Certain actions and emotions can be presented to evoke a stronger visual impact which can then be better adapted into the final rendition of the narrative, whether it's an animated feature, live action film, television show, commercial or video game by working with 3D in Storyboard Pro.
With Toon Boom Storyboard Pro's 3D capabilities you can pre-visualize your next film in a way that encompasses your ideas and concepts much more extensively. You can transform your two-dimensional scenes to look and feel much more dynamic, thrilling and compelling with the option to import a variety of 3D file formats combined with the some very impressive tools and features.
Storyboard Pro allows you to import several 3D file formats such as .osb, .3ds, .obj, and .fbx into its Library View to be used in your scenes. Once your 3D files have been imported into your library, you can switch to a thumbnail view to see them all more clearly. From there you can simply drag a 3D object that you've imported over to your Stage View or Camera View to see how it looks in your scene. The Camera View will provide you with the most accurate representation of how your object will appear in the scene.
You can think of the Stage View as an area where you can freely navigate, orbit around, and construct the various aspects your scene. Once a 3D object has been dropped into either of these views, your scene will automatically be converted from a 2D to a 3D environment. You'll notice that your 3D object will be located on a new 3D layer in the layers section which is visible in both the Stage and Camera Views.
If you have already spent some time working in Storyboard Pro animating 2D layers you'll know that you can use both the First Frame and Last Frame tools to achieve this. By clicking on either of these tools with your 3D layer selected you'll find that you have controls to transform your object in 3D space along X,Y and Z axes to position, rotate and scale it.
For example, if you have a 3D model of a spacecraft that you want to move through your scene, you could position its starting point using the First Frame Tool and then position it to appear further away from the camera's view along the Z axis using the Last Frame Tool. You could also add some rotation at the start and end positions for some additional movement.
As you begin to explore transforming 3D models in a scene, you'll also want to consider how 2D elements in the environment of your scene are being represented visually. Ultimately, you want everything to feel cohesive when it comes to how a scene's animated actions play out. This is where you may decide how 2D layers will be visually represented to best fit a 3D scene along with any other 3D objects that might be within it.
We can also use the First Frame and Last Frame tools to transform 2D layers in 3D space along X, Y, and Z axes to position, rotate and scale them. However, your scene must already be converted to 3D in order to achieve this. As mentioned above, your scene will be automatically converted to 3D if you've dropped an imported 3D model into the Stage or Camera view. If your intention is to transform your 2D layers in 3D prior to dropping in any 3D models, you will need to click on the 3D button located in the Storyboard Toolbar. This will enable 3D for the scene that you currently have selected. Other scenes in your project will remain two-dimensional unless you choose to select and convert them in the same fashion.
One great benefit to transforming 2D layers in a 3D scene is that you can create the illusion of three-dimensional depth by positioning your layers apart from each other along the Z axis. This depth only becomes apparent once you begin to pan the camera along the X and Y axes where you'll begin to see a parallax effect between all of these positioned layers. This illusion of depth is further reinforced once you begin to move your camera through the 3D environment along the Z axis, moving past these positioned layers, which is very similar to how the multi-plane camera functioned on traditional animated films.
Walt Disney Studios' multi-plane camera revolutionized how animated features would be filmed. Their multi-plane camera included several panes of glass that each contained a layer of a scene's artwork painted on them. The panes were vertically stacked and spaced apart from each other underneath a camera. These glass panes containing artwork would then be moved at various speeds and photographed by the camera. The end result was an animated scene that had a strong sense of depth and allowed the audience to become immersed into the world of visual storytelling.
So in Storyboard Pro for example, if you have several layers containing drawings of asteroids and you want the viewer feel like they're zipping past them through space then you could separate these layers apart from each other using the First Frame tool along the Z axis followed by animating the camera to move past these planes in Z space. By using both the Top and Side Views in the Storyboard Pro's interface you can easily see where individual layers are being positioned along the X, Y and Z axes in a 3D scene. These views can help you organize your layers with accuracy.
The layer you currently have selected will appear as a pink highlighted plane in either of these Views. Additionally, you can see and position the camera through your 3D scene along these axes by using these Views. If you have spent any time working with some of the 3D features in Toon Boom Harmony some of this might actually be a little familiar to you.
If you've already spent some time using the Camera Tool in Storyboard Pro, you'll have most likely learned that you can position the camera statically and set keyframes to animate it panning along the X and Y axes in addition to zooming in and out to adjust its path. When working with the camera in a 3D scene, you have the additional freedom to position and rotate it along all three axes to achieve some really dynamic camera movements.
However, as you begin to animate your camera in 3D space you might notice some of your 2D layers starting to appear skewed do to the positioning of the camera at any point in time as it moves through the scene. This happens because these 2D layers are still flat objects, regardless of where they are positioned in space. A remedy is to open up the Layer View and set the alignment for a selected 2D layer.
If you choose "Face Camera" for the alignment option then that specific 2D layer will always face the eye of the camera no matter where it's positioned. This helps preserve that illusion of depth you'll be aiming for in your 3D scene.
As you begin to finalize the look of your 3D scene, you might find yourself wanting to edit one of your 2D drawings. You won't be able to do this if that 2D layer has been transformed in any way. A way to get around this is to click on a button called "Look at Selected" which is located at the bottom of the Stage View. This will show you the 2D drawing in it's original state before it was transformed. You now have the freedom to draw on it again or make other edits to that layer.
As you become more familiar with all of these 3D related tools and features in Storyboard Pro you'll find that you're able to pre-visualize your scenes in a way that will translate visually to the final film with a lot more clarity.
For more on Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, check out the Digital-Tutors 2D and 3D libraries.