Toonz animation software, used on Princess Mononoke and Futurama will be released as a free open-source version with a souped-up feature set.
Leading Japanese media company Dwango, has signed a deal to acquire Toonz, the 2d animation software from the Italian-based company Digital Video. As a result of this merger, Dwango will be releasing a free open-source version of Toonz, to be called OpenToonz.
In addition, famed Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away) will have direct involvement in the on-going development and use of Toonz, including unique features that have been in use at the company over the years.
According to AWN, the new OpenToonz software will include features from the Toonz Ghibli Edition and “will also include effects developed by Dwango that utilize its artificial intelligence technology, and a plug-in feature that enables anybody to add original effects to OpenToonz”.
Digital Video will continue to develop and sell a premium version of Toonz called, predictably, Toonz Premium.
This seems like a great deal all round. Digital Video secure and maintain a significant foothold in the 2d animation industry with one of the world’s leading studios; they increase their user base with a free version of the software; and likewise Studio Ghibli are able to pick up new animators from a larger talent pool that come with knowledge of the software they already use.
It also seems like part of a general trend in the changing face of software and licensing structures that many companies are moving towards, i.e. free or very low-cost versions to increase their user base, and then cheaper subscription based models for consistent on-going revenue. This has many benefits as it helps to dissuade piracy, makes use of crowd-sourcing, and also makes it more economical for smaller studios or freelancers to use software on very short-term projects without large upfront investment costs.
The free OpenToonz version will be available from Saturday 26th March 2016, with an official presentation at the Anime Japan festival in Tokyo.
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