For some time now Toon Boom animators have been crying out for a proper blur effect to add to their arsenal. If similar vector-based applications like Flash can manage to create bitmapped blur effects certainly Toon Boom can emulate that success?
Toon Boom Studio 4 sought to bridge this missing feature with a feathering tool. Unfortunately, the limitations of this new tool were quickly uncovered.
- Cannot be applied to pegs or multiple elements
- Cannot be modified over time
- Cannot be applied to more than one cell
- Even at the highest settings the clarity of the feathering is not especially attractive
While working on a new cartoon last week I thought I had found a temporary workaround. The goal was a basic depth-of-field effect, where the camera changes focus based on the distance the subject is from the camera. After exporting a screenshot into Photoshop I applied a basic Gaussian blur to the image, then imported that back into Toon Boom.
Everything was going fine until I reached what I expect the Toon Boom engineers are going through. Toon Boom properly exported the animation to .mov format. From there, however no program could properly change the dimensions, something that should have been quite simple. The problem is that the transformed file would play just fine until it reached the first frame that had the bitmapped blur image imported. The video playback would freeze while the audio playback continued.
The solution was convoluted, and involved exporting the movie from Quicktime as individual images, importing those images back into a new movie in Quicktime, then reimporting that movie into GarageBand to reapply the sound and music.
The point being that there are a lot of behind-the-scenes technical limitations to applying a bitmap blur effect to a vector images. As an animator there’s nothing I want to see more than a blur effect in Toon Boom (and Wall-E). As a programmer, I realize that there are many hurdles for the engineers to overcome as they strive to create this utility.
The final product will no doubt be worth the wait, and I’ll be first in line to purchase it.