The Bottom Line
- Character Wizard quickly generates custom characters.
- Outputs to numerous formats, including YouTube.
- Great image tracing tool converts raster to vector.
- Bone system still warps images a little too easily.
- Sliders on the character studio interface are a little buggy and sticky in Windows 7.
- Horrid art on premade content inteded for user customization and use.
- Beginner-to-intermediate level animation program with a simplified interface and guided learning curve.
- Breaks bone-based animation down into easy steps that simplify animation and move it away from the frame-by-frame model.
- Features numerous tools to publish and share animated content.
- Allows audio integration to further enhance animated content.
- Rich content libraries easily accessible from within the program.
Guide Review - Anime Studio Debut 8 Animation Software Review
Yet on opening the application for the first time, rather than a sense of returning to a familiar, comfortable workspace I'm instead greeted by a humdrum sense of same-old, same-old. Even adding in interface improvements and upgrades to the bone rigging system, this still feels more like a patch than a wholly new release.
That's not to say it's a bad release. As a tool for beginning animators, consider Anime Studio Debut 8 the next step up from Toon Boom's Flip Boom: easy enough for anyone to grasp, but not so easy that it's childlike or limited to the point of being little more than a toy. It's an extremely useful program, with sophisticated features packaged into an accessible point-and-click format that renders the animation process down not into principle, but into function. To put it simply, you tell Anime Studio Debut 8 what you want to do, and it does it for you. It's a little black box of animation; most beginners won't know what's going on inside, but they'll know it's working.
Rather than simply doing all the work for you, though, Anime Studio Debut 8 does promote learning. Tooltips and instructions ensure you understand the ideas behind the tools you're using, and encourage you to innovate and experiment on your own to really understand animation as a whole. There's a subtle guided learning process built in, where you don't even realize you're absorbing information as you explore the tools and follow the paths laid out to new tricks and features.
One thing Anime Studio Debut has over other beginner animation programs is the Character Wizard. Using premade vector graphics, you can customize numerous character features in a slider-based interface. Now granted, the art for the pre-made characters is eleven different kinds of horrifying, but when it saves you from having to do the drawing yourself you take what you can get. It's not so bad it'll give your children nightmares, and it makes for a quick output - though it does strike me as sloppy that they couldn't put more effort into their premade content, as much of it looks as though it was slapped together as a last-minute afterthough.
Overall, though, despite the new features Anime Studio Debut 8 just feels like a new coat of paint on the same old software. I can't rate it down for that because it still does what it's meant to do, and does it well...but I'd expected a bit more, though it's still worth the $49.99.