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Setting the Stage – Bringing cinematic shots to the web

Bringing cinematic shots to the web – Setting the Stage

Before directors can film a scene, they must set up their characters and props so that the camera can capture them in the best light. Toon Boom Studio’s three-dimensional stage gives web directors the power to lay out their scene just like a film director would compose elements on a stage.

In the Toon Boom Studio ShadowDialog animation files, we have packaged pre-drawn and animated elements that you can use to experiment with different staging scenarios and camera moves. After you are comfortable with the techniques for laying out elements on the 3D stage and filming them, feel free to experiment with different layout strategies. You can even draw and animate your own characters and props and add them to the scene.

Let’s start by staging a shot of Jane talking to Shadow about her troubles.


  1. Start Toon Boom Studio™ V2. Open the ShadowDialog_Rough.tbp animation set. Toon Boom Studio™ opens in Drawing Mode

    In Drawing Mode, draw or import all of your media and establish the timing of your animated elements. (Traditional animation called the tool for working out the timing of a scene an Exposure Sheet, or a Dope Sheet. It is speculated that “dope” comes from the idea of “dosage”, such as, how many frames each drawing will appear in. Dope, eh?). We have already drawn and timed all of the animated sequences, so you can move right to Sceneplanning Mode

  2. Select View > Sceneplanning Mode to switch to the 3D sceneplanning stage. Notice the Camera View, Top View, and Side View windows. Like viewports in 3D programs, these windows show your scene from different perspectives. In the Top View and Side View windows, lines represent the element layers in a scene, like looking at an animation cell from the top or side

    View screen shot (will open in new window)

    Now you will stage the scene by placing Shadow in front of Jane and the background image and to the right of the camera frame, and Jane in between the background and Shadow, and to the left

  3. Select the Shadow element in the Timeline and then choose the Select tool (Tools > Select)
  4. In the Top View window, drag the Shadow element layer (represented by the highlighted green line in the window) down, closer to the tip of the camera.

You’ll notice as you move him that the Offset values in the Properties window change. You can use the following more specific values: .35 N, 3.62 E, 8.83 F.

Next let’s move Jane between Shadow and the background image.

  1. Click the Jane Peg layer in the Timeline. We’ve used a peg to group Jane’s element layers together so that you can move all of her layers at the same time. You’ll learn more about pegs in the next section of the tutorial
  2. In the Top View window, use the Select tool to drag the Jane Peg element down in the Top View window, closer to the camera tip, but a good distance from Shadow, and to the left side of the camera frame. To move the peg and all of the layers attached to it, drag the red circle that represents the peg

    You’ll notice that as you drag the Jane Peg forward, she will get larger in the Camera View window. This is because Toon Boom Studio™ automatically recalculates the size of elements as you move them closer or farther from the camera

  3. Save your animation.

Now you are ready to create the camera move.