By Michael Burns | on April 02, 2009
Company: Digital Video
Pros: Easy to use; layers and camera moves can be animated; timeline-based editing and transitions; SWF and QuickTime animatic export; audio clip and image file-import facility.
Cons: Limited file import and export options compared to competition; limited content-creation and editing tools.
There is a facility for arranging scene elements in layers, to separate characters from a background, for example. You can also import images into the sketch area and crop, move and transform them, though external image support doesn’t include PSD.
You can zoom and pan in the sketch area, with external images scaling to fit the current zoom setting when imported. When you export as an animatic, the current zoom level is used.
The tools for building the animatic add a layer of complexity, but also add value to the package (otherwise you could just put a storyboard together in a graphics or desktop application). Adding camera moves involves a simple process of assigning rectangles over the start and end point in each panel. In a similar fashion you can manipulate and layers, so that different elements move and scale over time at different speeds.
A timeline is also available so that you can edit the duration and order of the animatic in a visual manner and add some simple transitions between scenes. It’s also possible to add several audio tracks, for dialogue, effects and music and edit or split them once in place in the timeline. You can import audio clips, though formats are restricted to WAV and AIFF.
This is meant to be a quick production tool, but it could do with a better set of content-creation tools. On the other hand, Story Planner Pro’s animatic pipeline is straightforward and makes digital storyboarding a simple task. The closest rival is Toon Boom’s Storyboard Pro, which has superior import and export support and more advanced vector-editing tools, but is also more expensive at $899.99 (around £630 currently).