Review: Anime Studio Pro 11
Staff Writer By: Ricky Grove (gToon)
Review: Anime Studio Pro 11
Smith Micro must be riding high right now. In addition to adding a long requested feature to their newest version of Anime Studio (frame-by-frame animation), the Oscar-winning animated film "Song of the Sea" used Anime Studio Pro 11 to animate approximately 3 minutes of the film. Considering that Anime Studio Pro's user base has been primarily hobbyists and internet animator, the fact that a pro-level animation company like XX is using the software speaks volumes for it's increasing appeal to the professional animator. Or perhaps they are only just figuring out how very powerful and easy to use Anime Studio Pro is?
Anime Studio Pro 11: What's New
This is one huge upgrade over previous versions of Anime Studio Pro. Not that that the previous ones were small, it's just that there are so many improvements and tweaks there are too many to list here. You can get a complete list of new additions to the program here. For now, I'll just give you the highlights. Of course, the major addition is frame-by-frame animating (see above) which is something users have been requesting for some time.
Layer Referencing NEW in Anime Studio Pro 11 - Now you can duplicate layers while maintaining a connection to the original. This enables collaborators to work simultaneously while easily updating changes into respective stages of the pipeline.
Animated Bone Targets NEW in Anime Studio Pro 11 - Now you can easily switch from one target bone to another when working with animated bone targets. Animating objects where a handoff occurs is now easier and smoother than ever.
Animated Bone Parenting NEW in Anime Studio Pro 11 - Now you can switch parents for your bones mid-animation and Anime Studio will automatically keyframe the result. Use the Re-parent Bone Tool at any time to reset the parent or unlink bones completely by clicking off the canvas.
Improved Photoshop File Support NEW in Anime Studio Pro 11 - Now new PSD layers will be applied into Anime Studio when the active file is updated in Photoshop. If layers are re-arranged, Anime Studio will maintain its own layer ordering but still reflect the visual changes made from Photoshop.
Timeline Enhancements NEW in Anime Studio Pro 11 - You can now show and hide channels on the timeline based on your preferences. This can reduce timeline clutter and help you focus on specific channels for easier editing and animation.
Working with Anime Studio Pro 11
As usual, Anime Studio Pro 11 is easy and fun to use. I don't use a Wacom tablet for animation, so most of the files I use in Anime Studio Pro 11 are imported from Adobe's Photoshop CC 2015. With big improvements to importing layered Photoshop files into Anime Studio Pro 11, I had no problem bringing in my drawings to animate. Note that drawing inside of Anime Studio Pro 11 is much more effective in this version according to Smith Micro, I just didn't get a chance to test them.
Of course, I immediately wanted to try out the new frame-by-frame animation feature and I can report that it is very, very nice. Using Anime Studio Pro 11's onionskin feature, it's possible to animation in the traditional fashion with outstanding results. I suspect with feedback from industry pros, Smith-Micro will be fine-tuning this animation feature more in the future. I love it.
The upgrades to the Anime Studio Pro 11 bone system are quick impressive and time-saving. Being able to change target bones in mid-animation is such a great improvement. Also, you don't have to do sneaky workarounds any more when you want to re-parent a bone (or bones) in a scene. Bone parenting allows you to switch bone parents right in the middle of your animation. So much easier to animated certain scenes now.
Anime Studio Pro 11's new Timeline Channels interface
I've always like the Anime Studio Pro interface, but the improvements to the timeline in Anime Studio Pro 11 really make it easier to see what you are doing and to find the details you want to manipulate in your animation. Being able to hide channels is brilliant. The Timeline Channels viewport lets you choose which channels you want to work with simply by clicking them. When you are done, just open the viewport again and click "all" and you are back to seeing all of your channels.
Of special note to Poser fans, Anime Studio Pro 11 can now import Poser scenes! Yep, Smith Micro has essentially opened the door to a whole new world of animation inside of Anime Studio Pro 11. The already great camera controls and 3D object manipulation inside of Anime Studio Pro 11 will allow 2.5D scenes and animations of great complexity.
Anime Studio Pro 11 is quite simply the best version of an already powerful and easy to use animation application. The addition of frame-by-frame animation alone is worth the upgrade price. However, the improvements to the applications Bone System are nearly as impressive. This version is clearly a must-by if you are already a fan, but if you are a new user, I highly recommend starting out with Anime Studio Pro: it's easy to use, yet grows in complexity as you learn, and is a now a complete package for animation. And the price, compared to other professional animation applications, simply can't be beaten.
Anime Studio Pro 11 has my highest recommendation and is now part of my permanent digital toolset.
where: Smith-Micro develops Anime Studio Pro 11 pricing: $299, $199 upgrade. More info here. how to buy: Check the Anime Studio Pro web page demo: You can download a 30-day demo here support: large community, excellent support hardware specs: Supports Windows and Macs Renderosity Animation forum
Thanks to: Smith Micro for providing a copy of Anime Studio Pro 11 for review. Also, Michi Catanese from Smith Micro was very helpful in putting this review together. Thank you, Michi.