Creating animated films and educating a younger audience about 2D animation , Kristen Collier needed to find software that was easy to use, yet could produce high quality animated films.
In Cartoon Animator (CTA), Kristen found everything she needed and was quickly able to teach herself and others how to animate, and has even been able to create her own custom actors for her projects.
” I researched different software during the lockdown, and saw that Cartoon Animator (CTA) had the best ratings of learning curve and for being economical. I love Cartoon Animator, and it’s easy on the surface level, for beginners, and for doing short, simple animations. CTA is my absolute favorite software. When I was working on my feature cartoon, Benny the Barnacle, for months I would work 12 – 16 hour days on the animation, it was so engrossing. I was working non-stop on it, and loving every minute of it. Cartoon Animator is addictive, but in a good, constructive way. “
Kristen Collier | 2D Animator/ Illustrator
Q: Hi Kristen. Can you begin by telling us about the work you do using Cartoon Animator?
I just completed my first feature cartoon, Benny the Barnacle, which stars Corbin Bernsen who played the dad on Psych, and starred in LA Law. It features cameos by Marta Kristen, who was Judy on Lost in Space, and the legendary Lou Gramm, from Foreigner, among others. And what’s totally cool is that the distribution company, C3 Entertainment, handles The Three Stooges. It was actually started by them, so you can’t ask for more than that!
Q: You create a lot of quality 2D animation. Why did you choose Cartoon Animator as the platform to create your content?
I researched different software during the lockdown, and saw that Cartoon Animator (CTA) had the best ratings of learning curve and for being economical. I learned animation during the lockdown by watching Reallusion’s YouTube tutorials over and over, before I even had the software. I was determined to learn animation, because my husband is the artist and writer, and I was determined to get his characters seen by the world.
Q: Do you have a specific genre or theme that is your favourite to work with?
I really like undersea characters, and am focused on those. My husband, Kevin, an animation historian who’s written books for Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research, is the artist, creator, and writer of our projects, and we have a lot of undersea cartoons we’re working on now.
Q: Do you find the process of creating characters and content for Cartoon Animator easy and enjoyable?
I love Cartoon Animator, and it’s easy on the surface level, for beginners, and for doing short, simple animations. CTA is my absolute favorite software. When I was working on my feature cartoon, Benny the Barnacle, for months I would work 12 – 16 hour days on the animation, it was so engrossing, my husband actually missed me, even though we work from home, and I was there. But I was working non-stop on it, and loving every minute of it. Cartoon Animator is addictive, but in a good, constructive way. There were days when I would think, my stomach is growling. Why is my stomach growling? And then I realized it was because I was hungry, but didn’t want to step away to eat!
Q: Do you have your favourite Cartoon Animator tools or features that you enjoy working with most?
The Duplicate Tool is hand’s down my favourite Cartoon Animator tool. I used that to create schools of about thirty seahorses in Whispering Wally and 40 jellyfish in Benny the Barnacle, for example. That tool is invaluable for animating large scale scenes. My second favourite tool is the Photoshop Pipeline, that is a life saver for setting up puppetry eyes. Also, just sending stuff to Photoshop via the CTA pipeline helps for so much. For example, when I use the same mouths for different characters I send it to Photoshop to change the outline of the mouth to match the different character colors, etc.
So, I’ve recommended the Pipeline version to several people, and we even bought 4 packages of it for our church’s studio that my husband and I run. We even have some international students currently here from Kenya that are working on their Masters in computer science, who want to learn Cartoon Animator. I’ll be teaching the international students animation at our church’s studio and I’ve even taught the little kids there. They picked up the software quite easily. Our youngest voice actress, who was 3 when she did her lines for our series Whispering Wally. She loved the Leap Motion controller. I showed a 7 year old boy in our group how to record his lines on the zoom mic then transfer it to Cartoon Animator and he picked it up instantly. Plus I did a one-day demonstration at an elementary school for all the kids in grades K – 8. I let the kids come up and try the software and even the kindergartners had no problems picking it up, so I can’t recommend CTA enough for schools!
Another favourite CTA tool is the Render Tool. I was able to create visual depth by duplicating the same seaweed prop but changing the contrast and brightness with the render tool. That was an invaluable thing I learned about CTA, and really helped me add some visual, cinematic depth to the cartoon.
Q: Given all your experience working with Cartoon Animator, what advice would you have for inspiring developers looking to break into the Reallusion Marketplace and sell their content?
My advice would be to hone your hand-drawn skills. I heard that at the latest Disney D23 event, the biggest buzz was from an announcement that they’d be releasing a hand-drawn (or at least replicating the look of being hand-drawn) feature length film next year. So, it seems fans want a return to traditional cartoons. And they’re saying they’re tired of the generic look they’re seeing.
So, heartily I recommend that animators hone their drawing skills. Or, if, like me, they’re not artists – my husband is the artist and primary writer, I help with writing – I recommend animators partner with an up-and-coming illustrator if they don’t have the art skills.
Because, to me, the highest compliment I could ever get would be that Collier Animation Studio cartoons are on the level of Hanna-Barbera, the greatest animation company, in my and my husband’s estimation, of all time. I am inspired by the background art of The Flintstones and The Jetsons. I even did an homage in that in Benny the Barnacle, and I love the glitches in the art, that has that homemade appeal, so less antiseptic of today’s visually perfected, but story-wise lacking cartoons being panned today by audiences.
Q: You are obviously an animator who thinks big. So what are your plans for future content?
I’ll be starting “The Treasure,” which is the first episode in the Benny the Barnacle short animated series, which will be 3 – 5 minute cartoons apart from the feature cartoon currently awaiting distribution. My husband has written the script and I have one of the voices, so will commence that when the other voices are in.
I’ll also be doing more dancing bunny music videos for a client, which are hilarious, this bunny is some steep competition for us, ha ha, but all for a great cause! Cherry the Resurrection Rabbit is a Southern Gospel dancing bunny, with illustrations by Jack Foster. And for the Christmas cartoon I just completed for the same client, I was able to incorporate some of the Cartoon Animator template art, which came in super handy!
What’s interesting is that I found the music videos to be really hard considering they’re only a few minutes long, because you have to time the art and movements to the music. And I also do my best to match the lyrics to the visuals. So they’re a pretty big challenge for me, but this bunny is so cute that my husband and I think they’ll be a big hit once they get distribution, I could see Cherry being the next Baby Shark.
Q: What are the major advantages that Cartoon Animator offers you for your work?
Cartoon Animator is absolutely my all-time favorite software. I’m probably one of CTA’s best brand ambassadors, and I’m not even paid to do that, ha ha! Because with all the students I’ve shown it to around the country, from all ages, they’ve picked it up quickly, and with the world being so unexpected, it is the perfect means for people to earn a living from wherever they are. One of our voice actors in Benny the Barnacle is in Mexico City, the narrator is in Scotland. So, being able to work with people around the world in an easy way, is so helpful in these last days.
” Cartoon Animator is absolutely my all-time favorite software. I’m probably one of CTA’s best brand ambassadors, and I’m not even paid to do that, ha ha! Because with all the students I’ve shown it to around the country, from all ages, they’ve picked it up quickly, and with the world being so unexpected, it is the perfect means for people to earn a living from wherever they are. “
Kristen Collier | 2D Animator/ Illustrator
The CTA – Adobe Premier workflow makes everything easy and functional too. I put together my CTA clips in Adobe Premiere Elements, and do my sound effects and bubbles for my undersea cartoons there. Also my titles and music. I am grateful for this software, which allows really anyone to make a cartoon, and step into the vacuum made by the big boys.
Q: You sound like a very busy person. What other projects have you most recently been working on?
Along with the Benny the Barnacle and Cherry the Resurrection Rabbit, I’ve also done my husband’s Whispering Wally. He’s a blue whale who whispers, and the trailer for Debut CAS Cartoon: “BLINK”. She’s a red cyclops octopus.
I am excited to be starting the Blink sequel, “Finding Elsie,” which features Elsie Algae and in the future my husband is writing more for the Blink series.
I’m most excited about Benny the Barnacle as he has always stayed in my heart. And now he’ll be coming to streaming stations.
And finally, I also created and hosted the 2022 Christian Ani Awards to help give exposure to the field of Christian animation in January.
Follow Kristien Collier:
Collier Animation Studio – YouTube