By Neil Bennett | on October 29, 2007
Company: Digital Anarchy
Pros: Best filter so far for mimicking the look of rotoscoping. High level of control.
Cons: Slow rendering at high quality.
Most large video-effects filters collections – and many NLEs – include filters that claim to turn real-world footage into cartoon. However, every one we’ve seen has been rubbish. ToonIt isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we’ve seen so far.
ToonIt includes four plug-ins: BlackLight Edges, Goth, Outline Edges and Roto Toon. Roto Toon is the core effect that you’d buy this set for, as it brushes lines and fills over your footage for a variety of effects from children’s cartoon to the hybrid look as used by Richard Linklater for Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.
It’s at this second type that the plug-in is most successful, as the effect’s output never loses the obvious look of modified video unless you push it further with AE’s paint tools – though using Roto Toon as the first step in rotoscoping can save you a lot of time over the course of a project.
The two base controls over the look of Roto Toon’s output are flatness and simplicity, which set how much each frame is broken down into vector shapes and flat colour tones. From here the image is ‘cartoonified’ through a series of blurs and other effects such as softness, halftone (for a Pop-art look) and comic (for black outlines).
There’s a lot of control over the strength and types of blurs, but the main one you’ll rely on is between High and Fast quality. Most Roto Toon set-ups will feature at least two blurs, so previewing and rendering at high quality are very slow indeed, even on our eight-core Mac Pro.
Outline Edges and BlackLight Edges create outline cartoons on white and black respectively, while Goth creates Scarface-style silhouettes. They work well but are hardly groundbreaking.
Roto Toon is worth the £145 asking price though, if you’re on a project that requires the ‘Scanner Darkly’ look.
ToonIt offers a wide range of controls over its effects.