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Animation software used by Studio Ghibli is going open source

Toonz, the software that animators at Studio Ghibli used for classics like Princess Mononoke, is going open source. Italian studio Digital Video made a deal with Japanese media company Dwango, enabling Dwango to produce and release a free version of the tool, called OpenToonz, for the international animation community.

Making Toonz a world standard for 2D animation

"The contract with Dwango," said Digital Video managing director Claudio Mattei, "which offers the Toonz open source platform to the animation community, has enabled Digital Video to realize one of its strategies, i.e. to make of Toonz a world standard for 2D animation."

Toonz first saw release in 1993, and is used to turn hand-drawn art into vector graphics. The most recent version can turn a single drawing into a complete animated sequence. Studio Ghibli in particular has been using Toonz since 1995, when the animation house needed software to digitally render a sequence in the film.

"Our requirement was that in order to continue producing theatre-quality animation without additional stress, the software must have the ability to combine the hand-drawn animation with the digitally painted ones seamlessly," said Atsushi Okui, Studio Ghibli's executive imaging director. The OpenToonz software will include features created by the studio, so animators can make use of the techniques the group pioneered over the years.

Toonz was also used by Rough Draft Studios for Futurama

Toonz is also used by Rough Draft Studios, the group behind Futurama and The Simpsons Movie. Going forward, Digital Video intends on producing a premium version of the software. However, the free version will surely help animators hone their craft without spending a pretty penny.