New Toon Boom "Animate" Released

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mkelley
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New Toon Boom "Animate" Released

Post by mkelley » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:55 pm

I'm sure there will some on here that will find it amusing I'm bringing this up, but others will understand that I'm fair minded and really looking for the best no matter where I might find it.

I got a notice for the new Toon Boom "Animate" program and think it's at least worth checking out for some here. I love AS as much as anyone (well, maybe with the possible exception of Vern :>) but that doesn't mean I don't recognize the value in other tools, either in conjunction or, dare I say it, as a possible replacement.

While it's hard to tell from the advert, it at least *appears* they've positioned this as a more cutout friendly package. I don't want to get into people flaming me for suggesting that using TB software for this purpose is a bit like painful dentistry (or watching "The Love Guru") but since there's a demo you can try it out for yourself and see if it's worth the price of admission (still a little steep but certainly in the AS Pro ballpark).

I don't have the time to check this out now (maybe in another month) but the question begs as to why, if I love AS so much, I'd be interested in doing so. The answer is there are things I think could be improved in AS and I firmly believe they will not be. That's my own belief, and I could be wrong, but based on my long experience I doubt it. So exploring new software is always going to be an option for me. Others will have to make up their own minds.

Here's the link (although anyone with a browser could find it):

http://www.toonboom.com/products/animate/features.php

(And perhaps I have a hidden agenda here: while I have in no way any time now to explore this, others who might could report back here and tell me not to waste my time... )
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Post by jahnocli » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:36 pm

Looks very interesting. I have an old copy of ToonBoom (version 2), so I'm kind of familiar with the interface. I always loved that interactive 3D camera, and the fact that you could easily rotate the drawing area, but in other respects it was a bit clunky to use. Looks like ToonBoom are catching up fast.

I hear you loud and clear on development -- just had a bitch about that in another thread. Don't have the money to buy this software at present, but it's certainly something to think about for the future. (Incidentally, looks like it doesn't export .swf files, which is a bit of a downer...)
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Post by dm » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:38 pm

Retail is $999 ($699 intro price through Dec). Hopefully, they'll have a Studio to Animate upgrade deal.

Is that really in the ASPro ballpark?

I downloaded the demo last night. I'm not clear about how it differs from Digital Pro (yet). It does look very promising. It also looks like they've been listening to user feature requests. So they now have 11 pieces of software? Wow. (some are 'pro' vs 'nonpro' versions)

First play, it looks pretty promising. It will be a little while before I can be more in depth than that (Work just got in the way-for about two weeks)


-dm
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Post by mkelley » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:55 pm

The introductory price is definitely within AS Pro -- isn't AS pro now around $400? (Sorry, I may be mistaken. Don't pay too much attention since they'll never be a version I have to pay for again :>).

After looking through the manual I see that the same old clunky rigging is there -- much like the previous versions it just is WAY overkill for a single artist. I'm trying to figure out how you could actually SAVE time by doing it that way, and it just doesn't compute. Yes, I know that setting up a "regular" character is only done once, but in our show we introduce two or three new ones each week (similar to "Family Guy") and the overhead would just be a killer (right now I can draw and rig about three new characters a day -- looking at that workflow it would be more like three new ones a MONTH).

OTOH, I lust after the lipsync stuff, would kill for the ease curves they allow, and certainly think their layering (similar to the Adobe suite stuff) is first rate. All of which *could* be accomplished in AS if it were going to be upgraded (which it aint).
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Post by The400th » Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:38 pm

dm wrote:So they now have 11 pieces of software?
Their plan must be to hook people on the $99 version, then when people need more functions, they pay to upgrade to the $199 version, and so on until the customer has bought all 11 versions and paid much more than the most expensive version would cost in the first place. :D

But I do take back everything I said about the Anime Studio name being mundane and difficult to Google for - calling their software "Animate" has to be one of the weirdest marketing decisions I've ever seen.

If they combine Toon Boom Animate and Toon Boom Studio, will it be called Toon Boom Animate Studio? :shock:
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Post by dm » Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:46 pm

$199 for AS Pro

"Pegs" are as annoying as ever. IK bones seemed pretty easy. Haven't played enough to know most of the other stuff goes.

I must be missing something about rigging in Toon Boom as compared to AS. Seems pretty quick and easy to me, just different. Perhaps this will show itself once I've had some more time in the software (TB)

-dm
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Post by mkelley » Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:54 pm

dm,

When you say "pegs are annoying as ever" but then go on to say that rigging isn't complicated I'm a little confused. Are not pegs the heart (and soul :>) of the rigging? Or can you rig without them? Or, if not, does the "annoyance" not mean it isn't easy but annoying in some other, unfathomed by me, manner?

I suppose I'm basing my take on the rigging only by the manual -- perhaps you don't need to do the (literally) hundreds of steps it talks about to rig a character. Right now, for example, I drew and rigged a character from scratch in AS in about fifteen minutes (yes, that includes drawing time). Is this a reasonable expectation in Toon Boom?

And perhaps we are talking Apples and Oranges -- when I talk about rigs I mean "bending" rigs -- I don't consider a strictly cutout animation style as rigged. I need to be able to draw a limb or a body and then put bones behind it so that I can bend the arm, have the character bend naturally at the waist, raise his shoulders, etc. AFAIK this just ain't possible in any version of TB without a whole lot of hassle.

I suppose in a perfect world I'd spend a month or two testing the software out (it's really nice they do allow a test drive like that) but I can't take the time. So I'll have to rely on good folks like yourself to put me straight when it comes to these things.

(One thing is for sure -- if it IS easy they need to rewrite their manuals, because the manual is the most daunting piece of writing I've ever seen when it comes to telling someone how to use software).
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Post by heyvern » Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:50 pm

The price is still too high for me to do more than glance at it. $700? $900? Sheesh. Even if the next upgrade to AS pro costs money it won't be anywhere close to that.

The current price for AS Pro is still $200. From what I see in those feature videos, there still isn't anything it can do that AS can't do with a little effort. There wasn't anything I saw that was worth an extra $400 or $500 dollars.

A few things I saw that jumped out:
variable stroke widths... sweet but... you can do that in AS with a little work.
Motion path curve adjustment (easing)... yes we need that in AS but it is possible to work around it.
Multiplane with 3D camera? Got that.
Bones? Please...
Lip sync?... papagayo
Adjustable gradient fills... yes... AS needs that. However there are workarounds.

I'm sure there are a lot more things I didn't cover... it always comes down to price vs. features for me. Are the features worth the much higher price? Should I get the car with the sunroof or just roll down my windows? Do I buy a pure bred show dog or get one from the pound? ;)

Is all that worth $700 or $900? If so and you can afford it that is great. I can't afford it. I own AS already. Not in the market for an expensive new animation tool. Just an opinion. (I don't like dogs really and if I had a sunroof the top of my bald head would get sunburn.) ;)

Who knows what the next version of AS will bring.

-vern
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Post by Víctor Paredes » Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:55 pm

heyvern wrote:Who knows what the next version of AS will bring.
Poses?
please it must be poses! :roll:
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Post by dueyftw » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:42 am

Can see paying for even a up grade, form the 3.5 to the current. The amount that I use toonboom is a most never now.

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Post by chucky » Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:51 am

Mike , Hi , this version of toon boom looks as Dale said like they are starting to listen to the feature requests.
The gradients and the pen response of toon boom are definitely superior to ASPRO, timeline curves are better too, not to mention a more accurate preview.
Please tell me Mike that this rumour that ASPRO is in its final incarnation is just a feeling you have, or is there some evidence of this? :?
If it is then it looks like we will all have to eventually take TB or Flash more seriously.
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Post by J. Baker » Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:46 am

I'm just wondering how many versions of Toon Boom do they really need? Not to be rude but I laughed when I saw this. I think the company should have one for average users and one for professional users. It's more of a marketing gimick of, oooo a new animation software. A way of introducing new features at a full price instead of an upgrade to one of their current programs. I would feel ripped if I were a Toon Boom user.

All in all, I'm satisfied with AS Pro. So I really don't care. ;)
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Post by dm » Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:19 am

It's not just versions of Toon Boom. Included in that number is two storyboard things, and a comic strip thing. Even so, it's weird that they have such a diversity of products (and I'm guessing some specific niche market for each?) I agree, two or three versions of the software should cover everyone.

Toon Boom does have a pretty good upgrade/sidegrade policy. It's fairly cost effective to change up (like might even cost less than buying the higher version in the first place). They've also had a pretty good cost for version upgrades-all along.

Hopefully this won't happen, but in my conversations with people from Smith Micro, one person mentioned that he thought AS Pro should cost a lot more-since it offers a lot more than what they're charging for it. I believe that the thought was that costing more made it seem more valuable to "Pro" users. He did mention that there was some resistance to a price change. But, you never know (just look at the price jump from MoHo to ASP).

There was also mention of 'the next version', though more conceptually than with any sort of actuality. So, I think there is a plan for a future-even if it's a bit distant. (for Anime Studio Pro, that is)

-dm
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Post by chucky » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:15 am

I use one of those toon boom storyboard thingies, for freelance work.
It it produces a great PDF and for the moment it's the best in the market, BUT, it has such gross shortfallings that I really hate it.
It is BTW totally based on the other prodaucts in the TB family so it really is only a b unch of PDF template generators on top of the vector drawing tools, which are good for clean up but not so good for boards (better than ASPRO's though).
It is admittedly not the pro version but it still costs twice as much as ASPRO (it doesn't even have save as function and the crappest saved file system I have ever had the misfortune to use), the pro version is double again at about 800 bucks an unjustifiable amount.
I would be suspicious of any toonboom purchase, they want you on their gravy train, make no mistake.
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Post by mkelley » Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:57 pm

I've written about this in private, but I'll take a chance here and try and encapsulate my feelings about why we'll never see version 6.0 of AS.

I made a living as an analyst -- that included analysis of all kinds of things (mostly for programming, which I also did) but also in the software industry. I did this for 30 years and I was pretty successful -- not always right, but my track record was better than most. Plus I was a one-man shop developer myself for around five years, with a product that was quite successful for its time (I was world famous for five minutes). Those are my credentials.

I don't think Mike will come back to AS for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is ROI. In this industry the real money comes from upgrades, which is why products HAVE so many upgrades. It's kind of a chicken/egg sort of thing -- the upgrade costs pay for future R&D. You get a substantial user base willing to pay $100 (or more) for an upgrade and you can make a comfortable living developing the software the rest of your life. But the price model of AS as well as the user base mindset does not lend itself towards this. This alone may have killed any chance AS had of taking off big time.

If Mike works on it now he has to decide if it's worth his time -- new sales will not drive that (new sales for almost ANY existing product are a very tiny fraction of the revenue stream). Are all of you here willing to pay a reasonable (I'd guess at this point at least $100) cost for 6.0? My hunch is it would take that. Any other kind of point development (5.7, whatever) may come as a labor of love, but there is only so much love you can have for your product. Eventually you get tired of even working on it, because you come to a point where the only way you can really make a breakthrough and add value is to do some major rewrites which will require money which you may not get.

And that, in my final analysis, is what will really keep AS from going any further. I think it has a hugely rich feature set and while there are many of us (me included!) who would like a tiny little thing or two added the truth is that doing any major upgrade will require major work, and that just isn't cost effective for anyone. The other factor which comes into play here is the longer he stays away from the code, the harder it is to come back to it. I speak from long experience here -- at a certain point the idea of revisiting your old product is just so horrendous you decide you've moved on.

I hope I'm wrong -- I'd pay big bucks (truly) to be wrong. I'll buy a copy or two of version 6.0 just to help, at whatever cost (under $500, say) it takes. And I won't try and argue any of these points, because this is my analysis and if someone doesn't agree that's fine, they see things differently. It's always possible that Mike is that rare one in a million that doesn't fit the pattern -- certainly the software proves that he had a unique vision and I'm truly thankful for it.
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