week over a 10-week period, for each minute I create.  Add to this, 7 weeks building and designing the campaign (that includes doing the animation test), running the campaign (which is turning out to be nearly a full time job), and a full month of work, fulfilling the rewards (packaging, printing, shipping, drawing, etc)—an estimate based on talking with several people who are dealing with their own successful campaigns—and you will see why I'm calling this a labor of love.

If I was doing flash, I'd do this in a quarter of the time, but this is not what I'm doing here. I want to do beautiful animation that harkens back to the Disney and Bluth classics. With your blessings and the expertise I've gained through the years working in various areas of production for feature films, television and games,  I feel up to the task.

  • Image 175562 original.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1


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    1. Hiram R. Maxem on

      Labor of love indeed! Michel, count me in if you need help assisting/inbetweening. I love little Rex, I can do some labor for free on weekends.

    2. Paul D. Zeke on

      wow you are an update machine. This is promising, as it indicates your production blog will be updated frequently and with great depth! I'm only a few years into my animation career, but seeing this done is very inspiring, and shows how many possibilities are our there. Keep it up, and best of luck on this project!

    3. Gemma Bright on

      I really admire the patience of those who produce feature-quality animation such as the contents of your teaser video. While I don't use Flash puppets, I don't know if I could dedicate myself to generating super-smooth motion like that.

    4. Uli Meyer on

      I'm amazed that you can afford to make one minute for so small a budget. I'm often amazed how even people within the industry have no clue how expensive it is to create full animation. If you had just one person working for each department you mentioned here and timed that by an average salary, even for just one week, the $7500 wouldn't pay for it. Good luck for doing it all on your own, you're probably one of the few who can take on such a task. Looking forward to the result.

    5. Ron on

      Love the old Don Bluth stuff. Was amazing. Glad you are going that route.