Video Editing is really not much different with animation than it is with live action. The tools are pretty much the same. Rendering can be a little different. However, there is not really an animation only editing program that I am aware of. Anime Studio does have the capability to edit to some extent. However, it seems to work better to render short segments or “takes” then put them together in a video editing program. Otherwise rendering can take a very long time. One sample render I did took a day and half. Yikes. It is very important to always save before rendering. This can prevent you losing all your work if your computer happens to crash while you are rendering.
I have worked with a few different video software programs before, like
I had problems with Magix crashing. Adobe elements 9 had some weird pixelation issues on the display panel. Where ever I moved the cursor, it pixelated. It only did it in the timeline view. I suspect it was because elements 9 was a 32 bit program. Once I received the Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 10 it worked very well. I think because it is a 64 bit program, it was able to use all the memory I have installed. Which solved a lot of the memory problems I was having.
I went ahead and purchased the combo pack of Photoshop and Premiere Elements. My thinking was adding Photoshop was only 40.00 more than buying the separate video editing program. It may be nice to have Photoshop so I can do some touch up work on the animation if needed.
I have narrowed my search to two animation programs. One is Toon Boom and the other is Anime Studio.
Toon Boom- has different packages for different levels. From kid’s software up to professional. I counted 14 different product levels on their website, which can be pretty overwhelming. It seems that Toon Boom is more like traditional frame by frame animation. Which is good if you know how to draw, but it may prove difficult for someone like me where drawing is not one of my strengths. Toon boom is used in many TV cartoons, but I am not sure which product level was used.
Anime Studio- has two different product levels. One is the Debut and one is the pro version. The drawing tools are vector based, which I think may be more suited to my lack of drawing talent. Amazon has Anime Studio Pro 6 for less than 30.00. Version 6 is an older version of this software, as they have version 8 available now. However I can get the full pro version 6 for less than the scaled back Anime Studio Debut 8. So for less than 30.00 I can give the software a whirl. Now the Anime Studio Pro 8 does have a lot of newer features like simulated physics, patch layers, automatic image tracing and a character wizard, all features that Anime Studio Pro 6 does not have. However, it will let me get a feel for the program without the greater expense. I can always purchase the newer version later if needed.
I wanted to use open source [free] software when ever possible. I am really excited to find Celtx. Celtx is an all around software to handle the pre-production of media projects. They have project templates for Film, Audio-Visual, Theatre, Audio Play, Storyboard, Comic Book and Novel.
I will be using the Storyboard template as well as maybe the Film template to put this all together. I will be able to write the script and storyboard the scenes, develop characters.
I really like the storboard template. You can work out the camera directions and also play the storyboard back like a movie when you are done.
Below is a screenshot
They also have a sketch feature so you can work out your camera moves or stage direction.
This is going to be very helpful, and best of all it is free. I really love open source programs, especially ones like this that have been developed to this extent.
Ktoon seems to be mainly for Linux. I went to their website which seems to be mostly in Spanish you can click the English tab, however it seems several languages were mixed together, which made reading the website hard. I went to the user video example gallery and there was 1 video posted. Now if the software was easy to use, you would think there would be a large number of videos from users, since after all it is free. I also searched youtube for examples and I did find a few, mostly stick men type animations. I did not find very many tutorials either, so I will pass on this one.
Synfig looks promising, however doing research I notice that it does not handle sound. Now for music and such that should not be a problem, however for lip-sync I would think it would raise a lot of problems. How can you animate the lip-sync without being able to work with it in the animation program? Synfig had much more examples, both on youtube and on the main website.
Below is a Synfig eye animation, I think it looks very good. However, not having audio in the program makes me Leary.
Pencil seems to have a pretty good following. However, pencil is a frame by frame animation software. I was hoping to use the power of the computer to do the in between frames. So I will keep looking.
Finding the right software seems to me is probably one of the most important aspects of this project. After all it is a tool that will be used day in and day out to produce the cartoon. Most likely there will be several types of software. One for animation, maybe one for audio [if not included with the animation software] Then there is video editing software, maybe special effects software. Perhaps even some software to keep me organized, as you do not want to spend a week animating something only to realize at the end that you animated yourself into a corner and the week was wasted.
I like the idea of using open source or free software. However, I worry that they may not have the features I need, or may be hard to learn with little documentation.
I am leaning toward 2d animation, as 3d seems like it would be harder to learn. I understand the concept of 2d animation better as it is what I have watched most my life. I still remember when I first saw Toy story, how I stood in awe of what I was seeing. Being able to reproduce that effect would be awesome, but I have also seen homemade 3d animation and the medium seems to be less forgiving than 2d.
Ktoon, synfig and pencil are 3 open source 2d programs. I will check these out and give my impressions of them soon.