Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

A place to discuss non-Moho software for use in animation. Video editors, audio editors, 3D modelers, etc.

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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by uncle808us » Mon Jul 27, 2020 5:15 am

I have Cartoon Animator 3 Pro and I open it every now and then then I close it and open Anime Studio 11 and get the work done.
I have never been a Real Illusion fan. When I first tried their software I don't remember which piece of software it was at the time but I bought it. Then, to get anything done you had to buy another piece of software then to get more done you would have to buy another piece of software. On and On. Now it's Animator 3 Pro Oh wait you need Pipeline. All crumbs leading up to a finished piece of software. No thanks I'll just buy MoHo and have done with it.
ONLY MY OPINION and I'm 72 and grumpy. Happy though. :D
Not saying it's bad software just the selling set up I don't like.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by Ronbo » Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:58 pm

[/quote]
Thanks for this info. I picked up a standard version of Crazy Talk Animator 3 for less than $20 on eBay, not sure it’s even worth that except to use their pre-made motions on their default characters as a reference. I watched the webinar and wondered, is this really easier and faster than in Moho? The professional feedback here is a lot more trustworthy than other stuff on the web, but I’m still hesitating. What are the advantages of pipeline vs. pro?
[/quote]

Here's a link for the differences between Pro and Pipeline. As I mentioned previously, it is possible to use Photoshop (or Krita, Clip Studio Paint, Affinity Designer, etc.) with the Pro version, though I think the Pipeline version would make the process more efficient.

https://www.reallusion.com/cartoon-anim ... comparison

Also, if you're looking for motion capture you need to buy a separate plug-in.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by exile » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:49 pm

Ronbo wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:58 pm

Here's a link for the differences between Pro and Pipeline. As I mentioned previously, it is possible to use Photoshop (or Krita, Clip Studio Paint, Affinity Designer, etc.) with the Pro version, though I think the Pipeline version would make the process more efficient.

https://www.reallusion.com/cartoon-anim ... comparison

Also, if you're looking for motion capture you need to buy a separate plug-in.
Thanks, Ronbo. What confuses me is the difference between this tool that comes with the Pro version: This Character Bundle contains G3 360 character assembly system which includes a G3 360 head composer and 3-angle G3 bodies ....

and this: The ultimate Pipeline version contains Photoshop PSD workflow, 360 Face Tools, 360 Hair Tools and 12 Classical Toon Figures for you to instsnt create your cartoon characters. (I love their spelling of instantly)

Have you used the head composer with Pro and does it make the same head movements possible with your own characters that the pre-made characters can do? I know that head turns are a craze among beginning animators, but they are impressive. A lot of the AS/Moho head turns I've seen stretch out of shape at some point - of course the pros get it right, but we mortals don't, even with onion skin and decent reference drawings - it's no easier than frame-by-frame.

Appreciate your answers, I'm still mulling this over. - Steve
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by Greenlaw » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:04 pm

DK wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:38 am
Just my opinion. I beta tested CA4 and found it quite difficult to rig a custom character having to rework a lot of pre-existing parts to make the default characters work. It would have been way easier to just do it from scratch in Moho. As far as the motions go they are limited and ok I guess. Plus you have to have Photoshop before you even start. Their forum is a desert with my questions going answered for months.
I don't know. I've only played with CA 4 Pipeline for a few weekends, but, to me, it's really not a big deal to swap out image layers in a template and move the joint markers to fit the new character's body parts. Granted, I haven't tried building an advanced character with this system yet, but it worked well with a simple character I made this past weekend. Maybe I'll try a more advanced character this weekend. Also, you don't need Photoshop; the software can link with Photoshop, Krita, Clip Studio Paint, and some other PSD compatible programs. There's even a free plugin to link it to a web-based Photoshop clone called Photopea. (So far, I've only used it with Photoshop.)

One thing I don't like about CA is the excessive amount of clicking I'm doing during animation. Yeah, I know, I've made this same complaint about ASP/Moho, but CA is way more tedious in this department. For example, you can't change a Transition Curve (Interpolation Mode in Moho terminology) on multiple keyframes at once; you have to click and apply the transition you want to each keyframe individually. This could be a problem for me since I typically have hundreds of keyframes in my animations. I also feel like I'm hopping in and out of too many windows to change tools and animation modes. I think some of this will get a little easier use as I grow more familiar with CA's UI and shortcuts but Reallusion really need to improve this. (In fairness to Moho, the program has become a lot less 'clicky' since ASP 9, back when I first started taking Moho seriously.)

As for motion capture, so far I've only used the face capture interface with the web-cam built into my laptop. It's fun to play with and I think it has uses for certain 'low-end' productions where you're willing to give up quality for immediacy, but I can't see using it in professional TV and film production. The 'twitchy' quality would never get approved where I work anyway. That said, I'm going to leverage CA's mocap feautres on a personal animation project and see how far I can push it. BTW, I ordered a Leap Motion this past weekend which I can use with CA for hand capture and puppetry. I'm a little skeptical about the device's accuracy, but if it works as advertised, it could speed up hand posing. TBD.

After I finish my project, I'll post a detailed review of CA on my website, and list how the program compares with Moho Pro for 'real-world' animation production.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by DK » Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:29 am

Admittedly I looked at the first Beta April last year before it was officially released so things may have changed a lot since then. I think my biggest annoyance was having to swap parts in a pre rigged character. It was just too creatively claustrophobic :)
One thing I loved though was the active development of the product till I joined their forum and started posting unanswered questions. Again, this may have changed a lot since. Back then there was no mention of working with other drawing apps other than they recommended Photoshop.

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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by Greenlaw » Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:18 pm

DK wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:29 am
Admittedly I looked at the first Beta April last year before it was officially released so things may have changed a lot since then. I think my biggest annoyance was having to swap parts in a pre rigged character. It was just too creatively claustrophobic :)
I wasn't involved with the beta testing, but I understand how you felt. I was first skeptical about the template system too, but after trying it with my own character art (admittedly, a tiny test so far,) I'm discovering the system is more flexible than I thought. And according to the manual, I'm not limited to using the templates, I can also work completely from scratch using the Free Bones mode. (It's probably easier to just modify one of the existing templates though, and using a template insures the rig is compatible with parts and animations made for other characters using the same or similar template.)

Where I think my CA character rigs may face animation limitations compared to my typical Moho rigs, is where I make liberal use of Smart Bone Actions for vector point animations in Moho, because there are no equivalents for these features in CA. To me, having Smart Bones driven animations in a rig is among Moho's strongest and most unique features.

On the other hand, there are labor-intensive tasks required for nearly every rig I create in Moho that are handled automatically by CA. For example, when using CA's '360' head templates to set up a head and face rig, I can pose, swap, deform, and change the stacking order of my character's face parts for up to 25 angle positions (forward, right, left, up, down, and 20 other positions in between,) and when the rig control is animated, these parts can smoothly transition from position-to-position, drawing-to-drawing, level-to-level, and warp-to-warp. For many characters, it may not be necessary to create complex Smart Bone Actions and individual custom rig controls, just pose the character in a setup window and the pose gets added to the native rig control panels. Granted, I haven't tried this process for an advanced 'production ready' character yet, but I can see how it might save me a great deal of rigging time in many common situations.

And then again, the time I save rigging a character in CA could be offset by the time I spend animating it because, as described earlier, hand keyframing in CA hasn't been as efficient as I'd like it to be.

Oh, well. I'll know better after I'm done with my project, and I totally reserve the right to change my opinions later. Knowing me, this project could end up being a hybrid thing like many of my projects, involving Moho, TVPaint, After Effects, LightWave, and now CA Pipeline. :)
Last edited by Greenlaw on Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by Greenlaw » Fri Jul 31, 2020 6:39 pm

DK wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:29 am
One thing I loved though was the active development of the product till I joined their forum and started posting unanswered questions.
Yeah, I'm not nearly as active in their forums as I am here and, so far, I've had little-to-no interaction with their developers. I'm just lurking over there until I have a better understanding of the software, and I won't have that until I actually make something with it. I do hope they're as open to feedback as Moho's developers have been in the past. TBD.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by exile » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:13 pm

These comments by Moho users convinced me to test CA4. I'm a long ways from knowledgable, but did find out a few things already.
The test version has a source file for the "bone hand" template, which replaces switch-layer sprites and allows for smooth transitions between hand positions. It was so much work just deleting, transferring and replacing images that I was thinking, if this is a program for idiots, the idiots sure have to work (maybe that's what makes us idiots). But when the PSD file was saved (in another drawing program, not Photoshop) the character was automatically updated in CA4 and the hand movements were impressive, especially after going back into the PSD editor to readjust the node points for the bones.

I also discovered that the famous/infamous prefabricated movements can be edited using the 2D motion key editor (which has a sub-editor just for hands) and then saved as a custom movement. The posing and key frame system is much like Moho's. No smart or target bones, only simple rotation but at least it works. I'm skeptical about saving a lot of time compared to Moho, but for people who constantly have rigging problems, the template system is a compromise between freedom to create something new and a much better chance the puppet will move as expected. Just to compare, I loaded the PSD file with the hand images into Moho and tried to duplicate the bone setup. Each hand had 17 segments. The rigging went faster than the template procedure in CA4, but the joints stuck out when rotating, apparently CA4 has a different rigging system and the drawings were geared to that.

One surprise was the rather poor quality of showcased animations at the website. But I don't think that's the fault of the software. And watch out for the tutorials with a guy who says "ok" so many times it will drive you up the wall. Unfortunately there's no way around him if you want to learn how to use the latest version.

I think I'm probably going to get the program, until Aug. 13th they have a sale which puts the Pro version at $89 and the Pipeline at $159, both without Mocap. No, I get no percentages. Info, not advertising.

Looking forward to reading more of your experiences.

- Steve
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by Greenlaw » Sat Aug 01, 2020 4:47 pm

exile wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:13 pm
I also discovered that the famous/infamous prefabricated movements can be edited using the 2D motion key editor (which has a sub-editor just for hands) and then saved as a custom movement.
Yes, this aspect of CA is like using Motion Builder, a mocap editing program for 3D animation rigs. The pre-animated clips-based system makes it easy to apply a an animation or to chain a sequence of animations, and mix and re-time them. And, yeah, the clips just containers for keyframes and the source of the keyframes can be mocap, hand-animated, or a mixture of sources, all fully editable by the animator. By providing a standard rig structure (for body, face, and hand), the clips are sharable and re-useable for other characters, even when they have completely different body proportions. This is a common system in the 3D world, but CA applies the same concepts to 2D rigs.

As for the quality of the default animations, users aren't restricted to the canned motions and can create their own custom library of clips.
The posing and key frame system is much like Moho's. No smart or target bones, only simple rotation but at least it works.
I find animating in Moho is a bit easier, especially when switching between IK/FK. In CA, I'm having to constantly enable/disable IK to use FK but in Moho I just hold the Alt key (when using the MB tool) to temporarily disable IK. IMO, Moho's approach is far less disruptive to the animation process. (But allow me to qualify this by saying perhaps I simply haven't found the equivalent shortcut in CA yet. Still learning.)

As for Bone Target, in CA you are able to Lock any bone in place from a window. But, yeah, that's not exactly the same thing and I'm not sure it can do everything I use Moho's Bone Targets for in CA yet.
I'm skeptical about saving a lot of time compared to Moho but for people who constantly have rigging problems, the template system is a compromise between freedom to create something new and a much better chance the puppet will move as expected.
Same here. I can see the CA system saving me rigging time for general purpose character rigs but, yeah, I feel like I may be giving up the freedom to add custom features and controls the developers hadn't considered. For example, at this time, I don't think I can fully reproduce many of the Moho rigs I built for Boss Baby: Back In Business or the Kung Fu Panda rig seen on my 2019 demo reel. TBD.
Just to compare, I loaded the PSD file with the hand images into Moho and tried to duplicate the bone setup. Each hand had 17 segments. The rigging went faster than the template procedure in CA4, but the joints stuck out when rotating, apparently CA4 has a different rigging system and the drawings were geared to that.
For Boss Baby, I created a similar hand rig in Moho. We have complete freedom to pose the fingers using SBDs, and when the hand is rotated from front to back, it keeps the pose. This was not easy to create but it is not difficult to transplant to another character either. (Well, at least in Moho 12.5. Unfortunately, this hand setup can't be transferred to another character in Moho 13 because of changes made to the Smart Bone System, which is why we haven't upgraded at my workplace yet. Sigh!)

A co-worker asked me to make a tutorial video for setting up hands in Moho...I'll make a public video on this topic in the near future.

That said, yeah, CA has a hand system already built-in. It can't cover every situation, but it seems like it will do a good job in a lot of common ones.
Last edited by Greenlaw on Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by Greenlaw » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:08 pm

Oh, and I REALLY miss not having in CA the equivalent of Moho's Sketch Bones tool. I use this tool in Moho all the time to animate tails, hair, and rubber hose limbs. IMO, Sketch Bones is so much faster and more natural to work with than IK or FK for this type of animation.

It's another reason I think some of the time saved rigging in CA may get lost during animation.
Last edited by Greenlaw on Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by uncle808us » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:27 pm

Good sale but unfortunately only for OS 10.12+ I run 10.11 due to my computer's age.
I use a MacBook Pro, and Anime Studio Pro 11.2
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by exile » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:01 pm

Greenlaw, I greatly appreciate your time and trouble to give detailed answers. You are right about the target bones, I see I've barely scratched the surface. Also, what I wrote about showcased work was not correct, there are some good films after the first three.

For a professional like yourself, the possible benefit of CA4 is time-saving as a trade-off for some of the unique Moho features. You have learned to plan, design, rig and animate so you normally get it right the first time. Hobbyists like myself tend to realize our mistakes when we are already into the project. That makes these capabilities appealing: You can change your design at any time (edit: and/or transfer actions to other characters) without having to start over.

Edit Aug. 6, 2020: After further experiments, I'm still undecided. The template system has pros and cons as noted in other posts. Two new features make it less tedious: You can substitute a "bone hand" instead of drawing 29 (!) sprites for every original character (per hand!) as in version 3. Also, you can work with fewer facial sprites if you convert the character from sprite-based to smooth transitions based on morphs, much like in Moho except it is easier to set up. I've only worked with bitmaps, the mesh system is easier for me to use than Moho's triangulated warp meshes.

Edit Aug. 8, 2020: I'm adding a made in Moho head turn using the same bitmaps as I used in CT4, except hair is added (not from template). This is low-skill, very simple layer animation with bitmaps and nothing to crow about. I didn't create the center to right turn, not necessary for this test. However, I like it as much as the CA4 movements. Working with Moho was more straightforward and hands on than the tedious substitution of components in CA4 (for me), and it was easier to tweak the results. The hair was drawn completely wrong, and yet with the mesh I could fake it to some extent. The CA4 360 editor does weird stuff with hair, I found. With eye and face meshes more realism would be possible, although making eyes this big is probably asking for trouble in any software.

So what was the point of the short, intensive Odyssey? To rediscover Moho and finding it is worth digging into, there are probably solutions for the snags I've run into in past projects. A pro might have no trouble mastering two or more softwares, especially if interested in Mocap. I'd best stick to one. So thanks to all who shared their experiences and added feedback to this discussion.

Keep safe, Steve

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Last edited by exile on Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Cartoon Animator 4 (CT4)

Post by Greenlaw » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:34 pm

My Leap Motion arrived the other day. Naturally, I started doing a lot of OT this week, so I probably won't get to test it till this weekend at earliest. TBH, I'm a little skeptical about how useful this device is for motion capture, but I'm hoping to use it in both Cartoon Animator 4 Pipeline and iClone 4 Pipeline for quick hand posing and puppetry. Will post what I think about the device when I'm able to.
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