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Reanimating the Tooniverse | Backstage Toontown

Posted by The Toontown Team on February 20, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Hey there, and welcome to the latest edition of Toontown's Backstage column, where we get a look at everything that goes on behind-the-scenes here on the Toontown Team. Today, we're going to take a look at our new pipeline for Toon animation.

My name is Andrew (but you can call me Ziggy), and I've been a 3D Artist and Technical Artist for Toontown Rewritten since 2014. My job is to bridge the gap between art and programming. Heads up: This post may be more technical than our typical Backstage columns.

Reanimating the Tooniverse


The Character Rig Rigmarole

A couple years ago, we started working on a project that’d give animators the wonderful ability to create new Toon animation for Toontown Rewritten. What made this an even bigger challenge, however, is that we needed it to work with the existing animation as well! We called this project: Toontown Rerigged!

This original pipeline update, which you can read about in my previous Backstage post, was achieved by setting the Toon’s character rig to function exactly as Toontown Online’s would have.

Riggy Marole's character rig with an animation example.

"What’s a character rig?" Good question! It’s kind of like a puppet. A puppet's strings allow the puppeteer to control its movement. Similarly, a character rig gives animators to control a character's movement. As Toons come in many shapes and sizes, we built six of these character rigs to cover our bases. Seven, if you include our ToonFest mascot, Riggy Marole.

Speaking of which, have you spotted Riggy Marole recently? Congratulations! You caught a glimpse of what Toontown Rerigged could do for you. (Boy, the strings that we gave him!)

However, as we continued to research Toontown Online's character rig and animation, an assortment of problems gradually unveiled themselves to us. These rigs had many underlying issues that we didn't quite anticipate. Issues that limited the true potential of our fellow Toons like you or I.

Various notes displaying broken features of the Toontown Online rig.


Starting from Scratch

To trace the source of these problems, we needed to take a look at the game's history. Back in 2010, the Toontown Online team was in the process of transitioning their character rigs from the now defunct Softimage to a more updated piece of software called Autodesk Maya.

An example of a broken animation in a Cog Battle.

From our analysis, the goal seemed not too different from ours: They wanted to allow their artists to add to and polish their decade old library of 1,000+ animation files. Unfortunately, their ambitious goals were cut short, and we are left with an incomplete remnant of what may have been.

With this in mind, we have rebuilt our entire Rerigged pipeline from scratch in order to fulfill the Toontown Online team's original task. The new bodies are heavily based on the pre-2010 versions, as well as taking advantage of changes made post-2010. We wanted to use the added knowledge our team has gained to produce the most faithful representation and best quality animation we can deliver, continuing the vision that the Toontown Online team had over 8 years ago.

To fix the problems with Toontown Online's character rigs and animation, we decided that it was best to revamp the whole thing. This meant building new character rigs, transfer every existing animation currently available, and polishing them up. That was a monumental task! We knew, however, that the end result would be worth it.

With all this effort being put into redoing things, the project needed a new name! And thus, we called the new project... Toontown Re-Rerigged! (Or, for simplicity's sake, Rerigged 2.0.)

A comparison between the old Toontown Online character rig and new Toontown Rewritten character rig.

Our Make-a-Toon Tool

Let’s be honest: We would much rather be working on the more creative elements of the game, rather than spending all of our time creating new character rigs for every Toon in Toontown and manually transferring their old animation. To solve that dilemma, we built a custom tool that does all of the hard work for us!


This tool is designed to make Toon character rigging quick and painless. This allows our team to go straight into the animation process, rather than spending heaps of time manually creating the same character rig for every type of Toon.

A Toon doing a hula dance with rig controls.

The new character rigs also feature some new quality-of-life improvements over our previous ones. For instance, hands are easier than ever to move fluidly, which saves our animators a lot of headache and makes for more natural movement. Animating a hula dance? We gotcha covered with automatic skirt and shadow controls!

We also built tools that worked through the 1,000+ existing animation files and applied them onto our new character rigs. Now, just as the Toontown Online team attempted all those years ago, we can improve upon a decades worth of existing animation. We're already getting started on making use of the technology, and you'll be sure to see it on display with our upcoming content for 2018.

Putting It Into Practice

Using the Toon rig controls to wave 'Goodbye!'

I hope that you're as excited as I am to see Toons come to life in new ways! These character rigs will be hitting Toontown soon, which will fix some of the broken animation we've shown you in this post. Keep your eyes peeled for other ways we'll be making use of these character rigs in future updates. If you spot a Toon animation that isn’t quite goofy, extraordinary silly, or (worst of all!) can’t make you laugh -- let us know so we can make it better.

If you found this post interesting and would like to contribute to our quest to Reanimate the Tooniverse, check out our Application Page with the new Character Rigger application! With your help, we can bring life to the wacky world of Toontown as it was meant to be.


Comments

Sorry! Comments are closed.

David Funnyglow said on February 20, 2018 at 2:06 PM
wow! toontown in animation parts!

Fluffy the Deer said on February 20, 2018 at 2:14 PM
Finally! i get to see the animations!

Brody/Prism said on February 20, 2018 at 2:14 PM
This is awesome! I can't wait!

deputy wittygrin said on February 20, 2018 at 2:19 PM
cool hope this comes out soon!

Beanroni said on February 20, 2018 at 2:20 PM
Always glad to see a post on the site! Especially a backstage post!

Darwin said on February 20, 2018 at 2:37 PM
Can we actually get this in game?

Kit (101) laff said on February 20, 2018 at 2:38 PM
to be honest I have never seen anything like this.

Slate said on February 20, 2018 at 2:39 PM
Amazing! I gotta get a load of that hula dance!

Little Vicky said on February 20, 2018 at 2:43 PM
Great job TTR artists/animators!

Honesty said on February 20, 2018 at 3:00 PM
Simply amazing! We all love the hard work you guys do to make Toontown.... Toontown!

Sea Buttercup said on February 20, 2018 at 3:09 PM
I love all things animation, yes!!

Miss Halloween said on February 20, 2018 at 3:18 PM
Looks great! Can't wait for the deer and crocodiles to be more animated too! Their expressions are a little dull when you want them to laugh, be furious, surprised, cry or be delighted. Also thanks for making to cogs more animated too!

Fat Wackybubble said on February 20, 2018 at 4:07 PM
Why does it say “game” throughout the website? Anyways, the work and improvements you’ve made is truly awe-inspiring! Thanks for all you do!

Bananatooth The Banana Peel said on February 20, 2018 at 4:39 PM
Wow! I am so excited! Good luck and great job so far TTR team! :D

Bananatooth The Banana Peel said on February 20, 2018 at 4:41 PM
Wow! I am so excited! Great job so far TTR team and good luck! I love TTR myself and I can not wait! :D

Sir said on February 20, 2018 at 4:59 PM
the hula dance should be real

Swinklewink said on February 20, 2018 at 5:03 PM
Woah, this looks ridiculously toony! Can't wait to see these awesome changes! (Glad the ways the toons look arent changing haha)

doctor z. z. featherquack said on February 20, 2018 at 5:08 PM
Wowza! Amazing! Truly appreciate all the hard work you techy guys do. My next cog battle will be in your honor.

Chef Cookie Bananabatch said on February 20, 2018 at 5:11 PM
I'd really like it if the toon up animations were tweeked. The length of the animations make it annoying to sit through (especially when maxing in buildings with friends). The one that really needs to be changed is the lipstick one since SOS cards use it for the restock and it takes FOREVER. Some people even take advantage of it taking so long and use them to annoy other players with useless restocks when everyone has full gags or when the team needs everyone to choose a gag. Thanks TTR team!

Slappy Sourflap said on February 20, 2018 at 5:12 PM
YES! YES! YES! I AM CHEERING OUT LOUD, AND MY FAMILY IS THINKING I'M CRAZY!! FINALLY, MY DREAMS OF THEM UPDATING THE ANIMATIONS IS COMPLETE!

sunfall said on February 20, 2018 at 5:30 PM
i cant wait! new animation part i love ttr update you guys are doing great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pancake said on February 20, 2018 at 5:42 PM
Nice job TTR animators!

Oscie said on February 20, 2018 at 6:21 PM
It's looking good! Can't wait to see what else the animation team has in store for us!

Reminance said on February 20, 2018 at 6:27 PM
Character rigging and animation has always interested me, glad your doing this for us and I wish you good luck with the rest! You're doing great!

Dr. Finn Wildboing said on February 20, 2018 at 6:50 PM
wow! this is gonna be awesome!

Chamomile said on February 20, 2018 at 7:25 PM
ohh! I take 3D animation classes in school, and seeing the before and after in Maya is so fantastic, wow. I can see like all the little details (outside of not hovering anymore, haha!) in that one comparison gif, like how it's less janky, and stiff, and how the model's head doesn't awkwardly jerk anymore at the beginning of the jump - that's all so cool!! Can't wait to see how it turns out!!

Mr. Max said on February 20, 2018 at 7:31 PM
Amazing! Thanks for the updates, TTR Team! The animations look so smooth, they are amazing!

Good Ole' Pickles Mczoom said on February 20, 2018 at 7:34 PM
Awesome! I had been wondering how you guys(and gals!) had managed to get the animations and stuff to work(or at least some of it). Stay wacky!

Susan Twinklepaws said on February 20, 2018 at 7:42 PM
Woah! This is a lot of animating! Cant wait!

Ninja T. said on February 20, 2018 at 8:53 PM
Can't wait! I know not to get my hopes too high but, would be cool to see the items on the streets animate too. The mailboxes, trashcans, etc. could really make use of this stuff. Great job, ttr team on figuring out how to set this all up so efficiently!

Buster said on February 20, 2018 at 11:24 PM
Lookin' good! :D

presto said on February 21, 2018 at 1:52 AM
looks great. Great work all ! Really appreciate all the work you all do, love toon town and love the job you all are doing !!!

Baby Roxie said on February 21, 2018 at 3:19 AM
Yay! Can't wait to also see if maybe, just maybe, there might be a texture update as well for building and such. But until then, this is soo cool!

Candy Lemonswirl (106) said on February 21, 2018 at 4:00 AM
Nice! Can't wait to see the improved animations! (And all the little clips remind me a little bit of MMD/MikuMikuDance, which is a good thing!)

Weird Cricket said on February 21, 2018 at 4:13 AM
cant wait to see all the cool animations that come with the rigging!

Little Daffy Weaselgoober said on February 21, 2018 at 5:24 AM
That hula dance is on POINT!

Precious said on February 21, 2018 at 5:48 AM
Awesome!! Can't wait!!

Comet said on February 21, 2018 at 6:31 AM
Kind of interested to see how this turns out.

Firestar said on February 21, 2018 at 6:58 AM
Nice job improving the missed cog attack animation!

Aunt Squeaky said on February 21, 2018 at 8:57 AM
I love animation! I wish I could help TTR out, but I can only 2D animate, haha. Great job, TTR team! :)

AsenVelchov said on February 21, 2018 at 9:16 AM
Amazing!!!!Keep it up.

Andrea said on February 21, 2018 at 11:10 AM
All that animation must cost a dollar or two, my goodness!! Thanks for all your hard work TTR Team!!

Toon said on February 21, 2018 at 11:40 AM
Wow! What a story! It's been a while since we've had a Backstage post in TTR. You know what I would like to see from the new animations? More new & even unique animations to existing cutscenes in the game, like those from the Cog HQ boss battles in-between their phases, all needed to be storyboarded. Let's be honest, seeing reused, recycled animations made those scenes very bland and stale, even from the Toons, NPCs, C.F.O., C.J. & C.E.O.. I've got the eyes for it. Hope we get to see many more new animations very soon!

Dodie said on February 21, 2018 at 2:41 PM
Wow! I can't wait to see the animations! I bet they'll look amazing!

Lime the Crocodile said on February 21, 2018 at 2:59 PM
Seeing the animations is so cool! I think I’m gonna see if I can help out. :)

Flame cat said on February 21, 2018 at 3:42 PM
this is awesome u guys are re animating the game and I bet what if u guys upgraded the graphics a little bit and maybe already add smooth frames like other servers have?

Flame cat said on February 21, 2018 at 3:48 PM
you guys rock!

Pixelpainter said on February 21, 2018 at 4:11 PM
Oh boy, can't wait for the new stuff!

Meh Dog said on February 21, 2018 at 4:57 PM
Cool! Awesome animation!

Mr. Pig said on February 21, 2018 at 5:20 PM
oYAYAYAY better animations!

Orange Cat said on February 21, 2018 at 5:57 PM
Nice to see some new animations for Toontown Rewritten.

Ned Sourfuddy said on February 21, 2018 at 6:11 PM
What you've shown us is nothing short of amazing. This update is a great boost on TTR's behalf.

Quack And Cheese said on February 21, 2018 at 7:34 PM
Outstanding! Really hoping to see this soon.

Orange Chips said on February 21, 2018 at 8:17 PM
Nice job, Ziggy and friends. Thanks for creating great new improvements while staying true to Toontown's roots. Appreciate it!

Mister Hazel Kooky Flipper said on February 21, 2018 at 9:46 PM
This is what you call a amazing look at the animation process for TTR.

Craft said on February 22, 2018 at 12:33 AM
oh boy new animations

DavidVonDestruct said on February 22, 2018 at 6:36 AM
Cool. Fixed animations.

Colorless Rainbows said on February 22, 2018 at 8:24 AM
my goodness, im in LOVE WITH IT ALLLL

Rosy Cat-Astrophe said on February 22, 2018 at 10:34 AM
Wowie! Amazing!

Scout said on February 22, 2018 at 3:45 PM
They should also add some driving animations for the Kart Racing.

Dr. Ozzie Frazzlewhatsit said on February 22, 2018 at 3:47 PM
Ah, finally, the animations will be fixed! You have my support, TTR team!

Megatoon said on February 22, 2018 at 4:17 PM
Awesome!!!!!

Buthter said on February 22, 2018 at 7:03 PM
you should make an option when making or rewriting a rabbit to have its ear down like riggy's

Buddy said on February 22, 2018 at 9:12 PM
I love these posts. Can't wait for this update.

Cute Berry said on February 23, 2018 at 5:15 AM
Oh yeah! This is so cool! I wanna get those new animations too!

Wizard said on February 23, 2018 at 6:27 AM
wow lets get it its gonna be better btw put some blend in it bra

jordanl101 said on February 23, 2018 at 7:13 AM
This is so cool! :) I can't wait for the next update! :) Keep up the great work, TTR (ToonTown Rewritten)! :) Thanks for making this game awesome and remaking ToonTown! :)

Fireball said on February 23, 2018 at 8:36 AM
woah that's so cool!!

Lime-Berry said on February 23, 2018 at 9:13 AM
Beyond excited for this. I've been really hoping you'd update the animations as well as add those lovely mailboxes, trashcans and fire hydrants!

goldy said on February 23, 2018 at 10:37 AM
wow! so thats how the animation is made

darkmagician said on February 23, 2018 at 1:47 PM
wow

Feathertwist said on February 23, 2018 at 6:25 PM
I'd love to see more dances! :3

pancacke bumblegoober said on February 23, 2018 at 10:35 PM
awesome!

Louie said on February 24, 2018 at 4:48 AM
This is awesome! I love getting a glimpse of what the team are doing backstage. The animations are a really cool concept, and I can't wait to see how you improve them in the future! I know the TTR team won't let us down.

Fireball said on February 24, 2018 at 6:52 AM
Amazing good job the team

Princess lucky jinxsprinkles said on February 24, 2018 at 7:36 AM
Toontastic!!!! Can't wait!!! =) Good luck and thanks for the hard work !!! I'm so happy!!! =D

Bluebeary said on February 24, 2018 at 7:59 AM
that's cool :)

Bonnie Dawg said on February 24, 2018 at 11:18 AM
Omg you guys should find a way to put toontown rewritten on mobile devices. This would so good. I love this rig system btw. Great work!

Dipper said on February 24, 2018 at 11:50 AM
Huh, good luck guys

Mint said on February 24, 2018 at 11:54 AM
This is super cool!

Skyler202 said on February 24, 2018 at 5:18 PM
this is really cool

Skyler202 said on February 24, 2018 at 6:00 PM
this is amazing and i love toontown rewritten

Cassie said on February 24, 2018 at 8:39 PM
Wow, these animations look tremendous ! I'm excited to try them on Toontown when they get uploaded. :D

Duke Leroy Dizzyflipper said on February 24, 2018 at 10:30 PM
Neat - o, animation b.t.s.

jigipop said on February 25, 2018 at 7:00 AM
Love toontown its a really nice and cool game

Doggster said on February 25, 2018 at 9:38 AM
Really Cool, I want to get Into Animating Now!

Kazu said on February 25, 2018 at 4:27 PM
I can't wait! Good luck ttr team!!

Giggle Gabber said on February 25, 2018 at 9:17 PM
YES LADS! (This was very informative, thank you.) xD

Coraldog said on February 26, 2018 at 5:33 PM
This seems very cool I wanna see it now

Mr. picklehead said on February 26, 2018 at 6:08 PM
I have to say OMG ITS AWESOME thanks joey and the ttr team!

Skipper said on February 26, 2018 at 7:05 PM
Thanks, Andrew! We Toons appreciate everything you guys do for us!

Midnight Blossom said on February 26, 2018 at 8:44 PM
wow, this was so cool, you guys should put out more posts like this :D it was super interesting
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