Debuting at Anime Japan in Tokyo on March 26, Toonz Ghibli Edition—a special version customized to fit Studio Ghibli's needs—will be going open-source. This means new animators will be able to learn how to use the software, which previously cost thousands of dollars, for free.
Studios and fledgling animators can use the same program that legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki used to bring Spirited Away (2001) and Princess Mononoke (1997) to life. (The animators behind American favorites like Balto (1995), Anastasia (1997), and the cartoon Futurama have all depended on the technology, too.)
This new deal is the result of Japanese publisher Dwango acquiring Toonz from Italian developer Digital Video. Along with the free version, they will still be offering Toonz Premium as well as training and customization services.
Studio Ghibli is known for its use of conventional hand-drawn animation. But in order to produce high-quality animation, certain sections still need to be created digitally. Starting with the movie Princess Mononoke in 1995, the studio used Toonz to merge hand-drawn and digitally-created drawings seamlessly.
"We are happy to hear that this open source version contains the Ghibli Edition," Atsushi Okui, Executive Imaging Director at Studio Ghibli, says in a press release. "We hope that many people inside and outside of the animation industry will utilize this software for their work."