At the outset of a career in animation spanning thirty years so far, Jim Bradrick began in the late 1970s using actual cels and cel paints.
Now working in Toon Boom Animate and Flash CS4, Jim entered the digital world in the early 1990’s as a digital background artist for video games. “This was a time when programmers ruled and realistic animation was not highly valued in the games. For example, if you created anticipation frames of a character, the programmers would discard them, wanting the figure to jump like a flea when the player clicked.”
Then, Prince of Persia and Disney’s video game of The Jungle Book hit the shelves, and everything changed.
“Suddenly the studios wanted sophisticated animation in their games, and I was trained and ready to pick up on that.”
It was on the strength of his animation skills, Bradrick says, that he went to Starwave until it was purchased by Disney in about 1997, and then to Humongous Entertainment, a leading creator of games for children. He stayed on there until that company was dismantled in 2005, while still doing occasional outside work on non-conflicting projects such as commercials .
“At Humongous, originally a 2D studio with a proprietary animation engine that was layer-based (and which, incidentally, anticipated a few of the features of Toon Boom), there was increasing pressure to go 3D, with the usual arguments for that,” says Bradrick. In 3D, the characters would be reusable, the camera angles could be varied infinitely, and so on. So, Maya seats were purchased, the animators were sent out for CGI training, and the transformation began. “By the time the studio was closed, production was a hundred percent in Maya, and I had assumed the job of Art Manager.”
“3D CGI was just not for me,” Bradrick says. He began training for it, but found himself increasingly unhappy about it. “I like to draw, and in this there was very little drawing. Finally I realized that I just needed to hold my ground and become a 2D specialist.”
At this point Bradrick discovered Toon Boom, creating a one-minute film in 2006 called “Tricks”, using Toon Boom Studio Express.
“I did everything myself, and I did it all within the confines of my 10-by-10 foot studio, including the crude sound recording. It was a very satisfying experience.”
But though he enjoyed working in Toon Boom, as a contractor he found little opportunity to employ it. Game companies for which he contracted had never heard of it, and he found himself forced to master Macromedia Flash.
Now, Bradrick believes that things have changed.
Toon Boom has a much higher profile, and it has been used to create some well-known properties such as The Simpsons Movie and the wonderful Triplets of Belleville. “Toon Boom has a significant place on the map and in the marketplace now.”
Jim Bradrick is presently at work on a new film based upon an ancient riddle, and says, “I am pleased and excited to be working in the animator-friendly medium of a Toon Boom product once again.”