Thursday, April 08, 2010

Dan Povenmire, Exec. Producer of Phineas and Ferb and his Tablet PC

When Inspiration Strikes

Dan Povenmire, executive producer of Disney's popular animated show Phineas and Ferb, finds that creative inspiration can strike him at any time - day or night. Recently, after waking from sleep with a great new idea for the show, Povenmire spent hours drawing and developing his idea. The same inspiration can strike on a plane, in the car or anywhere and when it does he likes to get his idea drawn out as quickly as possible. When ideas hit, Povenmire doesn’t reach for a pad of paper, he grabs his Motion Computing Tablet PC.

The Need for Something New

Long before heading the production of an award-winning animated television series Dan Povenmire cut his teeth with some of the most well known animation projects of the last two decades. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nickelodeon's Rocko's Modern Life to a short stint with The Simpsons, Povenmire has participated in almost every aspect of creating animation and knows the tools of his trade.

His current project, Phineas and Ferb, began back in 2007 and appears on the Disney Channel in multiple countries. Each episode, up to 40 a season, is composed of up to three smaller mini-episodes, each with its own unique storyline. The demanding schedule can put tremendous pressure on anyone involved in the creative process and deadlines are often tight. Therefore, any device or tool that can make things faster, easier or more efficient is greatly appreciated. According to Povenmire his Motion Tablet accomplishes all three.

The Perfect on-the-go Animation Tool

Whether Povenmire is rewriting scripts or creating new storyboards, the task is easily completed on the go. The lightweight design of the Motion Tablet enables him to carry it wherever he goes. During a recent flight to Taiwan he composed 250 pages of storyboards, something he couldn’t have done before on paper due to the weight and bulk. Also, the tablet PCs portability and easy input with a stylus make drawing and creating in tight spaces easy. “It’s the perfect size for drawing storyboards and animating,” says Povenmire, describing the size and ergonomics of his Motion Tablet.

Povenmire has his tablet equipped with TVPaint Animation software, a raster-based animation suite developed by TVPaint Developpement out of France. The software allows him to easily sketch and animate on his tablet using a familiar feature set that closely resembles traditional animation tools. The software also fully utilizes the Wacom input of his Motion Tablet giving him complete control over how his strokes appear. The variable stroke created by the pressure from the artist’s stylus creates an ink-and-paper aesthetic and provides the visual feedback that artists demand. Additionally like many artists who have sketched for years on paper, Povenmire occasionally suffers from tendinitis in his drawing hand. The smooth screen of the Motion Tablet, according to him, “gives a paper feel without causing any discomfort, even after hours of drawing.”

“It’s only recently that I stopped trying to wipe off the eraser dust,” referring to the bits of eraser that stayed on the page when he had to make changes. Now, with the tablet PC, he says “I can just hit the undo button.”

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