Price: 125 . 80
Pros: Powerful; affordable; supports 3D elements; bundled library of assets; lip-synching.
Cons: Studio 6 Debut edition ($49.99/about £31) offers many of the same features for a fraction of the price.
Anime Studio Pro boasts a wealth of other features to make animation creation easier, including a tool that allows you to create special effects layers that simulate smoke, water or insects. Scripts are easy to add to your project and offer some useful customization options.
Studio Pro 6 uses an audio waveform amplitude algorithm to calculate and automatically animate lip-synching for your characters. This generally works effectively, and takes much of the menial work out of creating the illusion of living characters.
Despite the built-in drawing tools are usable, many digital artists will prefer to import their assets from other programs. Thankfully Anime Studio Pro 6 allows easy import of the most common formats including PSD, AI, JPEG, OBJ (for 3D elements), and existing movies. You need to save your Illustrator artwork down to version 8, which limits some of the effects you can use, but this is a small price to pay for the ability to bring in complex artwork.
There’s also a new motion-tracking feature that allows you to glue an object to a motion-tracked point in imported video. This feature doesn’t offer the same sophistication as Apple’s Motion or Adobe’s After Effects, but it seems to work well when you choose a tracking point with a reasonable amount of contrast. There are no limits to the number of points you can track, which is a bonus.
With support for 3D objects, Anime Studio Pro has opened the door to a broader range of animation options. Although 3D objects are supported natively, don’t expect to be able to adjust them in Studio Pro – you’ll need to use your existing 3D software to create and modify your models.
This does give you a useful outlet for your Daz Poser models, however, and making use of 3D models exclusively allows you to create an entirely different style of animation to the usual 2D drawn look. Camera controls make it a breeze to track, zoom, pan and tilt, and there are even a couple of camera scripts to simulate a hand-held camera or do an automatic orbit around your scene.
Anime Studio Pro has been built to allow easy export to a number of formats. As well as the usual QuickTime and JPEG animation profiles, Smith Micro has built-in SWF export, which is ideal for users who deliver their content with Flash Player. Also, there’s a function that lets you upload your exported movie directly to YouTube, although if this isn’t your video-sharing site of choice you’ll need to go down the old-fashioned manual route.
Overall Anime Studio Pro 6 offers a full suite of animation tools allowing new users and old alike to quickly create compelling animations. Don’t be put off by the ‘Anime’ bit of the title; this is capable of creating every style of cartoon animation and it does it with aplomb.
The pricing of the software is very fair when compared with competing products, and offers a genuine low-cost entry to professional animation results. The drawing tools take a little getting used to, but this is a fully featured piece of software that is complex but manageable, and is thoroughly worth the money.