Press Release


Video LunchBox used in production of top animated shows

March 15, 1999. Sherwood, Ore. -- Stop-motion animation is experiencing a resurgence on television, thanks to a "little black box." Hit stop-motion TV series such as "The PJs" (Fox), "Celebrity Deathmatch" (MTV) and "A Little Curious" (HBO) are all created using Animation Toolworks' Video LunchBox. This revolutionary device is literally changing the way stop-motion animation is done, making it easier, faster and more viable as a TV production medium.

Created less than two years ago by Sherwood, Oregon-based Animation Toolworks, the Video LunchBox is a device used to capture still images from a video camera and playback this sequence of images at the same rate as film images or television video. It enables animators to instantly test their work in progress, monitoring pacing, lighting, and registration. This early, rapid testing eliminates time-consuming errors and allows for confident, rapid progress during animation. The LunchBox's instant feedback also makes it possible to quickly and cheaply try alternatives, resulting in bolder animation. Besides the productivity and quality improvements, the instant feedback makes animating fun again. Hundreds of the devices have been installed in animation studios and educational facilities around the world, including MTV Animation, Will Vinton Studios, Tippett Studios, Curious Pictures, the National Film Board of Canada, as well as the California Institute of the Arts, the USC Film School, UCLA Animation Workshop, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and Philadelphia University of the Arts.

Will Vinton Studios in Portland, Oregon uses 2 dozen of its 35 LunchBoxes in the production of its weekly stop-motion animated series, "The PJs," which has been garnering winning ratings on the Fox network since its debut in January. John Logue, a director on the series, says "No reservation, the Video LunchBox is one of the greatest tools available. It is helping our schedule, is so handy for training, and is a big help towards improving the quality of the animation. I’m sure we wouldn’t be able to do this weekly series without the Video LunchBox."

At MTV Animation in New York, animators on the outrageous animated series, "Celebrity Deathmatch" use Video LunchBoxes to test animation as it is shot digitally. Using the Video LunchBox, "Deathmatch" animators have as much as doubled their output speed. Supervising director Marc Lougee says he is shooting one and one half seconds per hour, whereas his previous record, before the Video LunchBox, was one second per hour. He explains: "Shots that took 14-15 hours now took 7 hours and looked great. The Video LunchBox saves huge amounts of time, saves huge amounts of work and speeds up the whole production."

Lougee describes how being able to see his animation instantly has also freed his creative process: "Before the animations were more conservative. With the Video LunchBox I am making more adventurous shots. The action is more dynamic. This makes it fun. I can try things I never would have done before, like wide angle extreme close ups."

Sarah Meyer, an animator on Celebrity Deathmatch concurs: "I couldn't survive without a animation has improved greatly. I can't believe I even survived as long as I did only being able to scroll through my frames in the "truncate movie" option of the stop motion capture in Premiere. Now, I can get the timing exactly the way I want it."

Nearby, at Curious Pictures, animators are using the Video LunchBox to create "A Little Curious," a mixed-media series for pre-schoolers on HBO. Peter Sluszka, Animator, has experienced similar creative liberation: "The Video LunchBox is a liberating tool that allows for a more spontaneous and improvisational approach to animation without compromising control. Animators now have the luxury of taking bigger risks and exploring ideas without jeopardizing their shot."

Hunt Squibb, Director, "A Little Curious," says: "The LunchBox can be used to link up to the successful portion of a shot and record over the unusable portion. This allows me to know that the link up is smooth and the shot is salvageable. This feature saved us a day of animation recently and kept us on schedule."

The Video LunchBox is also being used to do independent films, commercials, PC games (the Neverhood), and segments of television shows (MAD TV, Sesame Street, Kablaam!, etc.). Mark Osborne's short film, More, nominated for an Academy Award "relied heavily upon the Video LunchBox". In addition, the Video LunchBox is used widely in education. It's extraordinarily easy to use. AV Video/Multimedia Producer called the Video LunchBox "a triumph in human-factors design." That's part of the reason that it is being used in programs for at-risk students, in elementary schools, intermediate schools, children's museums, high schools, universities and art schools.

Animation Toolworks serves professional animators and animation students by providing tools to reduce their cost and reinforce their creativity. Animation Toolworks' first product, the Video LunchBox, is used for pencil test and motion studies. The Video LunchBox is widely used by traditional and stop motion animators, and in universities, high schools, and even elementary schools.


"10 times more capable than it was before, and it's still easy"

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