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Paperless and Cutout Animation Workflow

Paperless Animation Workflow
The paperless workflow is a mix
between traditional animation and digital
animation workflow. While some steps can
all be done in the animation software and
simultaneously, some other steps, like
animation, animation clean-up and ink and
paint, require that the previous steps be
done completely before moving to the next.
simplified version and then move to the
next graphic explaining in more details how
the various steps connect.
A paperless production is meant to
use a very small amount of paper or
eliminate it altogether. In this workflow
example, we tried to eliminate a maximum
number of traditional steps and keep all of
the steps in an integrated pipeline.
Other than the script, audio recording and post-production, all of the tasks are
accomplished within the animation software.
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Cut-out Animation Workflow
A cut-out production (digital
puppet animation) reuses a lot of
assets, saves time, keeps a maximum
amount of work in the same studio and
reduces the amount of resources and
budget needed. We eliminated as many
traditional and hand-drawn steps as
possible and kept all of the steps in an
integrated pipeline.
Familiarize yourself with this
simplified version and then move to
the next graphic explaining in more
details how the various steps connect.
recording, every other step in the cutout workflow should be done in the
animation software. It is also a type of
assignments can be done simultaneously, especially during the design and development
Since the storyboard does not absolutely need to follow model sheets, it is possible for
a team to do both the storyboard and designs at the same time, as compared to a traditional
workflow where the storyboard artist must have all the models ready before starting.
Character and Prop Rigging
The rigging step is really important in the cut-out workflow. The person doing the rigs
has to take the final character or prop model and start building the puppet. This means
deciding which parts will be separated and preparing all of the joints and views for the
Once the parts are broken down, the character or prop must be rigged. This means
attaching the parts (hierarchy) and assigning the appropriate pivot points. This step must be
done with care because these puppets will be distributed among all the animators later and
you do not want to duplicate mistakes throughout the project.
The character and prop rigging can be done in many ways. It is important to do this
step correctly, as these puppets will be duplicated over and over throughout the whole
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When the character and prop rigs are ready, the rigging artist stores them in the library
as templates to be shared with the rest of the team.
The library is a central element of a digital cut-out production. It contains all the assets
for the animation and scene set up.
The library is a central location where all these templates are stored, organized and
made available to the animators and scene setup team. The library should be structured so
that everyone using it can easily find the assets they require. Someone should be assigned
to manage the library so that it remains well organized. This person is often the breakdown
artist, but it depends on each studio's structure.
When the library is built, the scene setup person and the animators will start using
the assets.
The library is typically managed by the rigging artist or assets team. It is important to
keep the library organized, as it's a central piece in the animator's project. The artist creates
folders and organizes each pertinent file, so that neither the scene set-up artist nor the
animator will be required to search randomly when looking for particular pieces of material.
It is essential that this job be done correctly in order for the team to remain efficient
throughout production.
Scene Setup
The scene setup consists of preparing the scenes for the animators and is similar to
the traditional layout and posing. Following the storyboard and the animatic, the person
working on the scene setup will import the assets needed for the scene animation, as well as
import the animatic reference and often position the camera.
When the scene setup is completed, the scene can be passed on to the animator who
can start animating without having to mount the scene.
Cut-out animation is a vast subject. There are many techniques employed by different
studios and animators. Basically, the animator moves the parts frame by frame to
animate the puppet. The animator may even start their own pre-compositing, camera
moves, and trajectories. This depends on the user's workflow. Once the animation is
completed and approved, the scene goes to the final compositing and effects.
The animation technique has to conform with the rigging technique. The studio must
establish its profile in order to determine which direction to take.
Here are the choices for the type of animation:
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Open rig technique with motion keyframe animation
Open rig or mixed rig technique with stop-motion or motion keyframe animation
Complete hierarchy rigging technique with motion keyframe animation or open rig
technique with a mix of stop-motion and motion keyframe animation
Complete hierarchy rigging technique with motion keyframe animation or open rig with
stop-motion keyframe animation
In certain situations, paperless animation mix can help increase the quality of a cut-
out animation.
In a small team, the animators will animate their own effects, whereas a bigger team
can have one effect animator to help the cut-out animators.
The compositor imports the coloured background, animatic reference and sound as
required. Referring to the exposure sheet, animatic and animation, the compositor assembles
all these elements and creates the camera moves and other necessary motions. Finally, the
compositor adds any digital effects required by the scene. These can include tones, highlights
and shadows. When the compositing is completed, the final step is the rendering.
Compositing is generally a bit more advanced and complex for a cut-out production
than for a traditional or tradigital one. The compositor verifies that a scene has been animated
and coloured, and then will apply camera moves, peg moves, effect and final touch-ups to
the scene.
On a small team, the animators will probably do their own compositing. In a mediumsize studio, there will be two or three compositors.
Export - Render
Once the compositing is completed, the last step is to render the scene as a movie or
an image sequence. Generally, the compositor will be the same person doing the render.
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