I’m a game designer, and I currently use Toon Boom Studio 8.1. I’m relatively satisfied with it, though I’m thinking of upgrading. Looks like Harmony is the way to go nowadays, but I’d like some help deciding which version. I’ve read the comparison chart on this website, but I still have some questions.
My animation style is cartoony and intricate (see main image here for an idea: http://www.volnaiskra.com/ ). I primarily use raster images from Photoshop, though I may also use Illustrator vectors (but only if all main features such as gradient maps can be imported). Some of my characters are soft and squishy, so hard bone movements aren’t enough: I need the ability to deform raster images with subtlety.
I suppose I’m mainly tossing up between Advanced and Premium, though Premium is very expensive for me - I’m a solo indie game developer. OK, here are some questions I have:
Is the interface much different between Advanced and Premium, in terms of simplicity/complexity? And how alien will they be for a Toon Boom Studio user?
What is the node view?
What are curve/envelope deformers - will I need that for my soft and squishy raster animations?
Apparently only “Premium” has a particle system. Really? Even Toon Boom Studio has a particle system. Does “Advanced” at least have a basic version like that?
The performance of Toon Boom Studio is pretty mediocre. I have a fairly beastly PC (i7-4770k overclocked, two GTX Titans, SSDs, and 32GB RAM, Windows7-64), yet the software quickly gets sluggish, even with only moderately complex animations. Will I experience a big performance benefit with Harmony? Does it use multiple CPU cores? SLI? CUDA?
What is OpenFX? Do I want it?
Toon Boom Studio’s .PSD and .AI importing functionality is limited. For instance, it doesn’t honour a PSD’s layer groups, layer names, or layer styles. Importing a PSD requires a lot of manual busywork after the import. Is Harmony much better in this regard?
Thanks in advance for any answers!
That’s an excellent response, o0Ampy0o. Thank you. I guess I need to bite the bullet and get Premium.
Can you recommend a good tutorial/online course to help a newbie get up to speed with the software?
I can recommend a bunch for the previous versions of Harmony (11 and earlier) but the latest just came out and it has many changes that I have no way to access. So far the only material available for Harmony 12 is what has been assembled by Toon Boom here: https://www.toonboom.com/resources/video-tutorials/harmony-12-premium
I have Animate Pro 3 and it shares many things with Harmony 11 and earlier. What they shared worked the same way in both. Consequently I was able to gain from reading and viewing tutorials of both. The latest incarnation of Harmony has changed so much many things no longer apply.
My computer is incapable of handling Harmony 12 so I cannot upgrade or try the trial. I am in the process of building a Hackintosh. So I currently have no way to see what may have changed or stayed the same.
I would begin with those tutorials and download the User Guide or read it online. If you watch the material from earlier versions you will run into some problems when the differences become obstacles.
User Manual Download PDF:
By the way try going to the Buy Animate Pro section (link below) and select Upgrade for Animate Pro 3 from TB Studio. See what price it is. The price to upgrade to Premium from Animate Pro 3 is $499. This path in two steps may be more economical for you than upgrading to Harmony Premium in one step directly from Studio to Harmony Premium. I came up with $949 to get from Studio to Animate Pro 3 so with the $499 it would be $1448 instead of $1746 if your figures match mine. But you need to see what you get because everything is triggered by what you already have. All possibilities are not shown to everyone.
Buy Animate Pro page:
ok, thanks. I’ve looked through a couple of those official videos, and they seem good enough. I’ll also look at the documentation.
One final question: If I buy a rental license, can I use it on 2 computers (not at the same time)? I need to be able to work on-the-go from my laptop sometimes.
According to the current Harmony FAQ you can move subscriptions to other computers. The details are not provided anywhere. I think they come after you subscribe. But I am only going by other things I have read about appearing after the transaction. You could/should also contact Sales in advance.
Regarding the way Toon Boom software has been handled generally:
“You can install Toon Boom software on more than one machine, however it can only be activated on one machine at a time. If you need to run our Professional products on a different computer, you must first deactivate the license on the current computer, then reactivate the license on the new computer.”
Either invest in Animate Pro 3 aware that it is going to be discontinued and only supported into 2016 or get Premium, emphasis on Premium. Expensive from where you are coming from but that is really the one for you. You would benefit from Premium’s curve and envelop deformers for the squishy movement. Any particle system under Premium was not comparable. It is a different league in Harmony (11+) level. OpenFX is beneficial because it opens Harmony up to contributions from other plug-in vendors. Studio has never been a performance optimized experience. Your hardware is more than Harmony Premium will be able to utilize. It does not benefit from overclocked CPU’s. Dual GPU’s (SLI) would not be utilized either. Multiple cores would mainly boost rendering speed but not the art & animation creation experience. That is reliant on the video card. Animate and above handles PSD files much more to your satisfaction.
Great. Thanks for all your help.
volnaiskra did you upgrade?
Yes. I ended up getting Harmony 12 Premium.
I ended up working differently to how I expected to. I realised how crucial vectors are to Harmony, so I decided against using PSDs. Importing from an Illustrator file didn’t work satisfactorily at all, so I ended up redoing my character in Harmony, which is fine, and helped me learn the program.
Overall, I’m very happy with Premium. The node view is excellent, and animating is a pleasure. The envelope deformer is just what I needed, though I find that if you’re not very careful, it distorts textures and gradients more than seems reasonable.
I subscribed to some Pluralsight Harmony 12 tutorials, which helped a lot.
The license-activation system is a pain in the butt though. I have to go through a whole process just to switch between desktop and laptop. And one time the license manager totally broke, locking me out of both computers. It took me a couple of (wasted) days to get support to help me get it working again. I’m kinda too scared to try using my laptop again, in case it happens again.
My other annoyance is that it crashes a fair bit - mainly while using the colour wheel.
Apart from those two grievances (and some minor ones, like tooltips on tools and buttons not displaying keyboard shortcuts), I’m very happy with Harmony Premium 12. It’s great software that is mostly a joy to use. Definitely streets ahead of Toon Boom Studio, and more in a league with things like After Effects (and in some ways - eg. the Node View, the flexible vector tools - much better even than After Effects)
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Hey! is envelope deformer avaliable for games rig?
i saw a tutorial some years ago, saying that curve and envelope deformer wouldn’t work with game rig.