Cap City Studios

Cap City Studios, LLC is an animation production entity that was founded by Tom Richner in 2009.  The idea behind the studio is that through pooling the local animation talent here in Columbus, we can take on larger scale animation production projects.  There is a tremendous amount of talent in Columbus, specifically in the area of animation.  It is the hope of the many animation artists living and working here in town that more and more opportunities will continue to arise for animators here in the years to come.

Sample Projects: What Does Cap City Studios Do?

Logo Design

Tom Richner recently designed this logo for Jim Beebe who is opening a fitness center in Indianapolis, IN (Jim Beebe AMRAP).  The design will be featured on t-shirts and on their website.  


In September of 2009, Cap City Studios was approached by David Kuntzman, the president of Pop-in-Kins, LTD (a toy company located in Canton, Ohio).  The company had a successful holiday toy line, and they wanted to produce a commercial for their product that would run on local cable channels in Northeastern Ohio in early December of the 2009 holiday season.
Original Storyboard and Script

The commercial would be :30 seconds in length and needed to be finished by the end of November in order to get on-air.  Pop-in-Kins (the company) provided us with a one page script along  with an initial storyboard with some artwork. It was Cap City Studio's responsibility to provide all the subsequent artwork, animation, music and voice-over work.  We had essentially four weeks to deliver the finished product.  It was time to get to work!

After a few initial discussions about the script and what the company had in mind for the look of the commercial, we produced an initial storyboard that the company was happy with (see the first three pages below). 

Once the storyboard was locked down, the next step involved creating an animatic which is essentially the storyboard played out in time.  This is a valuable step in the process of animation because it allows a client to basically watch the commercial (in a rough form) before any substantial amounts of time and resources are committed to a polished product.  Below is one of the early animatics complete with temporary music and temporary voice-over for the main character.

After viewing this initial animatic, the company stressed that they wanted the camera to really tilt down into the book as the character appeared to jump from its pages.  In traditional hand-drawn animation, changing the perspective of the camera requires the artist to draw that perspective change on the background frame by frame which can be VERY time consuming. 

3D environment based off of the storyboard and hand
drawn designs.  Created by Mark Fitzpatrick.  

It was decided then that the environment would be created in 3D to more easily allow for the camera move that the company had desired.  This would ultimately save time and money, allowing the 2D animators to concentrate their efforts on bringing the character to life rather than on animating a camera move by hand.

Before animation can begin, final voices needed to be recorded.  In animation, voices are usually recorded first so that the animators can listen to the subtleties of the voice actor's performance and really match the voice to the acting on the character.  Most times, the performance of the voice actor informs the animator's decisions on how the character should act.  Now that Christopher Pop-in-kins had a voice, it was time to begin animation.  The acting was refined and the character began to take shape.  The clip below shows an animation test along with Christopher's final voice.

As the 3D camera move was worked out, we created a series of animatics to show the company how the piece was coming together.  Original music was also added at this point.  Below you will see two movies.  The first is an early animatic where the 3D camera move had been worked out but the animation on the main character hadn't been finished yet (the 3D background was a low resolution test render).  The second movie shows the 2D animation, in various stages of completion, over the same 3D background.

As the final animation was completed (three animators including myself drew the main character), the piece really began to take shape.  Lights were added to the 3D background, snow was falling outside the window and a fire was crackling in the fireplace.  Below is the final commercial as it aired in December of 2009 on various networks including  
-->ABC Family, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, Oxygen and WEN. 

The company was very happy with the final end product as were we.  David Kuntzman had this to say about working with us on this project:

“Tom Richner's animation studio Cap City Studios was able to breathe life into our company's illustrated character - Christopher Pop-In-Kins, Santa's very first Children's elf. Cap City Studios finished a thirty second animated commerical for us on time and within budget. We were thrilled with the results: great quality, extremely professional, as good as some of the best animation on TV today. We look forward to working with Tom and Cap City Studios again in the future.”

                                                                                      David Kuntzman May 5, 2010

The following year, Cap City Studios entered this commercial into the 31st annual Telly Awards competition.  We were happy to hear that the commercial was awarded two Bronze Telly Awards in two separate categories ('Children's Audience' and 'Use of Animation').  A happy ending to a very rewarding and enjoyable production. 

(link to Telly Award article posted on the CCAD website)

Cap City Studios would like to especially thank Andy Friz, Mark Fitzpatrick and Steve Umbleby for their contributions to this animated commercial.  


Hopefully this gives you a sense of what the production of a :30 second commercial looks like at Cap City Studios.  Feel free to contact me, Tom Richner, if you have an animated piece that you would like to produce.  I always enjoy hearing about people's projects, answering questions and giving information about what we can offer you as a production team.  


owner, Cap City Studios