Ok, I am back from my trip and ready to share some results! First of all, much thanks to everyone who sent their words of support for my initiative. It was really awesome to have that feeling of being backed by whole community. ^__^
In that travel I wasn’t alone – lead artist of Morevna Project Anastasia Mayzhegisheva joined my trip. She has crowdfunded her ticket to film my talk and all related events. Right now she is processing the recorded videos and eventually will publish her video report. I am not sure if we will have resources to translate it into English, as there are too much information there, so I am going to outline the main highlights here.
TL;DR: We are cooperating with SoyuzMultFilm animation studio on writing submission for their project on software development.
Actually, the hardest part was the beginning – our flight was delayed for 7 hours because of weather conditions. Because of flight delay we were forced to move the meeting with Morevna fans from March 11th to next day. The 12th of march was Monday, but despite of that several people come by to meet us. I was happy to met in person our long-standing patron Nataly Novak, as well as editor of “Libre Graphics World” Alexandre Prokoudine.
We have spent a nice warm evening with cookies, talking about Morevna, free software and animation. Also we watched and discussed the latest production snapshot of Morevna Episode 4 (it will be published for our Patrons in my next production report).
2. Talk at SuzdalFest
Next day we traveled from Moscow to Suzdal Fest.
My talk was on March 16th, but in fact it is started several days earlier. For the days before the talk we’ve been all around and communicated with many people. They all asked what we do and why did we traveled such a long way from Gorno-Altaisk. Every time I was describing “why” – and that never fit in “two words”, so every time that was a kind of “rehearsal” to my upcoming public talk. So, on March 16th at my presentation we had a plenty of people who had already been warmed up.
Also, Dmitry Kazakov from Krita joined us on the festival. He’s been all busy preparing upcoming release of Krita 4.0, but he has found time to attend the talk and drop a few words of support for discussion.
While Anastasia is editing full video of the talk, I would like to share a quick excerpt of it.
After talk many people asked if we have a training course about OpenToonz, similar to ones we have for Synfig and for Blender cutout. I have acknowledged this interest and it is very likely that we are going to start developing a training course for OpenToonz soon.
During discussions I have found an interesting tendency that many people already associate OpenToonz as possible replacement for TVPaint. This is where I would like to take a chance and say many thanks to everyone, who donated to integration of MyPaint brush engine into OpenToonz.
One more important discovery was a significant demand for stop-motion software – many people come by to ask if OpenToonz can be replacement of DragonFrame. Right now OpenToonz already has some features for stop-motion animation, but all people wanted support for DSLR (which isn’t there), so my answer was “not at the moment”. On the other hand, acknowledging that demand made me think seriously on the topic that I didn’t considering before.
It turns out that Russian animation industry have a huge segment which utilizes stop-motion technique. That segment is composed of 3 sub-segments: individual artists, professional animation studios and animation studios for children. Together they conform a huge community. In overwhelming majority of 98% they use Canon DSLR as hardware and Dragon Frame as software. So, from one hand we have a segment with low competition, and on the other hand – a significant demand for full-featured free software solution for stop-motion. Last, but not least – OpenToonz is just a few steps away from filling that niche. By introducing support for Canon DSLR (which isn’t really a big deal, since we can get code from Entangle) we can easily capture that segment and enter the market from the point where no one expect us.
Just think about that: with a proper DSLR support people will get a full-featured solution for stop-motion, but in addition to that they will get all other features of OpenToonz (multi-layer capability, compositing features, ability to paint on frames directly from the same application, etc). Many of people/studios are using stop-motion in combination with other animation techniques, so they eventually and unavoidable will start exploring other functions of OpenToonz. And since people generally inclined for integrated solutions (they prefer to stick with familiar environment), we have all chances to expand into adjacent areas of production. Another strong point is adoption in animation studios for children – because this is where the future of animation community is built.
3. Workshop at Moscow’s Theatrical College of Art and Technology
After my talk I also got an invitation to visit Moscow’s Theatrical College of Art and Technology to give a quick workshop about OpenToonz for students of their animation faculty. On March 20th I had half of the day free, so of course I didn’t missed this opportunity. I already had previous experience on giving OpenToonz workshops and had all neccessary files with me, so there were no problem with that.
On the workshop I’ve got a full auditory of students. I did my best to give them the most in those 2 hours I had. Great feedback and, again – lots of requests for OpenToonz training course.
4. SoyuzMultFilm animation studio
On 19th and 20th of March we had two visits to SoyuzMultFilm animation studio. The most interesting part of the travel!
I repeated my presentation of OpenToonz for employers of the studio and met with members of directors board. We discussed the situation with President’s grant for funding animation software development and possibilities of adoption of open-source solutions for animation.
It turned out that the studio decided to give up on waiting for results of the grant and started their own initiative to gather funding for building their own project, which is focused on providing an independent animation solutions and services.
After my presentation they got convinced to include OpenToonz as one of the main components and invited me to cooperate on preparing the initial submission for this project. Also, they got fascinated by the idea of RenderChan.
So, last two weeks we are in the process of intensive discussion, which fluctuates between OpenToonz and RenderChan, with some considerations for Synfig and Blender. Again, that’s lots of paper writing, but luckily this time my role is mainly planning and consultation, while the main routines are done by studio staff. It is still unclear if the studio will get all necessary funding for this project and how exactly it will be carried out (discussion goes on), but the work what we already gone through has lead me to some interesting ideas and conclusions. The most important thing is that on the studio I see people who are really interested in our work and looking for a ways to help.
Those are the main results of the trip as of today. I am sure more news will follow and I will keep you updated about any further progress on that matter.
At the end of my report I would like to say much thanks to everyone who supported my initiative for that trip and backed my crowdfunding campaign, which allowed me to take this travel.
Thank you for your trust, for your faith and support. Thank you for making this all happen!