The animation software used by Studio Ghibli will soon be open source

This could mean big things for the growth of the animation industry

Studio Ghibli’s hand-drawn animation style never fails to impress, consistently bringing together traditional and modern elements of the genre to create films that appeal to our childhood memories of film and ignite the imagination. Excitingly, one piece of software the studio use to create their films is going open source from March 26th.

The software, called Toonz, has been used by Studio Ghibli in some of their most popular films including Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away as well as by other studios like Rough Draft who were behind Futurama. The software was essentially used by Ghibli in order to bring together the traditional hand-drawn elements of their animation and the modern digital elements quickly and seamlessly. Mr. Atsushi Okui, Executive Imaging Director at Studio Ghibli, said himself that “in order to continue producing theatre-quality animation without additional stress” they had to use a software that had “the ability to combine the hand-drawn animation with the digitally painted ones seamlessly” and Toonz was such software.

The software is being made open source due to the recent acquisition of Digital Video, the company responsible for Toonz, by Japanese publisher DWANGO. The new owners want to move towards a more open source business model and the companies have agreed that the version of Toonz being made open source will have tools and features included that were co-developed with Studio Ghibli.

It’s not clear how powerful their open source version of Toonz will be, especially since they’re also going to offer a premium version for large companies. They claim that the premium version, which will be competitively priced, is for those who want to customise the software for their own project. It’s a strange statement to make since going open source means the free version can be customised by anyone anyway. Perhaps there will be key features missing from OpenToonz.

However, having an open source version is still incredibly exciting considering it previously cost around $10,000 per license. Young animators and small studios all over the world will now have the chance to use professional-grade software in their projects which will be a serious boon for the animation industry, helping it to grow and diversify. I have a feeling we’ll see some really exciting and beautiful things come from this.


Via Toonz

Image via Flickr © Craig Duffy