Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Aaron go Boom

O.k., made it out to Aaron Simpson's shindig last night at the Mod Club. First off, Mod Club theatre is a real great joint...complete with a stage setup that would make any band in the GTA uncomfortable in the pants region (they've got a freakin' steadicam setup for filming the crowd, fer corn's sake!) Great bar and staff...kinda knew the club kid's weren't linin' up down the block for nothin'. I can't say nuthin' about what Aaron's fave venue of the three (New York, L.A. and T'rawna) was, but, y'know...if he does another event here, I've got an idea where it'll be.

Now, everybody knows Aaron as a big proponent of Flash and interwebs animation, so to see him shillin' (and come on now, shillin' he was) for Toon Boom was a bit odd. Then he starting demoing the software, and I can kinda see why he's a convert. Aaron's like Jerry Beck...he don't back no junk, and if'n he tells you he likes sumthin', there's a damn good reason. He grabbed some characters and layouts from an ol' wartime toon and showed off some of what the new soft can do, and it can do a lot. Some highlites:

Animation Disk: Now why in the name of sweet Georgia Brown hasn't anybody done this before? If you need to get a better angle on your drawing, hold down a key to bring up a superimposed old school animation disc. You can now rotate the entire stage area!

I.K. support- for the uninitiated, this means you can link images, like a hand, a forearm and a bicep, and the whole chain will move and pivot by just moving the hand.

Auto VoiceSyncing- draw and set up your mouth poses, import your v.o. audio, and the software will analyze the wave and place mouth poses automatically. How well it does it, I have yet to see, but it looked darned impressive.

Multiplane and 3d orbital Camera- You can actually set up a camera view as a layer element that will allow you to multiplane your layers...move and animate the camera, and everything in the camera view moves in relation. Nice!

He also profiled a bunch of other smaller features like custom palletes with global color settings, drag n' drop library element setup, and cleanup brushes. The guys at Toon Boom really seem to have gotten their act together from a UI standpoint...the software seems to be a helluvalot easier to learn and use than previous iterations like Studio.

They capped off the night by giving away two free full commercial licenses and handing out full versions of the software to one and all...o.k., sort of...these were the '30 days free' versions, but the boxes include all the tutorials and documentation. By the way, that documentation...a mere shadow of the massive tome you had to leaf through for Studio. As I said, they've really made an effort to making the software streamlined and accessible.

Unfortunately, there's still the price issue. Don't get me wrong, you get a lot of bang for your buck, but at a thousand bucks a license, that's a lotta bucking for an indie to take...might just buck him right over to the Flash camp. To be fair, though, they do show promos all the time, and anybody who took home a 30 days version last night can buy the full version within that time period for half-price.

I'll have a full report for ya just as soon as I get it installed and figure out a lil' test project to kick the wheels and rev the engine, so to speak. I'll keep you posted with my findings, and I'll have a final verdict in the next few weeks. Either way, big ups to Toon Boom and Aaron for the free drinks and the demo!

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