Anime Studio Pro 9.5 Review
Anime Studio Pro 9.5 offers a number of new and worthwhile enhancements requested by users. These updates allow animators more ways in which to streamline their workflow and increase the quality of their final project renders. The Anime Studio series is an animation software package that caters to the needs of both the animation enthusiast (through Anime Studio Debut 9) and the professional animator (through Anime Studio Pro 9.5). We’ll be covering Pro 9.5 here. If you’re not sure whether Debut or Pro is right for you, you’ll want to check out the comparison chart on the Smith Micro website.
As with most content creation software, you’ll get what you put in. The more time and effort you put into honing your craft and mastering the software, the more satisfied you’ll be with the quality of your art. Anime Studio Pro aims to allow you to achieve the same quality, faster.
As an example of what the software is capable of in the right hands, here’s the HappyLand Pilot. It was created by Mike Scott, an animator featured often on the Smith Micro website. HappyLand was created using the Anime Studio series software. Congratulations to Mike on recently selling the HappyLand intellectual property.
Below is an impressive character animation reel by Amira Mostafa. It was created using a previous version of Anime Studio Pro.
The bulk of the updates have been made to Smart Bones. Smart Bones is the rigging system available in Anime Studio Pro. Smart Bones now control switch layers, layer order, layer visibility, follow path, stroke exposure, shape effect positioning, shape effect parameters, 3D thickness of vector shapes that have been converted to 3D and more. Labels and colors may now be assigned to bones. Keyframes for colored bones show up in the timeline in special colored channels that match the color of the corresponding bone. One of the more impressive updates is selective Flexi-binding. This allows users to isolate the influence of a set of bones from the rest of the skeleton, minimizing the need to come up with creative solutions to animating your character rig.
Depth Shifting has been added as an option and is used to preserve an object’s apparent size when moving it forward and back in Z. Anime Studio Pro 9.5 does this by automatically applying the proper amount of scale. Depth Shifting can be used to arrange landscapes.
We’ve listed a number of helpful usage updates in this review that we believe will be of most interest to our readers. You may read a comprehensive summarization of updates to Anime Studio Pro 9.5 in this recent article, Smith Micro Releases Anime Studio Pro 9.5.
For those new to Anime Studio Pro, it’s not a difficult software to learn the basics of quickly. The included PDF is adequate to get you rolling. If you need a more visual walkthrough of the features and how to use them, Smith Micro offers a comprehensive tutorial page and holds regular webinars to help users get the most out of the software. I did find that the videos and webinars gave me a better understanding of the tools I was working with.
Since the biggest update to Anime Studio Pro 9.5 is in Smart Bones, I wanted to animate an example of its usage through a simple, quick character walk. I, once again, built my cat character from scratch. I created it using simple shapes and I drew the legs and arms using a Wacom Intuos tablet. I used Smart Bones and selective Flexi-binding to build my character rig. That was all done within a couple of hours. I took a break for the rest of that evening and then dove into animating the next day.
I made use of the Smart Bones rig to get the basic walk in place. I still marvel at how quickly I was able to get that brief bit of animation done. When I learned how to animate, it was during the period immediately before computer generated animation took hold. If I was unhappy with my walk, as I was initially here, I would have had to scrap much of what I had done and start from scratch. I would, hopefully, have never taken it as far as inbetweening. I would have caught it while hand drawing the keyframes and shooting the animatic as a pencil test. In Anime Studio Pro 9.5, I was able to make some relatively quick adjustments to cause the character to lean in further to take it from more of a floating walk to something that felt like it had more weight.
I used switch layers to animate the eye blinks. I added some tiny little details like shifting of the mouth, ears and eyes. I added some squash and stretch to the character as it walks. I shifted the keyframes used in the animation of the arms ever so slightly to prevent the swing of the arms and legs from being in perfect synchronization. This, hopefully, made it it feel a little more organic.
I tend to be immediately unhappy with my final artwork and often find myself picking that work apart so that I might apply lessons learned in the self-criticism of my own ability to whatever I work on next. While this is no exception, my natural inclination is also balanced with the fact that this is only my third time really working with the program to create animation intended for viewing by others. The six second walk is available below. Your comments and criticisms are always welcome.
Anime Studio Pro 9.5 is available for $299.99. Anime Studio Pro 9 users can upgrade their software for $49.99 and users of Anime Studio Debut 9 or Anime Studio 6, 7, or 8 can upgrade for $149.99. More detailed product, pricing and upgrade information is available at the Anime Studio Website.