Toon Hero aspires to make filmmakers of us all

Animating app Toon Hero, created by Auckland-based startup Trigger Happy, launched on the app store for iPad and iPad mini on Friday.

The app, which is free and supported by microtransactions, allows the user to create animations using familiar characters and backgrounds from a variety of places, such as National Geographic, Jim Henson’s Doodles and UK TV series Hero: 108.

Additional characters can be bought through the app, and more will be added in the coming months.

Trigger Happy chief executive Shona Grundy says the project’s conception was three years ago, when she and her brother-slash-colleague Karl Butler first got their hands on an iPad.

“Karl just felt for the first time that he was connected to his characters,” she says.

“We just thought, ‘Wow, I think there’s actually a massive opportunity here’.”

Grundy and Butler set about creating an app that would allow everyday people to animate characters, and add their own sound effects to those animations. That app had to be on the iPad.

“What we can do is concentrate on one platform and do something really cutting-edge,” says Grundy.

And while Toon Hero might sound like it’s for kids, Grundy says it’s also for people who are interested in the film industry – writing, directing and animating. You don’t have to spend your own money, or crowdfund, or get an animation commissioned.

When you create an animation with Toon Hero, you have the option of sharing it to a social network. If you shared to Facebook, for example, you’d post an embedded video to your newsfeed. 

Back in February, Idealog reported that Toon Hero was going to be launching first in New Zealand some months ago, and then around the rest of the world. 

But the New Zealand launch was stalled when Apple took notice of the project.

“What happened was we were about to launch and we got super excited and we wanted to try it out with our grassroots base, and then Apple saw it and they were super excited,” says Grundy.

“They said, ‘This is really exciting and really unique and we’d really like to work with you’.”

Apple assisted Trigger Happy with its user interface, and also helped to localise the app in 14 different languages.

“We just sort of analysed everything and we came to this space where we realised the product was just so much better, it’s amazing,” says Grundy.

Trigger Happy was founded by Grundy with three others and has investors in New Zealand and China. 

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