Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Víctor Paredes » Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:20 am

Greenlaw wrote:That said, I wish ASP had a Curve deformer like the one in Harmony--it really is pretty cool. (Hmm. Maybe you can fake it with a motion path? Might have to try that.)
Do you mean something like this?
viewtopic.php?t=17713
Anyway, I would love an "official" implementation of this feature in AS.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by InfoCentral » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:56 pm

Greenlaw wrote:To be clear, I don't really want to criticize either program because 1.) I'm using both fairly regularly these days, and 2.) I think each has its own strengths and weaknesses that can make it more or less suitable for given task than the other. In general, I think ASP is stronger for cut-out animations and Harmony is stronger for FBF, and there's obviously some overlap in features. If you have to make a choice between the two, it should be based on the style of animation you want to do because neither program really 'does it all' perfectly.

For my own personal and professional work in the future, I will probably wind up using both programs on the same productions.

G.
I don't think it is as clear as that otherwise I would just be using ASP. Another MAJOR factor is the software's ability to play alongside other graphic programs. Import and export factors and how well these are implemented. The good thing about ASP is that it includes all the drawing tools you need so you don't need any outside graphic software. The bad thing about ASP is if you are already used to using an outside graphics program or need more powerful features to create your graphics then ASP doesn't play well importing these graphics. Your sort of confined to ASP to produce the best outcome. OTOH, Toon Boom does play very nicely with outside graphic programs as well as containing their own drawing tools like ASP. So you could confine yourself to using these like in ASP but the real power comes from its seamless import/export file handling. ASP does have SVG import but from my experience it distorts my graphics so much as to render them unusable. People have been saying this for years. I only hope that with the next release of ASP they focus on developing just one major vector file format that can seamlessly import/export without any distortion/degradation.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Greenlaw » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:00 pm

selgin wrote:Do you mean something like this?
viewtopic.php?t=17713
Anyway, I would love an "official" implementation of this feature in AS.
Exactly. Why am I not surprised that you've already tried this? :)

G.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by dueyftw » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:17 pm

jahnocli wrote:
dueyftw wrote:"...Anime Studio would have to add a new vector layer that would accept svg format. I don't see ether happening soon."
I don't know if I've got the wrong end of the stick here, but can't Anime Studio already import svg format graphics?
Yes and No. AS converts svg to an AS vector format. The conversion is less than perfect. If AS had a SVG vector layer with besiler curves then I could import and export to other programs with no problems.

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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Greenlaw » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:49 pm

InfoCentral wrote: OTOH, Toon Boom does play very nicely with outside graphic programs...
I don't know about that. Most of the work I've been doing in Harmony uses artwork created in Photoshop, and it seems like it should be simple enough to import. To me, you should just be able to import a layered PSD directly into wherever you need it, layered out the way you want it but for Harmony there are actually many steps involved. Here's what I've been running into: first, you need to you need to place every layer in your PSD into its own Group, and you can't nest anything deeper--if you don't follow this exactly, Harmony will collapse everything regardless of the import option you choose. Oh, and the Harmony drawing layers do not get their names from the imported Photoshop layers, the names come instead from the Groups so you need to rename all your Photoshop Groups to correspond with their single content, otherwise you need to rename all your layers in Harmony. If you've separated your outlines from your fills to take advantage of the multi-layer drawing feature in Harmony, you can't simply import the multi-layer art directly into a drawing--instead you need to import the outline and fill as separate images and then assemble them in each drawing by cut and paste to the drawing layers. If you have different stages of the drawing art, you need to manually cut and paste the artwork to each drawing substition layer. Also, there is no cropping tool--this means if you import the artwork untrimmed from PSD, you wind up with full bounding boxes; if you import the artwork trimmed, then you lose precise placement of the art. I've accepted that that's just how it works in Harmony but it seems overly complicated to me compared to other programs I've used.

BTW, I didn't have nearly the difficultly with importing and cropping multi-layer Photoshop art to ASP on the production we finished a few months ago. ASP simply doesn't care how the layers are grouped or nested--it imports the art the way you set it up in Photoshop, even preserving the hierarchy.

Also, while the drawing tools work very well for elements created directly in Harmony, I'm finding they're not ideal for editing bitmaps created in other programs like Photoshop. That said, ASP doesn't support editing bitmaps at all, so at least Harmony has bit map brushes.

I hate to sound like I'm bashing Harmony--to be fair, I've been critical enough about ASP in other threads--but so far I have not found Harmony to "play very nicely"' with other drawing/paint programs (well, Photoshop anyway.) The program has many strengths and cool features but, in my experience, that hasn't been one of them.

G.

Edit: I need to take back what I said about layered Photoshop art not being trimmed on import in Harmony. Up until a few minutes ago, all my layered artwork was coming in at full frame, which could make the character a little unwieldy after assembly but I just imported layered art for a new character and the elements came in with proper positions and it's optimally trimmed. This is contrary to the other character files I've been importing but I have to confess, I don't what's different about this one. Anyway, I just wanted to amend part of what I wrote above. All the other stuff about grouping, nesting, etc., still stands though.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by InfoCentral » Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:32 am

Greenlaw wrote:I hate to sound like I'm bashing Harmony--to be fair, I've been critical enough about ASP in other threads--but so far I have not found Harmony to "play very nicely"' with other drawing/paint programs (well, Photoshop anyway.)
Try using XARA and importing via PDF.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Lukas » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:34 am

How does ToonBoom Harmony compare to TVPaint for hand drawn animation?

TVPaint is the go-to package in the Netherlands for anything FBF, but many people are looking for alternatives because it's not all that great.

The new monthly subscription might turn the tide though.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Apr 22, 2015 4:36 pm

TVPaint is a different animal because it's dedicated to bitmap drawn animation. (At least back was when I was using it. Keep in mind that my comments about this program may be dated.) TVPaint has a lot of nice natural media tools which allow you to achieve very organic looks and effects. At one time here in the USA it was re-branded here as Aura Video Paint and distributed by NewTek to accompany Lightwave 3D as a visual effects program, then it was sold as Mirage for a while by yet another party. These days it's back to being called TVPaint here in the US, and mainly considered a 2D animation program again. Animating in TVPaint is actually a lot closer to drawing on paper--that could be good or bad, depending on how much you like to edit and alter your drawings.

Like ASP, Harmony is primarily a vector drawing/animation program that can also accept bitmap images from other programs. Harmony has bitmap brushes but, as mentioned above, bitmap painting is not its strength or its preferred method for drawing. Like ASP, Harmony prefers vector drawing for efficient redraw, editing, and interpolation/morphing.

I'm glad you brought up TVPaint. This program represents yet another approach to drawing 2D animations on a computer. I cannot say it's better or worse than Anime Studio or Harmony, it's just another way to create 2D animations on a computer. I think if you're looking for a pure 'hand drawn look' to your animation, TVPaint is a great way to go but you will be giving up the easy edit-ability of vector based programs.

The program I've used for work in recent months that most resembles ASP is After Effects with a third party plugin called DuIK. This plugin allows you to add IK and constraints to layers, dynamics, and a 'set-drive key' tool like ASP's SmartBones. It's useful and actually kinda cool to be able to do this in AE. However, it is definitely not a replacement for ASP--no more than ASP is a replacement for AE. DuIK just adds some tools and workflow to AE that is familiar to ASP users. AE has some drawing and paint tools but it's really not designed for that.

These are personal opinions of course and other users may feel very differently about these programs. FWIW, I try to be 'software agnostic' because I believe every software has its own special uses and place.

Well, I think that pretty much covers all the 2D 'cartoon' animation programs I've used in recent years, at least the ones that are still available. Now back to our regularly scheduled thread. :)

G.
Last edited by Greenlaw on Wed Apr 22, 2015 6:31 pm, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Lukas » Wed Apr 22, 2015 4:46 pm

I understood Harmony also supported bitmap brushes/drawing/FBF-animation now (since 11), not just imported bitmap graphics.

Haven't tried it yet, but I'm very curious.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Greenlaw » Wed Apr 22, 2015 4:52 pm

Lukas wrote:I understood Harmony also supported bitmap brushes/drawing/FBF-animation now (since 11), not just imported bitmap graphics.

Haven't tried it yet, but I'm very curious.
It does (as I mentioned earlier) but it's really not like painting in, say, Photoshop, Painter, or even TVPaint. Harmony's bitmap painting tools a bit more limited than that. You'll see what I meant if you get a chance to use it. But as I also mentioned before, at least it has a bit map brush.

G.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by dueyftw » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:48 pm

The program I've used for work in recent months that most resembles ASP is After Effects with a third party plugin called DuIK. This plugin allows you to add IK and constraints to layers, dynamics, and a 'set-drive key' tool like ASP's SmartBones. It's useful and actually kinda cool to be able to do this in AE. However, it is definitely not a replacement for ASP--no more than ASP is a replacement for AE. DuIK just adds some tools and workflow to AE that is familiar to ASP users. AE has some drawing and paint tools but it's really not designed for that.
In school I went to in NYC last year and they used the DuIK rig to animate. The teacher thought that is was so great because it had IK. I guess if your a flash user you would be impressed. I wasn't. They also had mac's and started teaching basic animation with Photoshop. The mac's would crash all the time with Photoshop. One of the other problems I had with Photoshop was the onion skins would only go a head a few frames. When I needed to have an onion skin 6 frames ahead I was SOL. I'm sill trying to figure out if the one teacher was making sure that the students didn't become skilled enough to become competitors in the NYC job market or that was the way she did things.

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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by Greenlaw » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:34 pm

DuIK actually works much better than I expected, considering the overhead of everything else that is After Effects. I worked on a couple of productions this year using AE with DuIK and it mostly went well. Where it really starts to get cumbersome is when you have a lot of characters in a scene with many dozens of parts each--then it can get a bit unwieldy and slow. I also had to save more iterations of scenes than I normally do because I found it easy to break some of the expressions involved with the rigs, and it was usually easier to regress a scene and reanimate what I lost than to try to find and fix the broken layers and expressions. As far as the quality of the tools that come with DuIK go, I found it easy to learn use and it works as advertised.

Now as I stated earlier, AE+DuIK is certainly not a replacement for ASP--if you do a lot of character animation and you need a lot of flexibility, then IMO it's better to work in ASP. But if you want to animate entirely in AE, then DuIK is an excellent choice. Try animating characters in AE without DuIK and you'll see what I mean. :)

G.

P.S., and I want to stress again, unless there is some restriction to what software you can use on a project, budgetary or otherwise, there's no reason you can't use multiple programs on a project. It doesn't have to be "either this or that". In all of my personal projects, and in much of the work I've done for other studios, I often use multiple animation and compositing programs to get my work done.
Last edited by Greenlaw on Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by jayfaker » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:46 pm

I've used DuIK tools in projects and it is a very nice addition to After Effects. I even contributed on kickstarter for the upcoming new version. It really is a handy tool. And I've seen some amazing people build some crazy amazing character rigs in AE. Some parts of those rigs can do things that ASP can't. And I do like to use AE expressions to do simple code that speeds up very repetitive animation. I sometimes wish layer scripts were just as simple in ASP.

However, I have tried to rig characters in AE, and as cool as those rigs are, it can become very cumbersome once the characters become more complex. And a lot of expressions code can really slow AE down. So after starting to rig in AE I usually get frustrated with how slow the process is and jump into ASP. ASP is super easy to rig in, especially simple characters. The only down-side is then I have to figure out the best way to get it back into AE: separating things into different renders, matching cameras, etc. But usually I'd rather have more fun animating in ASP and worry about comping it later.

Anyway, yeah, it is nice to have multiple tools at the ready. I just wish I had time to learn more of them and money to afford more of them.
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Re: Toon Boom announces new products (and prices!)

Post by dueyftw » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:10 pm

DuIK does work, but if you know AS inside and out, would you use it?
The only down-side is then I have to figure out the best way to get it back into AE: separating things into different renders, matching cameras, etc. But usually I'd rather have more fun animating in ASP and worry about comping it later.
I use AE for effects. I have looked for a replacement, but the closest is fusion(a very buggy crash fest program). In the script website is a 'send camera to AE' Very useful.

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