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REVIEW: Adobe Animate CC from a Flash Veteran’s Point of View

Titmouse Inc.’s Mike Roush puts the redesigned Adobe Flash Professional -- with new tools and even better functionality -- through its paces in a real-world production environment.

I’ve been using Flash for the past 12 years, so it’s safe to say Adobe’s new reboot of the animation tool has been a big source of excitement for me. At Titmouse, making cartoons is a labor of love. We like to give our team the best technology to enable their creativity. I had big hopes for Animate CC’s new tools, and I can safely say they have not disappointed me. Flash Professional was the standard for creating animations at Titmouse for digital platforms, and now Animate CC is taking things one big step forward.

More Speed

The number one thing for us is speed: it is a big deal for us. Flash Professional was one of the of the fastest animation softwares on the market and that’s why we used it. Animators spend a lot of time every day massaging their computers and their software, shaving seconds off every function. That’s why Animate CC is so great: it is a very fast program. It’s light on its feet, taking you directly to the art with the least amount of red tape. My team at Titmouse has been using older versions of Flash Professional, so the fact that Animate CC ran faster and saved quicker caused our artists here to do a little dance of joy.

More Cloud-Based Sharing

The first thing that will jump out at animators is that there are many changes, some of which have a big impact on companies like ours. Our artists are spread around the world, so the promise of being able to share assets over the cloud, across devices is huge. Any tool that helps us disseminate and control assets is highly valuable. New access to the huge Adobe Stock library is a really cool feature too. No doubt we’ll get addicted to it very soon, now that we can play with it within the software itself.

I love Adobe Capture, and now you can access it from Animate CC. You can capture colors from a smartphone, create a quick color palette, and then share palettes over the cloud. It’s a little time saver that means a lot to us at Titmouse.

More Drawing Tools

New vector art brushes scale to any resolution in Animate CC. The new “zoom brush size with stage” button is totally one of those little dance occasions I mentioned earlier. For people in production like us, making characters look tight and clean is very important. Now this new brush tool is making our lives easier by leaps and bounds. I used to have to really crunch numbers in a budget when agreeing to a certain look when starting a new project. With this tool I know I’ll be able to do it. Saying yes more often to a client, is always a good thing.

There’s also a new “width tool” that I love. It allows you to change the thickness of a pencil line on the fly and then save it to a library (making it easy to recall later on). You can make these super subtle tapered lines, just like the ones you see comic book artists do with very expensive inking brushes. Once again, this is a huge time saver for my team: a drawing that used to take us hours to “ink” can be done in a fraction of the time.

We’re still getting used to the two different types of brush tools, but I’m a big fan of more tools. Hopefully we’ll get some major advantages out of all of them.

More Export Capabilities

Being able to export in 4K video will be important for us at Titmouse in the future. Since 2008, we’ve been exclusively using Flash Professional CS3 because it works so well with QuickTime. Avoiding updating the program just made sense, but now that full compatibility is back in Animate CC, so are we. Updating to Animate has put us back on track and moving faster than ever, because we’re able to export high-quality .mov files right from the program.

Exporting in 4K is now a necessity. More and more of our clients are requesting 4K quality, and the fact that Animate CC does it so well is great. We sometimes export finished broadcast-ready video and, in the past, trying to figure out how to meet the needs of our broadcast clients has gummed up production. Animate CC can just do it for us. I no longer have to worry about the quality we can offer our clients. Now I get to direct my attention elsewhere.

More Possibilities in the Future

Animate CC has the new ability to export a project as an .oam file, making it possible to directly import your work into Adobe Muse, Digital Publishing Suite, inDesign CC, and Dreamweaver CC. These programs haven’t been a part of our workflow because we could never import one of our projects into them. Now that we can, we’ll be able to use them to our advantage in Animate CC. That’s my biggest take away from Animate CC’s new features: they’re there to help us take our ideas and make them reality with a new level of perfectionism.

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Mike Roush is an American-born animator and director known for his work on TV programs such as Metalocalypse (Adult Swim), Motorcity (Disney XD), and Turbo F.A.S.T. (DreamWorks Animation and Netflix), among others. His award-winning short film, The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl, has shown at many prestigious film festivals including Annecy, Anima Mundi, and Spike and Mike's new generation animation. Currently Roush is acting director of animation at Titmouse Inc., where he has worked for the last 12 years. He is also working with Adobe as a consultant in the development of Adobe Animate CC.
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