WildBrain, formerly known as DHX Media, is a Canadian animation studio that creates and broadcasts animated and live-action series, as well as LEGO stop-motions and CGI Gifs. They replaced WILFilm ApS after March of the Oni and became responsible for animating Ninjago from Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjitzu onwards.
More often than WILFilm ApS, WildBrain uses the "smear frame" animation technique, in which a character is stretched out to give the illusion of motion blur (see examples below). Vlad Tutu is an example of a character who always appears stretched out when moving. A similar technique is also often used, in which weapons bend unnaturally.
Compared to WILFilm, WildBrain tends to use flatter colors and less shading, as well as more cartoonish elements to things such as exaggerating the Spinjitzu tornadoes and the movement of the characters as a whole. In some scenes, most often in battle, a technique is used for a few seconds where the background changes to one color with several lines that symbolize movement and emphasize the scene.
The Spinjitzu tornadoes have returned to their original shape as opposed to the often-spherical shape seen in Seasons 8 through 10, with some minor changes. For example, Zane's tornado has bits of ice floating around and there is a ribbon-like texture present on the tornadoes.
WildBrain characters have more color lines and variation in their hair, more detailed texture of clothing (and skin, in cases such as the Munce), and eye pupils that go left and right rather than staying straight. Serpentine scales are two-dimensional as opposed to three-dimensional. However, this does not apply to Pythor, whose scales are, for an unknown reason, three-dimensional in Season 15.
WildBrain animates the walking animation differently from WILFilm, seeing as the hands move on the sides of the body instead of near the torso. It also seems slower. Similarly, tailed characters such as Skales and Char move around a lot more making them seem like they slither instead of walk.
In the WildBrain animation, Wu's hat is also more often seen slightly skewed or jumps during combat sequences, as can be seen, for example, during the return of the ninja from the Never-Realm in "Awakenings" or on GIFs for Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjitzu.
When Wu fights the ninja on the roof of the monastery in "Wasted True Potential," for a moment his hat flies into the air and shows Wu's head, which is missing his black skullcap seen in previous episodes. This is likely because characters are no longer shown with studs on their heads as of March of the Oni, so a covering for the top of Wu's head is no longer needed, animation-wise. This is also seen in "The Prodigal Father," but in "The Real Fall," Wu has this skullcap again. This is presumably because he was missing his hat for a longer time in the latter episode, so his skullcap may have been added back in order for him to look more normal.
The technique where the mouth of the character is significantly shifted to the side is also often used.
WildBrain had some characters' hair change slightly.
- Jay's hair has returned to a more reddish-brown color akin to earlier seasons, rather than the darker brown color used in Seasons 8 through 10.
- Lloyd's hair is a little darker.
- Nya's hair is a little more gray when compared to Cole's.
- Wu has a longer beard and a small ponytail.
- Clutch Powers's hair piece now has the dot on top present on the physical version.
- Misako's silver streak in her hair appears longer and lighter. In addition, a green tie was added to her french braid.
Several other characters' face designs were somewhat altered.
- The relaxed lines above Cole and Dareth's eyes have disappeared.
- Zane's face design is slightly different.
- The lower half of Kai's scar is missing in Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjitzu and the first half of Prime Empire.
- P.I.X.A.L. does not have her face bordered by a black helmet as it was in Seasons 9 and 10.
- Serpentine eyes no longer glow.
- The Mechanic's cheekbones, wrinkles, and the circles under his eyes were removed from his face design.
- Nelson looks slightly older, with a slightly different face print and mid-legs instead of short legs.
- Gayle Gossip has slightly smaller glasses and lighter hair.
- Cyrus Borg was previously slightly redesigned in March of the Oni, having a new hairstyle and slightly smaller glasses. However, in WildBrain he has his original hairstyle and larger silver glasses again. His crow's feet are also absent.
- Avatar Harumi and Harumi look a little younger than WILFilm Harumi and have a smaller mouth.
- Misako's mouth is smaller and has a more generic appearance.
- The Postman has a slightly different face print without his mustache.
- Ronin has his eyes further apart with the lazy-eye effect seen on Dareth and the post-movie Cole pre-WildBrain and he has a slightly less pronounced stubble.
- Ray's eyes are closer together.
- Like Ray, Maya's eyes are a little closer to each other and she has a slightly less generic face.
- Patty Keys has a different hair piece and her lips are gray instead of pink.
- As in the pre-film seasons, Skylor has normal red hair instead of dark red and has a slightly more generic face.
- Pythor has a slightly different head shape, has different pupils and lacks his eyeliner.
Almost all characters have side-leg and side-torso printing, which do not exist on their real-life minifigures.
- According to Tommy Andreasen, all changes of the characters' designs in the WildBrain animation are approved and supplied by LEGO, so WildBrain cannot be blamed, for example, for the design of The Mechanic, which changed in Season 11 due to the release of his minifigure in 2021.
- According to Tommy Andreasen, the 2D-animated episodes were "inspired by the wealth of Ninjago fan art we have seen over the years. A lot of it was used to in the initial pitch to DHX." Joshua Deck's art is one example.
- Every main villain from WildBrain except Unagami looks a little different in the sets than in the show.
- Aspheera has a fire ghost tail instead of a fire snake tail. She also does not have pupils as she does in the show.
- The Ice Emperor uses white instead of gray coloring and has a mask printed on his face rather than the 3D mask seen in the show.
- The Skull Sorcerer only has two black eyes on his mask, while in the show he has green eyes as well as a mouth and lines on the mask.
- Mammatus and the Keepers have glowy-purple skin in the show but plain lavender skin in the sets.
- Kalmaar has yellow-green eyes in the show, while in the sets they are blue-pink. He also has gold armor in the sets, and he is teal than cyan.
- Every main antagonist from WildBrain has held a position of power, whether as royalty, chieftain, or emperor.
- Mister Whiskers's owner is one of the few generic citizens of Ninjago City who appears in the show even after a change of the animation studio from WiLFilm to WildBrain.
- According to Andreasen, WildBrain animates capes well.
- A similar technique as the "smear frame" was previously used in The LEGO Ninjago Movie, where existing LEGO pieces were used to simulate motion.
- When asked about the animation smears, Tommy Andreasen said, "It is meant to be watched and enjoyed. Not paused."
- There are different fonts on title cards used during the seasons.
- Seasons 11 and 13 use the Kunoichi font, the same as seasons 8, 9 and 10.
- Season 12 uses the Press Start 2P font.
- The Island uses the Passero One font.
- Seasons 14 and 15 also use a unique font, although its name is unknown.
- When asked whether WILFilm would return, Bragi Schut stated, "Wildbrain is doing an awesome job in my opinion. They are super dedicated and many of the animators were fans like yourselves not too long ago. We’re excited to have them helping us. Art is a messy/crazy process. But the best art comes from passion and Wildbrain has it in spades."
- Kalmaar is Andreasen's favorite WildBrain villain.
- According to Andreasen, WildBrain most likely uses the animation application Maya.
This is a gallery of abnormal frames in which the animation is used to simulate action or sudden movement.
This is a gallery of background changes and scene emphasis.
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