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Toon Boom Animate

The newest releases software makes professional animation easier By Ko Maruyama
It's only been a few months since Toon Boom has announced new software for its professional  user base. The company's latest creation, Animate, an application that helps animators create professional quality animation in a user-friendly environment, has just released. Although the newest software is a full featured professional package, it also targets newer Toon Boom users and  animation students especially. In this series of reviews, I will take a look at the many facets of the latest software from Toon Boom: Animate.

I should stipulate that Toon Boom Animate  is completely professional software, and shares the difficult learning curve you'd expect.  I have to confess, that when I agreed to review " some new software from Toon Boom" only a few days ago, I fully expected that I might be handed something simple, like Flip Boom, Comic Boom or Animationish.   I don't think I was fully prepared for a robust, professional package like the one in Animate.   We've seen Toon Boom Studio,  Digital Pro,  and for the studios, something like (Opus) Harmony. The latest offering really is the missing link in this family of animation software, and may prove to be the  "popular sibling".  It has nearly all of the features of its older pro siblings - certainly all of the features that a professional animator would use daily - but it's perfectly tailored for a serious workstation animator.

If you're new to Animate (let's face it, we all are), or more importantly, if you're new to the Toon Boom family of professional animation software, the software comes with training... lots of training. There are over 100 minutes ( that's an hour and a half+ ) of training that is downloadable and integrated with the installation. (There are promises of more tips and templates to follow on the Toon Boom website This training is only deep beginning of what is possible with the software and roughly outlines the potential of some of the well developed tools in the package.  I should mention that there are ( including this gripping introduction and scripting reference ) in an over 800  pages of documentation that you can find by accessing the help.



Although there are many different tools the software provides,  they aren't inaccessible to the new user. As a matter of fact there, are many elements  within Toon Boom Animate that will really allow new pro users and students to grow  from the basic tools into the advanced tools in the same software package.


Of course,Toon Boom  is known for its vector animation tools,  but this software can also import bitmap files including QuickTime movies  SWF  files Photoshop documents and even PDF formats -- and of course adobe illustrator files. If you want to export to QuickTime movies or  Adobe FLVs,  that's possible as well.

There is a huge list of the advanced features that he'll find in Toon Boom Animate,  but some of the ones you might not expect and will be pleasantly surprised by are capabilities like: real-time anti-aliasing, pencil tool to draw a centerline as in some of the more advanced software options converting center lines to  contour lines, or conversely changing contour lines to centerline vectors,  the ability to slice drawings with different cutting tools, a simple way to mark in between, break down, keyframe drawings for precise frame by frame animation, unlimited number of palettes,  the ability to store your animated elements and sequences, the ability to create a library of effects, access to all of you are media assets, unique animation at the beach for each drawing layer, the ability to modify all key for mobile layers values directly in the timeline, and so many more.



Additionally, Toon Boom Animate comes with  a player that allows you to play back your animations in real-time, change  your frame rate, select a region of your animation to view, playback your RGB or Matte  animations separately, and give you the control that you need to review your animation.

 Although I've gone through the tutorials and some of the tools in the Toon Boom Animate, it's obvious that the multitude of features can't be summed up in a first review.  Overall, it has most of the professional features that Digital Pro is so famously known for, but Toon Boom Animate is offered at a much lower price (and even lower introductory price at the time of this article).  Whether you're currently a professional cel animator, or you have any aspirations of becoming a pro animator, Toon Boom's Animate offers the perfect package to allow you to showcase your talents.  If you want to find out more, or would like to download a demo version or educational license, you can do so by visiting their website: www.ToonBoom.com.



 

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:Product Review, Animation, cel animation, cartooning, cartoon animation, anime

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