TOONZ Studio Ghibli Version will be available as a free download starting Saturday March 26.

Creating an animated film is pretty much the exact opposite of an “easy process.” For one thing, you obviously need to be artistic, but you’ll also find that putting it all together can be quite the chore. Fortunately, computers have made the process a fair bit easier — but unfortunately, the software you’d need to make your illustrations move can be pretty expensive.

But soon that won’t be the case! Starting this Saturday, you’ll be able to download the software used by Studio Ghibli to make Princess Mononoke for the low, low cost of absolutely nothing.

Toonz was first released in 1993 and has seen a variety of releases in the decades since then. It’s been used by a number of production companies, perhaps most notably by Studio Ghibli, which started using the software in 1995 in the production for Princess Mononoke. Digital Video, the company that has produced Toonz for the last 23 years, recently signed an agreement with Dwango, a Japanese company, which would see Dwango acquire the software. However, this would be no simple acquisition as the agreement apparently requires Dwango to “publish and develop an Open Source platform based on Toonz (OpenToonz).” That platform will be available in just a few days on March 26 as TOONZ Studio Ghibli Version as a free download and will include features developed for the animation studio.

Digial Video will apparently continue development of Toonz with the open source business model, which means the company will make money through installation, support, training, and customization services. But for any aspiring animators looking to make professional-quality art, the barrier to entry just got a lot lower.

And if you end up making some kick-ass animation using the new open source Toonz software, be sure to share it with us!

Sources: Digital Video/TOONZ Premium via the A.V. Club
Featured image: YouTube/Madman