Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby JetT » Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:13 pm

Nothing has changed for me. If I had to rank software for their intended use...

If you want to do frame-by-frame/traditional Disney/anime/hand-drawn animation:
Retas > Toon Boom Essentials > Flipbook > TVPaint

Retas because it has the best inking and painting engine (for celshade) and makes doing shadow markup a doddle, but unless you're in Japan you probably won't be using it, in that case it would have to be Toon Boom.

If you want to do puppet/point/rigged/bone/deform animation:
CelAction2D > Toon Boom Harmony > Anime Studio > After Effects

CelAction2D because of its ability to make point animation look more natural and for its ease of use, however... it costs 10x that of ASP.

Only way to tell at the end of the day is to try them for yourself though.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby Greenlaw » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:55 pm

JaMike wrote:But I don't think Animate Pro had been updated for years, and it wasn't compatible with Harmony, so it's not just a simple renaming...

At work this morning, I was posting an unrelated question about Harmony on the TB forums and stumbled upon info about this. Apparently, if you log into your TB account, there is an online tool that converts Animate Pro format files to Harmony Advanced format. I'm assuming the tool only appears in your account after you've upgraded. I haven't upgraded my personal Animate Pro license so I can't confirm this. (I upgraded to Animate Pro version 3 only last spring so I'm not terribly motivated to upgrade again so soon.)

At the moment, I think Anime Studio Pro 11 can handle the FBF needs for my personal projects but I thought the above info might be useful to anybody that needed to do this conversion.

G.

Correction: Reading other posts and it sounds like the online thing not actually a converter, it's only to submit files for conversion. They have to convert the files for you by hand so it could take some time to get your files.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby JaMike » Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:59 pm

Greenlaw wrote:Correction: Reading other posts and it sounds like the online thing not actually a converter, it's only to submit files for conversion. They have to convert the files for you by hand so it could take some time to get your files.


And it's a one-time thing for when people are upgrading - you can't run a studio with 20 Animate Pro licenses and one Harmony license and get them to upgrade your files on a daily basis.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby Greenlaw » Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:53 pm

That makes sense. I guess it's similar to how Houdini Indie > Houdini works.

The important thing is that the service is available for legitimate use. Earlier it was suggested that you couldn't use Animate Pro files in Harmony at all.

G.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby JaMike » Sun Jul 19, 2015 4:28 pm

Greenlaw wrote:The important thing is that the service is available for legitimate use. Earlier it was suggested that you couldn't use Animate Pro files in Harmony at all.


That depends on your definition of "legitimate use" :) - the only reason Animate Pro files don't work in Harmony is because The Man wants you to buy 20 Harmony licenses instead of 20 Animate Pro licenses even though you're only using the Animate Pro features that you have already paid for. A lot of people would consider that legitimate use.

Animate Pro was sold as a professional solution, and cost a lot more than Houdini Indie does. This was corporate greed, pure and simple. :evil:

But anyway, it's all water under the bridge now, since you can't get Animate Pro. Looks like they stopped being greedy - I assume you can use Harmony Essentials files in Harmony Premium without conversion. :D
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:47 pm

JaMike wrote:the only reason Animate Pro files don't work in Harmony is because The Man wants you to buy 20 Harmony licenses instead of 20 Animate Pro licenses even though you're only using the Animate Pro features that you have already paid for. A lot of people would consider that legitimate use.

I don't understand this comment at all. The reason you would want to convert your Animate Pro files to Harmony is only because you upgraded the software to Harmony. Just because you have a single license of Harmony doesn't mean you need to update the work files for your 20 other Animate Pro licenses. If you do need need the features of Harmony for 20 other artists, then of course you need to purchase 20 more licenses of Harmony.

Animate Pro was sold as a professional solution, and cost a lot more than Houdini Indie does. This was corporate greed, pure and simple. :evil:

I agree...I had upgraded to Animate Pro 3 shortly before Toon Boom offered the upgrade to Harmony Advanced, and I only upgraded because I thought it would help me learn at home when we started using Harmony at my workplace. I think my purchase was made only a month earlier, and since the upgrade cost me around $500 (which is a pretty significant amount,) I asked the sales department if there would be a break for users in my situation. All I got in response was silence and crickets.

I don't regret upgrading to Animate Pro 3 because it served my purpose, but the silent treatment from their sales department did sour me on upgrading to Harmony Advanced. I might have upgraded my personal license to Harmony Advanced shortly after its release if there had been a reply to my questions but, as it stands, I'm in no hurry to upgrade now.

...I assume you can use Harmony Essentials files in Harmony Premium without conversion. :D

I think so but it's probably a one-way trip if you want to use certain features like Curve deformers. I'm pretty sure you won't be able to animate or edit Curve deformers in Essentials that were set up in Premium, and anything created with Premium using advanced features will pretty much stay in Premium. In that sense, it's no different than before--if you are an Animate Pro user and you want to use Harmony features, then you upgraded and converted your Animate Pro files to Harmony...but once the files were in Harmony, it stayed there.

(Personally, I never liked the idea of offering so many versions of a single program. I understand why they do it, but it's an artificial marketing strategy and I think many users find it annoying and even confusing. Also, multiple versions of a release unnecessarily complicates things for the development staff, and probably delays releases to users. IMO, it would be better if they just lowered the price and only offered a single version.)

As for 'greed', they can charge as much as people are willing to pay them for their software--can't fault them for that. Harmony is a good program and I like using it at my workplace, but I think for me personally, it is too expensive to justify for my own productions...and that's only one reason why I prefer to use Anime Studio Pro for my personal work. :)

G.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby JaMike » Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:40 am

Greenlaw wrote:
JaMike wrote:the only reason Animate Pro files don't work in Harmony is because The Man wants you to buy 20 Harmony licenses instead of 20 Animate Pro licenses even though you're only using the Animate Pro features that you have already paid for. A lot of people would consider that legitimate use.

I don't understand this comment at all. The reason you would want to convert your Animate Pro files to Harmony is only because you upgraded the software to Harmony. Just because you have a single license of Harmony doesn't mean you need to update the work files for your 20 other Animate Pro licenses. If you do need need the features of Harmony for 20 other artists, then of course you need to purchase 20 more licenses of Harmony.


I'm talking about cases where you have animators just doing drawings using the Animate Pro licenses, and then the final scene is done using effects in the full Harmony licenses. This is especially useful if you are using freelancers who can't afford Harmony Standalone (and if they've taken advantage of one of the frequent special offers, they got Animate Pro very cheap).

It was just a way that small studios could save money, perfectly legitimately, but they couldn't because Toon Boom wanted more money than they were entitled to. Anyway, they've finally seen the light, so it doesn't matter.

All they have to do now is catch up to Anime Studio. :D
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:20 am

But if all you're talking about is adding effects, it's really not a big deal to have a crew working in Animate Pro (or any animation program for that matter,) and merge their work with Harmony (current or older release.) All you need to do is set your Write nodes to render out layer passes and the bring the renders into Harmony as layers, and then add your effects. No need for file conversions or adding extra licenses of Harmony--this is just a normal workflow.

This is no different from rendering layers from Animate Pro or Anime Studio Pro (using the Layer Comp system and Batch Export) and bringing the passes into a 3D composting program like Fusion or After Effects to add effects. It's totally legal (the tools are designed for this purpose) and it can fit easily in a modest production budget.

Pre-rendering layers and then adding effects in another program (or even in a separate pass in the same program) is what I do even on the big budget productions at my workplace. It has little do with cost, it's just more efficient to work this way.

G.
Last edited by Greenlaw on Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby Greenlaw » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:34 am

A good example of breaking out and pre-rendering a scene would be the scene I finished at work last week. Without going into specifics (NDA reasons of course) I had a scene that featured about 17 characters which ran for about 624 frames. Most of the animation was with characters heavily rigged in Harmony, and I also needed to add a lot of particle effects, special deformations and transitional effects. This was a bit much even for Harmony to handle so I had to break it down to three separate project files--frames 1 to 350, frames 351 - 624, and a file for wind, wind debris particles and snow fx using the same camera. Each project was then broken into multiple passes: deep backdrop, main background, characters, a character mask, creatures, foreground, and fx layer. All of this was then assembled in After FX where I then added special deformations (that were too difficult to do in Harmony but easy in AE with Liquify and Puppet) and displacement effects (for a 'shivering' effect on characters) and another layer of particle fx using Trapcode Particular.

Using Harmony was almost incidental though--except for the Curve deformer used in the characters, I could just as well have done the animation in Animate Pro (or Anime Studio Pro for that matter,) and still finish scene in After Effects, Nuke or Fusion...it really doesn't matter...the result would have been comparable in style and quality, and probably taken about the same amount of time to complete.

IMO, it's really more how carefully you plan with your available assets (time, money and tools) than it is about the specific software packages or their cost. For example Fusion is usually my preferred composting program--it's fully capable of high end feature film work and you can use it for free nowadays. Even the paid commercial version is reasonably price for a small production studio compared to say Nuke.

A studio that needs to be more budget conscious about their pipeline (like me with my personal projects,) can actually do much of what a big studio can if they're smart about it.

G.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby JaMike » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:14 am

Greenlaw wrote:But if all you're talking about is adding effects, it's really not a big deal to have a crew working in Animate Pro (or any animation program for that matter,) and merge their work with Harmony (current or older release.) All you need to do is set your Write nodes to render out layer passes and the bring the renders into Harmony as layers, and then add your effects. No need for file conversions or adding extra licenses of Harmony--this is just a normal workflow.

This is no different from rendering layers from Animate Pro or Anime Studio Pro (using the Layer Comp system and Batch Export) and bringing the passes into a 3D composting program like Fusion or After Effects to add effects. It's totally legal (the tools are designed for this purpose) and it can fit easily in a modest production budget.

Pre-rendering layers and then adding effects in another program (or even in a separate pass in the same program) is what I do even on the big budget productions at my workplace. It has little do with cost, it's just more efficient to work this way.

G.


I'm not talking about visual effects, I mean drawn effects like splashes of water or smoke, but also the workflow I'm talking about allows you to do reusable assets like mouths and hands that could be added to similar characters. For that kind of thing, you HAVE to bring the assets into Harmony in their vector form, rendering in Animate Pro and then compositing in Harmony would be out of the question.

But you've just encapsulated perfectly the sales pitch (as it was) from Animate Pro to Harmony - if you don't want to have a really complicated workflow of pre-rendering, just pay to have all your seats using Harmony. And make all your freelancers pay for it as well, even though they aren't using any Harmony-specific features. Good times for Toon Boom, not so good for struggling artists.

At least NOW the freelancers can rent the version they need, only during the time they are actually working on that project. So it's good times for artists from now on! :D
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby TzaTza4love » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:05 pm

I find Toon Boom Software to be easy to use.
I understand some people find Anime Studio Pro to be easy to use.
I find Anime Studio hard which is why I am on this forum.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby Greenlaw » Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:53 pm

TzaTza4love wrote:I find Toon Boom Software to be easy to use.
I understand some people find Anime Studio Pro to be easy to use.
I find Anime Studio hard which is why I am on this forum.


IMO, it depends on what you're wanting to do with your animations. At the studio where I work, we use both Toon Boom Harmony and Moho 12.

For FBF, Toon Boom Harmony has an advantage because it features (arguably) better drawing tools for bitmap and vectors. Also, its nodal scene editor allows you to set up some very sophisticated masking and layering tricks not possible in Moho. The downside to this is that changing things in the nodes editor can completely hose your animation library.

Moho's FBF tools are very new and still needs improvement. The drawing tools are all vector based but they're capable of very natural looks. I use the FBF occasionally for effects like fire, water/lava splashes and other fx animation, but I think it's still a little awkward to use for more complicated animations. The developers are working to improve the Freehand drawing tools and it has been improving with every release, so I'm optimistic that it will get where it needs to be eventually.

For rigged characters, Moho is far more capable than Toon Boom Harmony. Moho features a much easier to set up bones system with fully functional IK with goals. This makes it easier and more reliable to 'lock down' hands and feet. Harmony does not have an IK system for its deformers, and to simulate 'locking', you need to create a second reverse limb for every limb and point it towards its 'parent' manually. It's not horrible to animate with but it is clunky compared to how bones with a real IK system--like the one in Moho--works. (FYI, Harmony does have a primitive version of IK but no option for Goals and it doesn't work with Deformers, so it's not particularly useful.)

Both programs have a method for swapping drawings, Drawing Substitution in Harmony and Switch Layer in Moho. Moho's system is easier to manage because there are several ways to use it: directly right clicking on the layer to choose from a list of drawings, Ctrl-Alt Right-Click on the art in the workspace, cycling wth Alt-D and Alt-C, selecting from the settings bar for the Switch tool, using a Smart Bone Dial, using the new Switch Selection window, and a few more. With Harmony, you have the Drawing Subsitution panel, you can use brackets to cycle the drawings, or you can input values directly in a dopesheet.

The big advantage with Moho is that you can make selections non-linearly and not have to cycle through a long list of drawings. That said, I prefer Harmony's Drawing Subsition panel to Moho's Switch Selection Window because Hamony's version displays the images as they were drawn and Moho's panel applies current frame's animation/deformation to the drawing, which makes is less desirable to work with. When you really get down to it, however, Moho Switch Layer system still works better if you use Ctrl-Alt Right-Click because it's more direct and it lets you make drawing selections without cycling. Alternatively, being able to use a Smart Bone Dial to drive the switch is a powerful option not available in Harmony.

I'm not going to choose sides about which is better: I like and use both programs, and both program have certain aspects about them that sometimes makes me nuts. But if I had to choose only one program and because I rely heavily on rigged character animations in my work, I'd go with Moho in a heartbeat. Other users may have differing experiences but personally I find Moho is much easier to setup and animate rigged characters with, and it's far less likely to invalidate your animation library when you make small changes to the rigs. (If I worked primarily as an FBF animator, I might feel differently, but that's not what I do.)

Hope this helps.

Edit: I also find Moho's 3D environment is easier to work with than Harmony's. It's not perfect but it's much easier to navigate in and manipulate layers/objects inside of. Also, I think Moho's 'Maintain Visual Size' option may be unique and it's super useful when setting up multi-plane scenes.
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Re: Why would anyone choose to use Animate Pro?

Postby TzaTza4love » Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:28 pm

I agree Moho is better for Rigged characters. That is the reason I bought Anime Studio Pro 11 in the first place. I wanted to be good at both frame by frame and rigged character animation. I use Harmony Essentials for frame by frame animation. I use Anime Studio for character rigging. I wanted to create a cartoon using character rigs with Anime Studio. I have a permanent license of Harmony Essentials because I don't believe in software as a service. I love that Smithmicro offers permanent licenses for their software. I hope they don't follow the software as a service trend like Adobe. Toon Boom Still offers permanent licenses alongside subscriptions which is more reasonable than Adobe.
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