Toon Boom Studio Review – How Does It Compare To Flash?

By Jason More

Whenever people talk about a software to use for web animation and graphics, usually the first name to come up is Flash from Adobe. Flash has helped to revolutionise the visual aspect of the internet and enabled professionals and hobbyists alike to add their creative flavour to the web.

However, it has been criticised for not being a strong enough tool for animators who require that extra level of complexity and suite of tools, especially animators with a lot of experience in traditional animation.

The Toon Boom Studio software was designed with these animators in mind and refers to itself as an animator’s software. Does it live up to its billing? How does it compare to Flash? Let’s find out in this Toon Boom Studio review…

Workflow

The first and most striking difference between Toon Boom and Flash is the workflow set up. Toon Boom has a more traditional workflow approach, so anyone familiar with traditional animation practices will be happy to see X-sheets and model sheets for lip sync.

Some ardent Flash users would suggest that x-sheets are more or less redundant these days, but it all depends on your workflow. A traditional animator typically likes the planning and structure that x-sheets allow…it also makes sure everyone on the production is on the same page and knows what they’re doing.

Brush Variety

Flash’s vector system is second-to-none in terms of its line quality. However, it is not always to everybody’s taste. For folks who like the more sketchy look or want a little more control on brush type, the Toon Boom toolset provides more organic looking brushes, which can create a more traditional feel to the animation work.

The big drawback with Toon Boom’s brushes however, is that the preview brushes are aliased, meaning that you need to export your movie file to see the actual look – this doesn’t happen in Flash, the results are always vector based and smooth. Frankly, this is a little frustrating, and hopes are that this problem will be sorted out in future versions.

Audio and Lip-Sync Capabilities

An animation software would not be complete without lip-sync and audio capabilities, and here Toon Boom has added a new advanced lip-syncing system that can automate your lip-sync based on the audio file. You choose a range of mouth shapes and the system analyses the audio and places the shapes in the timeline to match up with the audio.

Now this my be useful for some folks and situations, particularly on high pressure projects, where you need to get a quick lip sync pass out to show the director, but I’m a little more old-school myself and am always wary of automated solutions, especially for lip sync (they always need tweaking and tidying up to make it look right). But as I say, it is definitely a good tool to have if you need it.

There are ways to automate lip sync in Flash but they require additional third-party plugins and don’t come bundled with the software.

Cameras

Framing your animation is key to telling your story in the right way, and for this reason the camera is ultra important. Toon Boom’s virtual cameras allow for a greater flexibility in the range and framing of your animation than Flash’s more standard cameras permit.

The multi-plane camera is a real boon to any animator’s workflow and lets you be that little bit more creative in your scene planning and layering up of your animation.

Flash doesn’t currently have a multi-plane camera built into the software, but you could work around this by creating your elements in Flash and exporting to something like Adobe After Effects where you’ll have a massive range of tools and multi-planing will be easy. This obviously creates the problem that you are working between 2 different software, but it does get the job done.

Output

Toon Boom has the capability of outputting a project as an FLA file which can be then imported into Flash with all the layers remaining separate. This is a useful way to allow you work between the two software and get the best of both worlds…especially for turning your animation into an interactive web project, or exporting as a Shockwave file (swf).

While this Toon Boom Studio review is not exhaustive, I feel it gives a overall view of the main points of the Toon Boom software, and it’s comparisons with Flash. For more discussion on which is better…read my article here ==> Toon Boom vs Flash

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jason_More
http://EzineArticles.com/?Toon-Boom-Studio-Review—How-Does-It-Compare-To-Flash?&id=5598436

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