A change worth noting…
Toon Boom, creator of a variety of software products for digital 2D animation, is apparently moving toward a single source approach with a focus on their top of the line product Harmony.
This is good on several fronts although I admit to feeling a bit sad that a few early entry points into digital animation are being abandoned. Let me explain a little more about my internal conflict: 😉
First a little background.
I’m most definitely not a fan of hobble-ware. Hobble-ware is my term for software that is like another product (by the same company) but with a limited feature set not found in the ‘full version’ of the top tier product. These product are often intentionally restricted in order to maximize profit at the risk of the customer becoming disillusioned when they discover some feature that isn’t available in the product they bought but is available if they upgrade to another product . Toon Boom has had a number of these products, Toon Boom, Toon Boom Studio, Animate, Animate Pro, etc. etc. some of which are still being sold as of this date but apparently will be fazed out by end of year (2015). Almost all of these products have recently been purged from their website.
There are several reasons this move to streamline product makes sense and I won’t go into all the various aspects (pros and cons) unless asked to delve further but I’ll mention a few because they are relevant to current trends in software.
Toon Boom’s approach appears to be to get young animtors involved via their Flip Boom software which I posted on a very long time ago. This is an excellent introduction to digital animation for those who might not have much interest or affinity getting started. For most it’ll be too basic but for young animators a lot of experience can be gained without the unnecessary distractions of loaded-down-with-endless=features (read: complex) software. Toon Boom does have a nasty habit of having potential customers ‘contact us for more information’ which generally equates to ‘you can’t afford it.’ In this case it relates to their educational offering of Flip Boom (and… your guess is as good as mine. I understand why they do this but don’t care for the practice. On the plus side, it does cut to the chase and save everyone time chasing after products that no one wants.
The primary focus now for Toon Boom is Harmony and Storyboard Pro which I personally see as two parts of the same product. In other words, if you purchase one you’ll likely purchase the other. These aren’t cheap but… guess what? Toon Boom is yet another company that is embracing the software subscription model. Folks should know that while subscription based software is not the end all and be all it does grant access to high end software that otherwise would not be affordable.
Toon Boom is obviously hoping to cover the full spectrum from start to finish they are also wise enough to recognize.
Rather than go into detail on information readily available online I’ll suggest those with an interest check out their site:
Customers feedback doesn’t generally accomplish significant change like this. This is more of a sign of embracing financial reality. Realignments of this nature often occur when a company is looking for a buyer or investor. Perhaps that is that the case here? Regardless, I hope the effort to bring their digital tools to a wider audience while consolidating products will prove profitable enough to continue in this direction.