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LiveToon from DVShade: A Review from Luke Price

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CreativeCOW presents LiveToon from DVShade: A Review from Luke Price -- Noise Industries Review


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Introduction
Everybody likes someone who makes them look good and DVShade has been doing that for years. The innovative and award winning Easy Looks gives every project the chance of looking beautifully graded with minimal effort making even dull and uninteresting subjects intriguing.

Now for a bit of fun.
DVShades latest offering does the same in a whole different way. LiveToon takes a dive into the comic book with the capability to turn your live action footage into convincing cartoons by adding a comprehensive toolbox of parameters to the traditional posterization effect, with stunning results. LiveToon, with the same ease that 'Looks' provided instant cinematic colour grading, transforms footage into our favorite drawn art form, with surprisingly effective results.

Below: Split shot showing LiveToon in action. Left is the clean image and Right is LiveToon's 'Deep Blacks'

All source footage used with the kind permission of Ginger Productions. ©Ginger Production 2010

Out-of-the-box Presets
By dropping the LiveToon filter on to your clip in Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, Motion or After Effects you are presented with great looking presets to inspire you and use out-of-the-box. But there is also a comprehensive list of customizable parameters to tune and tinker with the image to better suit your material or create bespoke styles. You can be 'tooning' you films in no time. (Sorry couldn't resist the cheap pun)

Below: One of the effective presets 'Comic Book' is a great one to get you started, note the print dot like texture



Below: Another preset and a favorite of mine 'Graphic Novel', for a more gritty look.


The pleasing number of presets to get you started, cover the bases pretty well. 'Comic Book' gives a convincing well saturated impression of a quality illustrated story magazine, showing printing dots, soft broken edges, deep blacks and rich tones. 'Graphic Novel' presents the footage in the low rent colour pallet you would expect to see in hefty pulp fiction drawn classics, using cheap ink and paper, flat colour fills, heavy handed black block shading and a reduced hue range. The parameters you can manipulate to get what you want from the filter include the essentials for adding and removing colour and detail, 'Saturation' and 'Color Detail' handle these. 'Posterization' is the engine that makes the footage look 'cartoon', while 'Edge Lines' and 'Black Restore' fine-tune the look. But it's the inclusion of the 'Screen' parameter that gives you the choice of halftone 'Dot', 'Line', 'Hatched' or 'Circular' to add the characteristic printed look.

Below: LiveToon's parameters in Final Cut Pro




Comments

Because cartoons are not real, the closer to real they look, the less effective they are
by Ron Lindeboom
Hi Luke, others may have a differing opinion (and they are entitled to whatever opinion they hold on the subject) but as for me, I find that when cartoons are too close to real, they lose their effectiveness. That is why I like to see people start by shifting the frame count in a cartoon. Doing this harkens back to the days when cartoons were hand-drawn and they would shoot a photograph of the hand-drawn frame and make two of each frame. That way, cartoons were 24 frame movies but were really 12 frames with duplicate frames and that became the normal "brain processing" that generations equated with cartoons. When "A Scanner Darkly" came along (opening the door to things like the Charles Schwab commercials, et al), they used the full frames available -- 24 frames for the movie and 30 for the commercials -- and so the motion screams to the brain that this isn't a cartoon, it's a video or film that has been repainted to look like some kind of not-quite-cartoon. When I see techniques like you have done here, Luke, and the artist takes the time to first get the frame motion correct, I have seen some good work. When it is done like the Charles Schwab commercials, my skin crawls as it is too creepy for me. We were just at Dreamworks Animation this week to see a preview screening of "How To Train Your Dragon" and they were talking about this very phenomenon -- where animation tries to get too close to reality -- and they said that when that happens at DreamWorks, they throw out the whole scene and start over. They don't try to fix it. I thought it was great advice.
Bessie is cartoonified!
by Kathlyn Lindeboom
I have to say I had fun trying all the different settings on Bessie... and that was just the presets. There's certainly a lot more to it than just the presets.
Cartoons are not real - Discuss
by Luke Price
I'm totally with you there Ron. Making a significant alteration to live action like LiveToon often calls for some re-calculations on timing even if it's only a De-interlace. It is really down to the look you are after but I would recommend anyone to play around with frame rates to get realistic cartoon motion (if that's not an oxymoron)

Greatly appreciate your input Ron.
A little recommendation before cartoonifying a video...
by Ron Lindeboom
One of the things that I absolutely hate about cartoonified video is when users do not take the extra step to "re-time" the frame rate so that it mimics the motion that you expect from a cartoon. The Charles Schwab commercials are so "30 frames a second" that they give me the creeps. I hate 'em. I found in my own cartoonifying efforts that using a tool like After Effects to posterize time down to 8 to 12 frames a second gives a believable timing that doesn't look like someone just slapped a cartoon filter onto full frame rate video. Retime the video before before you cartoonify it. Please. All of these 30 frame a second full motion cartoons give me the creeps.

:o)

A very good article and nice points you make in it, Luke. I hope you don't mind my suggestion.


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