Price: 239 . 99
Company: Toon Boom Animation
Pros: Auto lip-syncing, drawing in 3D scene planning view, and colour transformation effects add to an already well-designed package.
Cons: Some inconsistency with interface conventions and a slightly clunky display for 3D and orthographic views.
Digitized 2D cell animation is a tricky thing to get right. The toolset required seems similar to those in any other drawing application, but in reality they need to be a lot more specialized. Toon Boom Studio 2.5 offers a decent and robust toolset together with a clearly set-out workflow for 2D animation.
Version 2.5 adds to the feature set with impressive automatic lip-syncing, gap-closing, and colour keyframing. There’s a new clipping feature for adding masks to drawings. These can then be animated, and soundtracks can now be scrubbed directly from the timeline.
Good support for graphics tablets is essential, and version 2.5 adds pressure sensitivity support for line thickness with Wacom graphics tablets. The update at last adds eraser support for Wacom pens too. There was an issue with the Intuos 3 Wacom tablet – there was occasionally an offset of the stroke compared to the cursor position when you began drawing. We couldn’t duplicate this effect in any other program using the tablet so there may be an issue between the latest Wacom driver and Toon Boom.
One minor, but irritating interface issue was the inconsistent menu conventions when you switch functions on and off.
In the Window menu you get ‘Show Function Editor’ which changes to ‘Hide Function Editor’. In other menus, you get a check mark instead. It’s a minor complaint, but causes brief confusion when you start with the application, and it’s a mistake that shouldn’t find its way into a commercial program.
However, overall Toon Boom 2.5 offers a clean and clear workflow for professional 2D animation production. The integration of the two modes of operation – Drawing and 3D Scene Planning – have been further tightened by offering touch-up drawing to be accomplished in Scene Planning mode. This is a fantastic feature because it allows you to see what needs to be fixed right in the scene as it’s playing, rather than performing the guess work involved when having to do touch-ups back in the drawing mode.
While there isn’t a massive number of new features, those added are significant and will have a great impact on the workflow of current users. While in essence it’s still a relatively simple and straightforward program Toon Boom Studio 2.5 represents a focused and well-crafted environment for traditional 2D animation.