Flash has become a popular animation tool in its own right, as anybody that follows Aaron Simpson’s blog Cold Hard Flash can tell you. Even with this surge in popularity the question remains — how does Flash compare with a more formal animation program such as Toon Boom?
Toon Boom Strengths
There are many things that Toon Boom can do that Flash animators wish they had access to. Note that some of these can be accomplished in Flash via additional plugins, but not by default.
- Parent Child Relationship – The most powerful integrated tool in the Toon Boom arsenal is proper parent child relationships between elements. The ability to attach one drawing to another and have it mimic the parent’s movements is a key feature of limited animation. Flash users have been begging for this functionality for years but neither Macromedia or Adobe has seen fit to grant this feature.
- Detailed Camera Controls – Toon Boom you to easily pan, zoom and track your camera. The system offers budding directors all the camera control they’ll need.
- Cell Controls – Used for quickly changing a drawing for a frame of any particular element, Toon Boom Studio can inherently do what Flash requires a plugin for (AnimSlider Pro).
- Z-Axis Control – The ability to place elements with a z-axis 3D environment is an important tool in the animator’s arsenal. By default Flash hinders animators by forcing a dual-plane environment.
- Exposure Sheet – Traditional animators are accustomed to using exposure sheets to draw their characters. This allows you to view many drawings at once and really nail your timing.
- Library Management – While Flash allows you to import and export items from other movies there is no distinct library management tool. Toon Boom allows easy drag and drop capabilities to quickly managed your digital assets.
- Actionscript – The scripting language integrated into Flash continues to be a powerful asset, allowing Flash to do what it’s best at: web publishing. Database interaction, custom forms, interactive quizzes are all possible with Actionscript. This advanced scripting can be put to good use in animation as well, especially for things that would be difficult to animation by hand like particle effects.
- Blur Effect – Flash MX saw the first bitmap blur effect for vector graphics, and this has proven to be a useful tool for animators looking to push the envelope with impressive realism.
- Customizable Preloaders – Toon Boom currently has a default preloader that can be assigned to SWF files but it can not be modified. Flash allows you to create and edit your preloaders how you see fit.
So Which is Better?
If your animation requires interaction Flash is the clear choice. Toon Boom is centered around animation throughout, which makes it preferred by animators. Toon Boom has great integration with Flash though, so using them both together makes a great animation studio.