Story Planner Pro 3.1

Story Planner Pro offers a quick way to break the story behind an animation or video sequence down into key scenes.

Note: Pricing for this product is in US$.

Story Planner Pro offers a quick way to break the story behind an animation or video sequence down into key scenes.

Once you have a script in place, you can depict the action in the various scenes in a series of panels, each with a sketch area and room for scene info, dialogue, notes and music or effects. Camera moves and actions in the scene, represented by arrows, can be used to further define each shot. Once assembled, the finished storyboard can be printed using one of the supplied templates, saved as a PDF or output as an animatic in Flash or QuickTime movie format.

Starting a new project involves specifying the canvas size, and the intended camera resolution and aspect ratio. As well as defining the pixel resolution of sketches and the aspect ratio of animatics, this initial information is reused if you export the scenes directly to Digital Video’s animation software Toonz.

You can display the storyboard in a variety of views, including as a single panel with a row of thumbnails below, or in grid arrangements. Each scene can be made up of several panels, with different configurations of cropped corners serving as a quick identifier for where scenes begin and end. Specialized buttons make adding panels and scenes an easy operation.

Text support for both sketch area and panel boxes allows you the use of different fonts to jazz up the dialogue and there is a range of basic brush and eraser tools for content creation. These can be controlled via a pressure-sensitive tablet and pen. A colour swatch is available, but you can only access four colours from the quick palette at one time.

There is a facility for arranging scene elements in layers, to separate characters from a background, for example. You can also import images into the sketch area and crop, move and transform them, though external image support doesn’t include PSD.

You can zoom and pan in the sketch area, with external images scaling to fit the current zoom setting when imported. When you export as an animatic, the current zoom level is used.

The tools for building the animatic add a layer of complexity, but also add value to the package (otherwise you could just put a storyboard together in a graphics or desktop application). Adding camera moves involves a simple process of assigning rectangles over the start and end point in each panel. In a similar fashion you can manipulate and layers, so that different elements move and scale over time at different speeds.

A timeline is also available so that you can edit the duration and order of the animatic in a visual manner and add some simple transitions between scenes. It’s also possible to add several audio tracks, for dialogue, effects and music and edit or split them once in place in the timeline. You can import audio clips, though formats are restricted to WAV and AIFF.

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Michael Burns

Digital Arts Magazine
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