Titmouse is a full-service, award-winning animation production company with a simple ethos: “We make cartoons.” Taking contemporary animation to a whole new level, Titmouse strives to accommodate new genres and storytelling styles in its sensational – and often surreal – portfolio of projects.
The company’s unorthodox pipeline has been put to work in Netflix’s Big Mouth, Amazon’s Niko and the Sword of Light, and long-running The Venture Bros (Season 7 airs on August 5 on Adult Swim).
Titmouse employs over 500 of the most talented people in the industry at offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver. Visual communication is vital to maintain quality and creative vision across the board for this team of quirky creators. Luckily, Titmouse has cineSync on-hand to help the team stay in touch.
We spoke with Supervising Director, Sung Jin Ahn about how cineSync’s video review tools help enable remote collaboration and elevate Titmouse’s enviable output.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I first started animating as an intern at Titmouse about 10 years ago. It was a great opportunity and experience, as the studio was much smaller then. At the time, I got to see how every step of animation was made in a small core team environment. Since then, I have seen the studio grow, as well as myself, and have continued to learn new things about the animation process every day. I started out doing prop designs, background paint, then some animation, and finally into storyboarding and directing over the course of the past decade. I feel fortunate to be in a nurturing environment, where I get to learn how to supervise and direct the production of a show.
What have been some of the most exciting and unique projects of your career, especially recently?
Some recent projects I worked on include the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shorts, a Blizzard Entertainment animated trailer, and Niko and the Sword of Light. These projects are exciting to me, because not only did I get to direct them, but the entire production was done in house. As supervising director, I was involved in design, animation, and compositing – all the way to final delivery. On top of that, I got to collaborate with Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim) and Peter Chung (Aeon Flux), within one year!
How important is remote collaboration to your pipeline?
Remote collaboration is crucial to the pipeline. Each project I work on has such different styles and tones, making it important to reach out and build relationships with artists all around the world.
On which project did you start using video review tools, and why?
I have been using video review tools for a few years now, but most recently we used cineSync for production on Niko and the Sword of Light. Since this is a serialized series of 22-minute episodes, it’s a lot to coordinate in-house. I use cineSync for all of my reviews with the team – animators, designers, compositors, painters, and even freelance artists.
When verbally describing fantastical ideas – such as characters with magical swords or monsters of darkness – it really helps to draw on top of a shot. cineSync allows for that to happen. I can better illustrate points, jotting down ideas directly from my imagination.
Animation is a collaboration of artists and production, but we can’t collaborate if we can’t communicate. cineSync really helps take our communication to another level.
Can you think of any shots that cineSync particularly helped with in Niko and the Sword of Light?
cineSync helped with honing in on the shape language of posing in Niko and the Sword of Light. Being an action/adventure show, we wanted to get the right blend of posing for our characters. Realistic posing for action, and exaggerated stances for comedic moments. It really helped to draw out the poses in our review sessions, rather than trying to explain or act it out.
Was there a specific feature of cineSync that you immediately responded to?
We use cineSync every day on productions. The best feature is that I get to draw right on top of the media we are reviewing. As a director, this saves a lot of time and miscommunication with my other teammates. It’s really amazing that I can draw out what I want to convey, and it can be exported as a direct reference to anyone on the production.