flip boom cartoon reviewThe Toon Boom company is synonymous with animation software, with their flagship Harmony and Animate products being used by the big Hollywood studios and freelancers worldwide.

Trouble is, these softwares can be a challenge to learn for even the most accomplished animator…which meant that for a while there was a large gap in the market for easy to use animation software for young children.

Enter Flip Boom Cartoon…

This is designed specifically for young children of a few years of age and upwards to help them learn the basics of animation in a fun environment that is not going to bore the pants off them.

But is it any good? Read our review below to find out more…

What Age Group Is It For?

The Flip Boom Cartoon software is aimed particularly at children between 6 and 12 years of age, most of whom will be complete beginners to the craft of animation. It’s goal is to provide the easiest way to introduce children to animation in a way that they can build on later with more advanced techniques and softwares.

Interface

Flip Boom Cartoon has a clearly laid out and easy to navigate interface which makes it easy for your child to get started with their animation.

It makes full use of the screen size which helps focus and concentration.

On the whole the interface follows the same design pattern of almost all of the more advanced professional animation softwares…so it gives your child a good introduction without the clutter.

Is It Easy To Use?

Flip Boom Cartoon is very easy to use, and you can get started with your first drawing straightaway.

By using the “onion skin” feature, your child can trace their previous drawings and make small changes with each one to create movement…press Play and they have their first animation.

The software also comes with a library of clip art and templates to give your child ideas for their cartoons along with some sounds that can be added to the animations directly inside the program…no need to export a movie and add it on in a 3rd party program like you have to do in Animation-ish.

You can also record sound directly into the software as a voice-over or dialogue for your characters which is really handy and saves the need of using another program. You can’t unfortunately import other mp3 sounds though…you need to record everything within the program itself. Toon Boom’s Flip Boom All-Star program allows this function.

There are also a variety of export options so your child can share their first cartoons with friends and family. This is made very easy by the “upload to FaceBook and YouTube” options within the software itself.

Drawbacks

Probably the biggest drawback with the Flip Boom Cartoon software is that you can’t import other images to use in the program. The only way to have backgrounds is to create them directly in the program itself or use some of the templates provided. The same goes for sounds as mentioned above.

Older or more experienced children may want to use more advanced features that can be found in the Flip Boom All Star package.

Verdict

Flip Boom Cartoon is a great little animation software for kids that will have them up and making their first cartoons in no time.

The learning curve is very easy and since it is pretty much a scaled-down version of Toon Boom’s other high-end software it is a great introduction for your child that they can easily build on in future if they want to pursue animation further and upgrade to more advanced software.

At $39 it is a reasonably priced software, especially since most video games these days cost a lot more than that and provide a lot less educational value.

 

The professional version of Anime Studio is well known to professional and hobby animators for its high end state-of-the-art tools and production level quality.

However, the Debut version is a little less well-known but marketed as a suitable animation software for hobbyists and youngsters and those looking to learn the basics.

But is this true? Is it really any good for teens or just too complicated to get their teeth into? Let’s find out in this review…

Visual Interface

The visual interface (GUI) is very well laid out with all the main tools in clear sight. No need to trawl through lengthy menus to find what you’re looking for.

In many ways it is a simplified version of their Pro interface, but still close enough to make the transition fairly smooth should you choose to upgrade later.

However, if this is the first time you open any kind of animation software, it could still seem daunting at first, especially when compared to kids software like Flip Boom All Star and Animation-ish. Thankfully, the software comes with a plethora of tutorials and how-to videos which take you through each of the main tools and functions, and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

Features

Since it is significantly cheaper than the Pro version, I was under the impression that Anime Studio Debut would be pretty limited in its tools and features…but I was surprisingly mistaken.

Character Wizard

The Character Wizard has to be one of the best tools in the program in that it makes it SO easy and quick to generate and change your characters by using a series of sliders instead of having to painstakingly change everything by hand

As in the Pro version, the bone tools are really excellent and so simple to set up. If you are new to the concept of “bones” they are basically a way to create a kind of armature in your drawing and then move around the various body parts as if it were a physical stop-motion model.

Anime Studio Debut has some great vectorizing tools which give a really clean looking line quality to your work. You can import your own drawings or any image and then vectorize it for animating. The Trace tool is especially effective and allows you to cartoon-ify any image you like…very cool.

The automatic lip-synching feature is clever and produces quick results, but fairly limited as it tends to produce the same kind of animation every time. If you want really accurate lip-synching the only way is to do it yourself I’m afraid.

Motion tracking is also a cool feature and lets you be more creative in that you can import video clips and track the motions of various objects or characters and then use them as the basis for your own animations. This makes it very easy to integrate your animation with a live action clip that you have filmed.

In addition the ability to import and export in HD format is very surprising in a program that is so inexpensive. Uploading direct to YouTube and FaceBook is also a breeze.

Templates?

Anime Studio Debut comes with a number of templates and pre-prepared characters which definitely saves a lot of time if you want to practice how to get the most out of the software. However, they do tend to be quite generic so are maybe not the kind of stuff you’ll want to use in your own work.

As mentioned above, the Character Wizard makes it very easy to change the appearance and form of your characters which you can also do to the templates.

Negatives

On the whole the biggest negative for me is I found there are quite limited tools when it comes to traditional frame-by-frame drawn animation. Some folks would criticise me for saying this and claim that it is not really designed for this, but rather for more cut-out Flash-style animation (think South Park). Which is kind of true, however the purist in me would sometimes like to do some more freehand sketchy style animation like I can do in Animation-ish and Flip Boom All Star, but found it a little bit more awkward in Anime Studio Debut.

This is brought to bear if you try to look for an onion skinning feature in the software (seeing your previous frames to help you work out your inbetweens)…basically it doesn’t exist! It does exist in the Pro version, but to me, a 2D animation software that doesn’t have an onion skin feature is very strange indeed. I would gladly trade some of the other whizz bang features for a simple onion skin tool.

I would also contend that there is a steeper learning curve than advertised, particularly for complete beginners. If this is your first foray into 2d animation software then it might take a little longer than you think to get up to speed. Thankfully there are plenty of help files, tutorials and videos with the software, plus very helpful online forums to help you learn faster.

Overall Verdict

For the price Anime Studio Debut is a very good piece of animation software which is well within the reach of youngsters, hobbyists and beginners of all shades. With plenty of tools there are lots of ways to express your creativity and then export it easily in all the major formats.

However, if you want to do something other than cut-out style animation you will find it a bit limiting, and frankly a 2d animation software that doesn’t have an onion skin feature is inexcusable. I hope they add it in to a future release.

 

Animation-ish boxThe Animation-ish software from Toon Boom has been designed especially for children to help them get to grips with traditional drawn animation and cartooning.

Built in collaboration with professional cartoonist Peter H. Reynolds, Animation-ish claims to be the best software available for budding young artists.

In this Animation-ish review we take a look at the software to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be and whether it is worth your hard-earned cash (and your little one’s time)

Is It Easy To Use?

Upon opening the program you notice that the interface is very simply laid out with all the necessary tools in plain view – which means no trawling through hidden menus to find what you need – a real creativity killer. Your child will be up and animating in no time.

There are also 50 (yes, 50) short videos from Peter which gives help, tips and a spark of creativity whenever you need it. These can be accessed at any time while using the software.

What Age Group Is It For?

One of the cool things about Animation-ish is that it comes in 3 separate modules, designed around 3 different levels of ability from children aged 6 up to teenagers.

The 3 modules are:

Wiggledoodle-ish

Wiggledoodle-ish module
This is the basic level and is designed for very young children and absolute beginners.
The premise is that you do a simple drawing or “doodle”, then trace it, and then trace it again, giving you 3 similar drawings. When you press Play, hey presto! you have an animated doodle!

Don’t worry about staying in the lines and making a perfect tracing…the rougher the line the more character it gives to the final moving doodle.

Flipbook-ish

Flipbook-ish module
This module builds on Wiggledoodle-ish and lets you create more frames instead of just 3, giving your child a better understanding of the animation process.

Advanced-ish

Advanced-ish module
This is where it really gets fun! The advanced module introduces your child to more traditional animation concepts like multiple frames as well as foreground and background images.
There is a greater variety of tools available too like brushes, grabbers, paint tools and colour palettes which provide your child with the ability to make short little cartoons.

You are also able to move the whole drawing in this module as a layer (similar to Photoshop).

Drawbacks

For me the biggest drawback in Animation-ish is that you can’t import sound directly into the program – you have to export your animation as a QuickTime file and then add the sound or music in a 3rd party editing program.

This may not be a big issue for some users but it could become frustrating particularly if you wanted to do a talking character, as you would have to keep moving between the different programs to get your timing right.

You also can’t import other images like photos or scanned drawings to use as backgrounds.

Another minor drawback I found is that there is a tendency that all your animation begins to look the same. It all has the same wiggley line quality as a Peter H. Reynolds (the software’s creator) or Quentin Blake drawing.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that style, I really like it, it’s just that sometimes it’s nice to try something different. However this is quite a small gripe that only more advanced users may have…beginners will just be happy to see stuff moving no matter how it looks.

Verdict

All in all, Animation-ish is a wonderful little program for absolute beginners who want to try traditional animation processes and see results within minutes.

On that it scores top marks. However, I found it limiting in that you can’t import sound directly into the program, and older or more advanced children may feel they want to experiment with different styles of animation that are difficult to do in this software.