Anime Studio Pro 10 Review
Anime Studio Pro 10 offers new features and enhancements that make going from creation to output of your finished animation faster and smoother.
If you have not used the software before, the Anime Studio series allows casual animation enthusiasts and professional animators to produce high-quality animation. The basics of the software are easy to learn. The included documentation is sufficient to get you up and running. If you need a more visual walkthrough of the basic or more advanced features, Smith Micro offers a comprehensive tutorial page and holds regular webinars to help their users get the most out of the software. I’ve found the tutorials and overviews effectively eliminate some of the time that would otherwise be spent learning through experimentation.
The promised features that most immediately grabbed my attention were the improvements to Smart Bones. Anime Studio Pro 9.5 had introduced organizational tools that included tagging bones with names and colors as well as allowing for control of bone layers deeper in your layer organization. Anime Studio Pro 10 allows bones in your rig to maintain an independent angle. It now features squash and stretch scaling and elbow binding for more convincing bending at joints. Target bones eliminate some of the need to consistently adjust bone angles and Maximum IK Stretching will allow affected bones to stretch away from their target bones.
Smart Bone Dials were introduced in 9.5 and allow users to control repetitive motions with the use of an on-screen dial. Anime Studio Pro 10 simplifies the creation of Smart Bone dials. Upon creation of the bone intended to be used as a dial, users may go to a menu option which will allow the name, maximum angle, minimum angle and lifetime frames for the action to be set. Clicking “Okay” will create the action for the user.
Translate, scale and rotate for Bones have been consolidated into the Transform Bone tool. The same manipulation tools (scale, translate, rotate) for points have been consolidated into the Transform Points Tool. Bones and points may also be hidden and shown as needed, allowing for a less cluttered workspace.
A new keyframe interpolation option has been added alongside Bounce and Elastic. Stagger creates the effect that the animation is stuttering or staggering between two keyframes. One of the examples used to illustrate the option was a weightlifter struggling to lift a heavy object.
Fractional values are now available for blur, allowing for smoother blur animation with less stepping in the final render. A depth of field indicator is now available on screen. Results of adjustments to the depth of field can be viewed immediately.
A freehand brush may be used to create shapes and characters that can then be rigged and animated. A point reduction brush tool has been added. Users can use this tool to minimize the number of points used in the construction of a shape or object created with the freehand brush. Using shapes and the paint bucket, Boolean cut outs are possible. All of the updated drawing tools will allow users to create more complex shapes while minimizing the amount of time necessary to build them.
GPU acceleration in Anime Studio Pro 10 has been expanded to affect vector tools. This will allow the preview of the freehand drawing tools to be much closer to what is laid down onscreen. It also allows for objects and animation to be displayed faster.
Rendering has been split off into a separate process. Users will now be able to continue working in Anime Studio Pro 10 while their animation render or multiple renders are taking place.
For this review I revisited the cartoon cat model I built for the walk cycle in my Anime Studio Pro 9.5 review. I used it to test the features available in Anime Studio Pro 10. I decided to delete all of the bones and rig it again in the updated software. While rigging, I used the newly consolidated Transform Bone tool to adjust bones in the rig.
I added target bones near its heels, switched over to the first frame of my project and moved the cat around to see how the new feature would help in animating the character. I played with the Squash and Stretch Scaling and Maximum IK Stretching. I tested the improved bone dial on some leg movements. All of these will be helpful in cutting down on the time it’ll take to recreate and improve upon that walk cycle. For the heck of it, I added some Stagger and Bounce to the leg movement, which gave the cat a slightly arthritic gait.
Another new feature in Anime Studio Pro 10 is the ability to open other projects in new tabs. So, I did just that. On my new canvas, I used the freehand brush I created an abstract shape. I added to the shape and erased portions of it with ease. As a final test of the software, I added some blur to the layer containing my abstract shape in a later keyframe. The render of the blur was smooth with no noticeable stepping.
Every new feature tested in Anime Studio Pro 10 delivered as promised. No addition to the software feels frivolous. They all serve the purpose of saving time, keeping organized and improving the quality of animation.
Anime Studio Pro 10 is available for $299.99. Upgrade options are available for owners of previous versions of the software. More detailed product, pricing and upgrade information is available on the Anime Studio Website.