Hibbert Ralph Animation (HRA) has devised software that it claims will reduce the cost of producing animated TV series.

Fireman Sam

Redboard is being launched at this week’s Annecy animation event in France. It was developed over the past four years by HRA’s in-house team, initially to enhance its CG production pipeline for the latest two series of Fireman Sam and Tractor Tom - totalling 780 minutes of animation.

It includes a proprietary 3D storyboarding system that uses game engine technology to allow a storyboard artist to preview sets and backgrounds in real time.

HRA director Jerry Hibbert said: “Our experience with Redboard has been one of significantly fewer corrections, improved oversight and control, and a film that matched the original storyboard precisely. It significantly reduces costs by minimising errors that might otherwise occur in later stages of the production.”

Directors can also preview a scene, including camera angles and placement of characters and props.

“The animation department receives a highly detailed animatic,” says Hibbert. “Redboard provides the reassurance that the final rendered animation will exactly match the approved storyboard.”

HRA estimates this element of the software alone can save up to 40% of storyboarding costs, and almost completely automates the digital layout process. Redboard is available now, with licence costs depending on project length.