Audio Visual Synch All Wrong (Still).

Last night I rediscovered that my ToonBoom Studio 6.0 animation software is definitely fatally flawed and I am pretty unhappy with this as it has actually curtailed my artistic development for six months. Six months of my life in which I would have been improving as an animator. I blame ToonBoom for this, as after I had been stymied by the problem for quite a while, and trawled through the troubleshooting process, their answer was to set up an online conference during which someone had access to my computer for an afternoon to fix it. It didn’t fix it.

The whole experience put me off animating. Because the process of animating is so horribly lengthy, it is painful to put all that work in only to discover that the audio track consistently fails to correspond with the visual track. More advanced versions of this animation software are priced in a way that for me is financially prohibitive, and I have no way of knowing whether they would be the answer to this problem anyway. Or no easy way at least.

Having been very disheartened, it took me a long time to feel encouraged enough to try another animation. I did yesterday. It failed again.

My computer has an i7 processor and an Nvidia GTX 460 graphics card. The hard drive is not quite as fast as the processor and card, but not to an extent I think that would inhibit this process so radically i.e. the Windows stats say that the processor and card have an operating capacity of 7.0 and (annoyingly) the HDD one of 5.9.

To clarify - the process goes like this-

I import my images from Photoshop, and my soundtrack in the form of a Wav file (created on Audacity).

I layer the images so that I have a background on one timeline, adding further images on “transparencies” over the background. But, I might add this same flaw has occurred when I have done all the layer work already on Photoshop and only used one single timeline. It has also happened when using an mp3 soundtrack.

First off, when I load a wav file of 4 minutes 49 seconds, Toonboom refuses it, until I have edited it down to 3 minutes. This may be the normal limit of Studio 6 and is not the main point of this article.

Then let’s say at around halfway through the timeline I add three layers which are positioned in such a way they mark the appearance of three objects, each one appearing at the same time as a musical note is struck on the audio track.

I will then move the cursor to a few seconds before this event and play that short sequence to check that the audio and visual events are synchronized.

It looks like it works fine. I carry on with the process. Later I go back and play the project from the beginning, only to find that now the three objects are appearing before the three notes are struck - not at the same time as the plays from a few seconds before the event had appeared to do.

I go back to the area in which the sequence occurs and adjust the position of where the objects appear. But each time I play it from a few seconds before, though it looks and sounds synchronised, when I play it from the beginning again it still isn’t. So this initiates a process of having to edit the objects and events of the whole video by guesswork and watching the check plays from the beginning. Every time! That’s the equivalent of watching the whole piece say 5 times to get one event nearly right.

When I am finally satisfied the events are all reasonably synched (note, I have already now settled for “reasonably” to compromise with what has become an horrifically laborious additional workload) I composite/process the piece to an avi file on default setting. It takes over an hour.

The result. The objects are out of synch with the audio.

This was a problem with Toonboom Studio 6 from when I got it. And it remains so after someone from ToonBoom came onto my computer in an online troubleshooting session that took an afternoon and said that he had installed a new version after not seeming to identify the problem. The problem remains and this is seriously damaging my development as an animator.

Anyone wishing to see the fault I refer to illustrated - at 1.42 in the Vimeo post here https://vimeo.com/47683888 - the coloured shapes were originally timed to appear in time with the three musical notes.

TBS V6 can import audio files larger than 3 minute long. If you are having trouble then someone from the Tech. Support department needs to have a look. If you are not happy with the results of your previous experience with support then you should send a follow-up email to support@toonboom.com and provide the support ticket number issued for the case along with the reason(s) why you are unhappy with the results of their activity. Unhappy (and happy) customer feedback is taken very seriously by the company.

MP3 is a compressed format and is far from ideal where accurate sound synch is an issue. It’s better to use .WAV or .AIF(F). Note also that bitmap images require more memory to process than vector-based imagery. Note also that TBS is a 32-bit program and as such is subject to the memory limit of 1.7 GB memory allocation per program.

For the out-of-synch audio, please let support know where you experienced this, played back through the software or in some type of movie player? Please be ready to provide the project and the original audio recording that was imported.

Apologies that my post apparently was so dense it was difficult to read.

Yesterday I had an email exchange with support only to learn the following:

"Playing back the movie in the software will NOT give you proper
synch because the first run-through the elements are being
recorded to memory. Subsequent playbacks (looping) may
get close to real-time playback depending on the resources
of your system. It’s best to actually render the project out to
a movie file."

This is simply not satisfactory in any way. I don’t understand how a working process can be supported by such a clumsy system. To not be sure whether the audio elements and visual elements are synchronised while creating a cartoon (a medium that almost by definition revolves around the synchronization of audio and visual elements!) seems bordering on insanity to me. And has certainly been encouraging insanity in me also due to the amount of projects this failure in the technical capacities of the software has destroyed or undermined.

I also don’t understand why no-one else seems to think this is an issue. Am I missing something? If I am it certainly hasn’t been explained to me by anyone at Toon Boom.

In addition to this, I might as well add here that every time I visit this forum I have had to re-enter my customization of my forum profile - only to find the next time I return, all the changes I have made have disappeared again. This has happened upwards of ten times.

As time has gone on with Toon Boom my relationship with it is becoming more and more bitter - and I don’t understand how such a poor software and unhelpful support has won all these awards that keep getting mentioned and how it seems to top the list of animation software in internet reviews.

Can anyone recommend a software that I could use where I can view playback while working on a project that accurately reflects what will be there when the project is rendered? Because Studio 6 has been a total disaster for me.

Perhaps you are not understanding that this is a limitation of the available resources on your computer when using a 32-bit animation software. On shorter scenes there should be no issues with synching unless you are using an MP3 (compressed audio format) file.

Thanks for your post. Regarding your suggestion: no - I do not think it is my computer’s resources that are the problem. It’s high spec. I have also stated that mp3 format was not used. Also bear in mind, a Toon Boom technician had access to my computer for an entire afternoon and could not see any reason for the problem which was why they installed another version of the same software. If what you have suggested was the problem surely they would have spotted it - and the specs of my computer were discussed so surely it would have come up then?

I am currently looking for another software that will work - so if anyone has any suggestions?

Have you downloaded the 7.0 patch (software should say V7.1 after installing)?
If so, then send my your audio file for analysis to support@toonboom.com; in the email title call it “TBS Forum sound synch issue”.