is Toon Boom Studio Express Really Such a Bang For the Buck!?

Ok, hi all. I am an aspiring animator who lately has been doing a bit of stop-motion animation in the way of LEGOs and miscellaneous action figures. I really like stop-motion animation but there are not that many good resources on stop-motion animation and it is not as common a means of animation as 2D Cel Animation. Also I am noticing it is a bit uncomfartable and tedious getting to move the puppet exactly as you want. Of course I will keep experimenting with stop-motion animation for now as it is pretty much a hands on type of thing that requires alot of patience and a good feel for timing which is basically what animation is really about anyway and the only way to learn as I’m beginning to realize is through trial and error. Looking through one of the general books on different types of animation I managed to come across a chapter on Vector Animation. I read a number of things which caught my eye, and frankly, really are starting to turn me on to the possibility of me purchasing Toon Boom Studio…most likely the Express version as it seems much more affordable at the $69.95 price range as opposed to the full version of Toon Boom Studio which costs 300+ dollars. Basically the author of “The Complete Animation course”, Chris Patmore, states and I quote; “For short 2D animations, Toon Boom Studio is as good a tool as you will find anywhere and very affordable. With this program, a laptop, and a small Wacom tablet, you have a complete portable animation studio capable of producing top-quality cartoons.” Also I hear that these so called “vector images” that are created in programs such as Toon Boom Studio produce very small file sizes, which can’t be a bad thing at all. In terms of ease of use however, I would like to hear some peoples opinions about the quality of Toon Boom Studio Express. I mean did it beat your expectations in terms of what the program could do or did you find it lacking something special that could have been included. I am definitely gonna try out that trial version soon. I tried downloading a sample quicktime movie clip made in Toon Boom Studio Express but unfortunately I had trouble unzipping the file and was unable to watch it. Is there a place where I can download sample movies made in Toon Boom Studio Express so I can get a better idea of the quality of this program.

Looking at the basic feature comparison of Express and the real Toon Boom Studio I noticed some features lacking in Express that would be nice to have. However I really could do without them if it means pelting out 200 extra cash dollars. Well for starters lets see…Express…Pegs-2, Cameras-1, Scenes-1, Frames- 1,000, Advanced Lip Sync- No, Scanning- No…and Toon Boom Studio…, Pegs- unlimited, Cameras- unlimited, Scenes- unlimited, Frames-unlimited, Advanced Lip Sync- Yes, Scanning- Yes. I haven’t even begun animating here and already I can see the Express version is definitely lacking something. Only a 1000 frames huh?..wouldn’t that mean say I were animating at 15 fps that I would only manage to make a movie at max. length just over a minute, not even that. If thats true, then thats pretty limited if I don’t say so myself. Also one scene don’t sound too much like a feature length animated film either. Scanning I guess I could do without as I was really planning on buying this program so I could animate with a graphics tablet instead…but what about Lip Sync? This is a cool feature, that I definitely would like to have, but might it be cheaper and easier to just buy the express version of Toon Boom, and then do Lip Sync with a program specifically designed for such things like MagPie? Thanks in advance for your replies.

P.S.- I forgot to add my sound inquiries in there. I read somewhere that you can import .WAV files and .AIFF files in addition to being able to do the regular animation stuff. This is perfect because the real reason I got into animation in the first place is so I could make animated music videos which I’ve already made an excursion into by making stop-motion animated music videos with my trusty Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000 webcamera. I managed to make a pretty basic music video by putting together the animation in some freeware framegrabber programs I found on the internet particularly “MonkeyJam” and “Anasazi Stop Motion Animator”. I then imported the .AVI video clips I made into a program called Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator which came bundled for free with my webcamera. Adding transitions, audio, and effects in this program was pretty simple although rather limiting as transitions and effects were pre-configured and could only be picked and chose, then added to the movie. In the end the basic goal which I had sought out to do, was attained; and that was, to make a stop-motion video and add the music that I recorded and sequenced from scratch as a backdrop. Now however, I do find myself getting a bit more serious about the possibilities of animation in general, and look foward to possibly adding coherent stories with dialogue and sound effects to my animation. Particularly interesting to me at the moment though is syncing visual animation with the beat of music. I hear that this can be done by doing a lil math by taking the tempo of the tune for example: 120bpm / 60 = 2 beats per second, and dividing the fps by this figure: 25 fps / 2 bps = 12.5 frames per beat, e.g. frames 1 and 13 or 14 or 15 fps / 2 bps = 7.5 frames per beat, e.g. frames 1 and 8 or 9. I hope this makes sense to somebody out there, as I was interested to know how well Toon Boom Studio Express can handle something as complex as syncing sound and visual elements. If not, it is pretty much a moot point and I’d definitely be far more interested to know more about the general capabilities of Toon Boom Studio Express. Once again thanks in advance for your replies and have a great day!

HowdyTB Express is OK to learn on but if you want to get serious buy the bigger version. Two pegs is not enough for me because TB’s non-linear animation system can be very powerful if you’ve got enough pegs. Lip synch is very usefu tool. The 1000 frame limit is not necessarily such a limitation as you can export your movies as single shots and edit them together with some other product, but TB Studio has the scene manager which means your project can contain all the scenes in your movie, which makes my life a lot easier. I have been using TB for broadcast animation for a kids TV show for a couple of years now and it does the job pretty well.CheersKengo

I have been using TB for broadcast animation for a kids TV show for a couple of years now and it does the job pretty well.Hey Kengo,…do you have any samples of your work? Any links or can you tell me what the name of the program is? I would love to see TB in action as the gallery has not impressed me. I’ve been hoping someone has done something with TBS that is willing to show it. Todd

I don’t know about stop motion but I’ve found that TBS, not the Express, is much more oriented on real production. Express if fine for super small projects but I would think that stop motion would get pretty large real fast.I considered the Express version for quite a while but bought the full version and I’m happy that I did. Being able to choose fps, multiple pegs and multiple scenes really help.I LOVE the Legos stuff. I just wish I had the patience to set it up. :)If you do buy it and figure out the vectorization - which isn’t TBS’ fault, I just can’t figure it out - let me know. I’m just not getting the picture…all puns intended.

Thanks for all the replies people. This forum is getting on my nerves though cause the font is like size 2 or something on my monitor. I wish there was a way to make the font size bigger or maybe change some kind of resolution on my monitor that way I don’t have to keep copy and pasting all you peoples replies into a word document in order to visibly see all the replies. Anyway, I did a lil further research on Toon Boom Studio and ironically I can’t seem to find a single book out there written specifically about this program. I find that kinda funny too, considering they do alot of that Rugrats and Warner Bros. animation from this program supposedly. I was hoping someone here could refer me to a good book or possibly an internet resource where I can learn more about this program and possibly see some animation results in action. I did find that Toon Boom Studio is constantly compared to its cousin Flash, which I managed to find tons of great books on in the library. Toon Boom though, from what I read is supposedly a lil more geared toward cartooning and animation, than Flash which I’m guessing might be a better option in my position. Oh…also, I was wondering if someone could point me out to a good graphics tablet had I were to buy Toon Boom Studio and go the distance. I noticed this Graphire 3 (4X5) USB graphics tablet selling for $55 dollars with Toon Boom Studio. Sounds like a good buy, but is there a better one for less? Of course I want the thing to be functional and easy to use and most importantly be able to work well with Toon Boom. Thanks in advance for your replies.P.S.- I know that Toon Boom Studio is for 2D animation and not Stop-Motion animation. I simply wanted to give people an idea of my background in terms of how capable I am with animation.

Spacey,Go with the Graphire 3!!! You will not regret it. It requires VERY LITTLE effort on your part to install the driver and setthe parameters (if at all) and from that point on,…it’s truly painless and totally reliable!