HD Option A Big Hit For MyToons

MyToons only launched its high definition channel a few months ago but already it’s attracting attention from several major TV and film studios.
Paul Ford, president of the animation website, spoke to HDTV.biz-news.com about the burgeoning HD animation community and the challenges of offering high def cartoons on the internet.

It’s one thing to stick a home-movie onto YouTube, quite another to create animation in high definition.

Yet just a few months after launching its HD channel the cutting-edge animation site MyToons has become the leading showcase for high def cartoons.

Paul Ford, MyToons’ president, said the number of HD uploads was growing rapidly and he expected that to continue as increasing numbers of animators presented their work.

He described the quality and detail of the HD creations as mind-blowing.

"People are taking to HD like mad," he said. "It’s been very well-received by both the animators and the fans. In fact, we’ve had calls from several major TV and film studios looking to licence the technology."

Making animations in HD presents its own challenges

Ford said there was a big difference between making online user-created video and animated content.

He said creating YouTube-style content – with a handy cam or camcorder – was not really that difficult to do.

"You think up a story or a bit, run around and shoot some stuff, maybe edit it in a consumer editor like Movie Maker or iMovie, and you’re done," he said.

But Ford believed creating animated content, on any level, was much more difficult.

"To create animation – and I mean any kind of animation, generally – there is far more thought, and far more preparation and planning involved," he said.

"Usually the story comes first, and that takes time to develop. Next are the dialogue and music tracks, story boards and possibly animatics (animated storyboards).
"Finally, after a lot more work creating the final piece, you are done."

Ford said in between was many hours of tedious work drawing in 2D, modelling in 3D, creating backgrounds and props and crafting each frame of each scene.

"This art does take a good amount of time to create. Much longer than user-created video, for sure," he said. "Creating animation in HD really takes things up yet another notch.

"Not only does the animator need to think about and do all of the stuff I’ve already discussed, they need computers with the horse power to do it at HD resolution. This means long render times and huge files."

Technology Delivers Online Cartoons

Ford described the MyToons HD player technology as "second to none", adding that it wasn’t necessary to download a proprietary player as was the case with some of the non-animation HD video sites.

But to get to the stage of being able to stream HD via the internet MyToons first had to do some "very, very tricky things".

"Our HD is not progressive. In other words, a person is not downloading the file first, or a portion of it, and then able to view the file," he said.

"MyToons HD is more like real television. You hit play, and it starts right up. Our player is able to read the HD data in realtime, giving the viewer that ‘instant-on’ experience they are used to."

Based in San Antonio, Texas, MyToons was established in 2006 as an online resource and entertainment destination for professional animators, students, artists and animation fans.

The attraction for animators or creators of having their work on MyToons is that it offers them a robust and reliable distribution platform at the quality level they expect, according to Ford.

"Animators are finicky when it comes to quality," he said. "That’s why many, many animators I talk to regularly simply won’t put their stuff up on places like YouTube.

"That work is usually so personal and so carefully crafted-to-perfection – it’s really seen by the creator as a direct reflection, of sorts, of themselves – and usually a labor of love.

"Giving animators everywhere the ability to have their work experienced as they intended and envisioned is very powerful stuff."

HD Audience Growing

In August, MyToons announced a global partnership to bring its animated content to Vuze’s 30 million member worldwide audience.

Setting up such partner channels was a means of giving independent animators even greater reach and more exposure.

"We will continue with these partnerships because they are good for our members, and we always put the animator first – what’s good for them, is good for MyToons," said Ford.

"We think that these channels add to MyToons, and don’t take away from it. We find many people coming directly from those channels to MyToons-proper to get more of the good stuff."

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