USAnimation developer Toon Boom has made the OS X public beta of its forthcoming Toon Boom Studio suite for creating Web animations in SWF format available for download from the application’s Web site. The Windows version is still unavailable, although both were supposed to be made available weeks ago. TB Studio is designed to apply some of the 2D cel animation creation techniques from the film/broadcast-level USAnimation to Flash-based animation. However, it’s nowhere near as complicated as USAnimation, relying on the same skillset as Macromedia’s package. For example, the suite supports a digital pen and tablet for more control over animations. There are also onion skinning and light table features, which makes it easier to rough-out and draw characters in final positions, according to Toon Boom. The suite includes a 3D scene-planning feature, which allows users to lay out 2D drawings in 3D space. This simplifies the creation of depth and perspective, as well as allowing users to move elements in the 3D space. Multiple cameras are also possible using this feature, as is applying changes throughout an entire layer, so each element doesn’t need to be re-tweened. Another feature that’s very much in the USAnimation mould is the ink and paint functions, which include a colour management system for the palette. If a user changes a colour in a palette then all uses of that colour are automatically updated. The suite also includes a very powerful lip synchronization tool that analyzes a dialogue track and automatically works out lip positions for users, which could save a huge amount of time on such projects. This audio tool is complemented by a sound editor that includes trimming tools and a frame synching tool. Scenes created in TB Studio can be exported as individual drawings, single animation sequences or as a full scene in SWF format. Movies can also be exported as QuickTime. Import formats include SWF, Illustrator, Jpeg, Gif, Windows Bitmap and Targa – as well as WAV, AIFF and MP3 sound. TB Studio costs $299.40 if ordered on or before June 17 from the application’s Web site, 40 per cent off the regular price of $499. UK distribution is in negotiation, with UK pricing to follow.