Saturday, September 20, 2008

Toon Boom Studio 4.5 Arrives




The latest version of Toon Boom Studio has been released (version 4.5). It is a hundred dollar upgrade from previous versions and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical before plunking down my money. Previous updates have given some performance enhancements, but have also been a bit more challenging to older hardware. Frankly, I thought version 3.0 represented an amazingly mature product and it still ran very well on less than stellar hardware. Version 4.0 has also been excellent. What more could I possibly need? Well, I took the plunge this week.

After several days with 4.5, here are some initial conclusions:

1. This upgrade does not make your older tablet pc unusable. There are a number of adjustments available which make this upgrade faster on older tablets. That’s a big deal, because tablet pc’s are still not cheap.

2. This upgrade is the most “tablet pc compatible” version encountered. Best of all, it works very well in portrait mode on a tablet, which was previously a terrible weakness in prior versions.

3. The ability to import video files is an incredible improvement and adds an animation tool that may not be apparent in the Toon Boom description: It allows rotoscoping, meaning you can trace video motion to create a more realistic animation or at least learn more about the motion of different people and items. One of my frustrations has been to animate a person walking towards the camera. I’ve been playing with rotoscoping to create crude rough drafts that can be redone with my characters. I like this feature a lot. This represents a serious update and makes the upgrade price well worthwhile.

4. I find the Toon Boom line of software a bit interesting. I am also an enthusiastic user of Digital Pro and use this high end product from Toon Boom for most of my animations. Yet, Studio, at a tiny fraction of the price, offers features that are not available in the high end product. Specifically, the ability to do titles and import video are now serious advantages. Actually, importing video into Digital Pro is possible, but Studio’s interface for this is much more user friendly.

5. There are a lot of enhancements that I have not yet tried. The software is full featured and very nicely priced for new users. The many features are placed in such a way as to keep the product usable. At no time do I ever feel overwhelmed by “feature overload,” which can be a big problem in many art programs.

6. You will never find a better bargain for such a full featured animation product.

The software is Toon Boom Studio 4.5. If you want to animate, start at http://www.toonboom.com/.