Showing posts from August, 2007

Toon Boom Digital Pro Report - Part 2

I am extremely impressed with the quality of documentation for Digital Pro.

In general, the greatest flaw in animation programs, both 2D and 3D is usually with the documentation. Many years ago, I read an article about writing great animation software, particularly 3D software, and it stated the prevailing attitude of the time:
The programmers spend many intensive hours writing high quality software. Once they finish and have it ready to release to market, somebody says, “Maybe we should put together a manual.” So, the crew breaks out a case of beer and scribbles together a manual the night before the software’s release.
Anyone who used those early programs could easily believe this scenario.

Toon Boom’s documentation, however, is extremely good. Their documentation has represented a major advantage for users. Studio’s documentation, in particular, has really excelled in the past few years.

Solo’s documentation, however, often left out significant areas of explanation. To some extent, I ap…

Digital Pro Report - Part 1

My copy of Toon Boom’s Digital Pro, the high end animation software for individual users and small animation companies arrived yesterday. I am a very familiar and heavy user of Solo, the first version of the software, and was extremely anxious to start using the new program.

The software installs fairly easily. There is an activation process and a dongle, which is expected for software of this caliber. Thankfully, the software can be installed on more than one machine and it does not tie itself to the machine’s hardware. The only catch: To run a copy of the software, you need to move the dongle to the machine in use. Compared to software like Adobe Premiere, this is much more user friendly and allows you to move from machine to machine in your setup without being treated like a software pirate. For me, this allows me to animate on my Tablet PC, but compile and do fancy effects, color correction, etc. on my big desktop without going blind using the small screen on my portable PC.


Global Warming Animation

I’m working on a new animation that will be a bit longer than my usual 30-second PSA. This one is about global warming and I’m working on a real tight deadline. I’m using Solo, exclusively. This time, I’m taking all the short-cuts typical of limited TV animation and using Solo’s template feature to its maximum. This is new for me. I’m hoping it looks okay. I will not be posting “in progress” animations because of the template nature. I am using only my own templates, but I have never reused animation like this to such an extent. We’ll see.

Greetings of the Season




A new diet


Vaccines are out of control!


Center of Excellence


Your Heart


The Receptionist


Global Warming


Digital Pro/Solo Animation Software: Why upgrade?

I’m working on an animation project currently in Toon Boom’s Solo. Many have asked the question: “Why Solo?”

Toon Boom makes many types and levels of animation software. Their main consumer product is called Studio. Studio is priced far below such software as Flash and other art products.

Studio is an extremely capable animation software product. Virtually everything you see on cable’s Cartoon Network can be done in Studio and can be done easily.

Meanwhile, Toon Boom also makes Solo, a dramatically more expensive software product that is similar to its “super-expensive” software used by “the big guys” in animation who make feature length theater motion pictures.

The price difference between Solo (now being renamed Digital Pro) and Studio makes many wonder: “What the heck do I get for all the extra money?”

In other words, why animate in Solo? Why am I doing my current animation in Solo?

Solo really cranks up the software capabilities. Do you need all of these capabilities? My answer: No, bu…

Software Dongles

There has been some criticism of Toon Boom’s decision to use software dongles for Storyboard Pro and Digital Pro (originally known as Solo).

For those of you unfamiliar with Software dongles, a dongle is a small piece of hardware which plugs into the computer to enable the software to run. Typically, it is a small USB plug which unlocks the software.

Note that Toon Boom’s main consumer product, Toon Boom Studio, does not have a dongle. It simply uses a serial number to unlock the software, but there is no “activation” such as software like Windows Vista.

I am normally not a fan of dongles, but for software in the price range of Storyboard and Solo/Digital Pro, I take the dongle as a necessary evil.

In defense of the dongle, let me make these points:

1. Animation software at the level and cost of Storyboard Pro and Solo\Digital Pro has a relatively small user base and is expensive to create. These are professional level products. Specialized software is always expensive.

2. Studio, an amazin…

Toon Boom Studio 4 rated a "BUY!"

Toon Boom Studio 4 will soon be available for sale. I had a chance to review a copy of the software this week and am extremely pleased.

My priorities in working with animation software are:

1. Will I be able to learn the software in a reasonable time frame?

2. Can I make a professional grade production using the software?

3. Is the software something that is usable creatively? Is there a creative flow to the software? This is difficult to measure, but when you find it, you know it.

4. Is the documentation good? Is it REALLY good?

5. Are there tutorials? Are they also really good?

6. Features are nice, but I don’t want to drown in a sea of endless features. Other artistic programs often add so many features they make the program unusable.

7. Is the software technically solid? Crashing software only makes me insane.

My conclusions about Toon Boom Studio 4:

1. The software is very logically laid out for conventional 2-D animation. If you are used to working with old fashioned animation and are fan…

It's Here!

Toon Boom has announced a new high-end animating product!
Check it out at