Toon Boom Technologies launched a totally revamped Web site at midnight. And in the next week or so, the company will be offering a beta version of Toon Boom Studio 1.0, its upcoming animation application for Mac OS X.
Benoit Beland, Toon Boom’s marketing director, said that the revamped Web site is so different that they don’t even consider the previous versions the real deal. He said the Toon Boom site was developed in three phases. The first came in January when the company announced its Mac platform plans at Macworld Expo.
“The first phase of the Web site was just to support our presence at Macworld [Expo] San Francisco,” Beland said. “It was a marketing initiative to tease and inform people about our upcoming software. The first phase was supposed to end on Feb. 28 when the software was released. Unfortunately, we got some surprises from our friends at Apple regarding the Mac OS X development process, and it threw us behind a bit.”
Phase two of the development was the educational phase in which Web site was tweaked to tell about features of Toon Boom Studio. Now phase three is here and the site offers a Support section (the company will support Studio online), a Theater section (where Toon Boom users can post their work for others to see and critique), an online store, and a Life section that offers links to other sites of interest to Toon Boom users.
“The Web site is our main communications platform, as we distribute our software solely online, at least at beginning,” Beland said. “So we wanted to make sure that the site offers a grand experience and shows the grand promise of our software.”
Toon Boom Studio 1.0 will run on Mac OS X. The product is designed to bring many of the capabilities of Toon Boom’s high-end product, USAnimation, to the designers and creators of character animations for the Web. Toon Boom Studio 1.0 will take advantage of the Aqua interface of Mac OS X and the Quartz graphics engine. For example, its paint and drawing tools rely on the Quartz technology to give the user optimal quality in drawing and coloring a vector animation.
It will use QuickTime for Flash playback, media import, and, in the next release, real-time playback. Toon Boom also integrates with such Web publishing programs as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe GoLive, Adobe LiveMotion, Macromedia Flash, and Macromedia Dreamweaver. Look for a finished version by the end of June after an admittedly short beta test period.
“Software developed for OS X delivers high-end capabilities and sophisticated tools allowing for unlimited creativity, free from technological constraints,” Toon Boom spokesperson Lisa Krug told MacCentral earlier this year.
It will provide a richer set of capabilities than presently available from existing Web-publishing products, including 3D scene planning, 3D camera moves, a color palette, power paint, and paperless drawing functions, according to the folks at Toon Boom. What’s more, they add that Toon Boom Studio 1.0 will offer a complete digital workflow to maximize quality and productivity and “to free storytelling from technological constraints.”
“Mac OS X’s robust underlying UNIX architecture has enabled us to develop and port our software in a speedy and easy manner,” Toon Boom CEO Jacques Bilodeau, said. “Through OS X features like embedded multi-tasking, the Velocity Engine, and Quartz, we have seen significant speed enhancements to our application on the Macintosh platform.”
The finished app is due at the end of June. That seems like a fast transition from a beta to completion, but Beland said the beta is “very, very stable,” as it is.
“We did a lot of work up front and the public beta is a very close to finished,” he said. “We’ve been undergoing a very hectic testing plan the past month and just want to do a few final ‘stress tests’ on the beta. But we’re very confident that it will please the people who try it.”
He said that Toon Boom would offer a contest in conjunction with the beta release. Details will be offered when the Toon Boom Studio beta is released.