Bugs Bunny Cartoon Workshop – PC Review

When it comes to animation, Walt Disney ranks at the top
in detail and quality. There is a price to Disney animation,
however. It does not come easy. To achieve its
level of sophistication requires hours of skillful work per onscreen
second and years from idea to final product. It is also the
result of experience and the use of the techniques known to
produce good animation. The cartoons of Warner Brothers
(featuring Bugs Bunny and the other Looney Tunes characters)
are certainly much simpler, yet very funny and satisfying in their
own distinctive style.
It is no different with two relatively new animation packages for
the home computer. The one from Walt Disney Software is
thorough, but the product based on Bugs Bunny is a lot more
fun for the casual user. This review only looks at two of the
many animation software products available for your home computer.
Many new graphic software products also include ways to
produce animation.
What’s Up, Doc?
The Bugs Bunny Cartoon Workshop from Hi Tech Expressions
for the IBM PC and compatibles is a complete
animation package, although it does not include drawing
tools. It is ideal for teaching the basics of animated video
production, without requiring any artistic expertise. All the
artwork has been completed and the user simply acts as the
director. One selects the cartoon characters (actors), backgrounds
(stage), sound effects and musical score. Then, one
simply adds text bubbles where desired and it is “showtime.” A
special “Junior” mode makes it easy for children or any beginner
to put together an animated cartoon and a “Master” mode gives
the advanced user full control over the animation.
The would-be director has a cast of characters which includes:
Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, Daffy Duck, Sylvester,
Tweety and Elmer Fudd (all dutifully licensed and
trademarked). The program comes with a tutorial that introduces
all the features of the program and, to make it even more intuitive,
uses icons (pictures representing commands) to perform all
the steps needed to put together an animated presentation. The
interface allows keyboard input to select the necessary icons, but
really shines with a mouse.
Cartoons in The Bugs Bunny Cartoon Workshop are structured
from the scenery up. One starts by selecting a “stage.”
Then, as scenes change, other stages can be added as needed. It
is, of course, possible to jump back and forth between one or
more of the same stages. In addition to the variety in stage
scenery, there is a choice between “types” of stage. Some stages
are static backgrounds, while others are moving (an old movie
technique, first used in silent movies, which gives action to characters
in the scene). One can, of course, add props to any stage
and some of the props can even be animated to give the illusion
of a zoom effect. Backgrounds for title and conclusion screens
are also provided.
Next, actors and other props are added. These can be flipped
or rotated to be in different positions. Each actor comes with a
number of pre-animated actions. These can be viewed prior to
selection. An actor is then positioned on the scene and its action
from start to finish can be defined. An action sequence can be
edited to produce the action wanted or direction of actor’s movement
changed for special effects. Actors can
easily be removed from a scene or moved in
front of props or other actors.
Special effects can be added to an animation;
e.g. setting the scene’s duration (the number of
different action frames) and the speed of the action
(the rate at which those frames are displayed
from very fast to very slow). It is even
possible to create a transition from one scene
to another by using fade boxes or fade pixels. Adding or removing
sounds and musical themes to each scene is also possible.
One can also create a variety of text bubbles which can be positioned
anywhere in the scene (but always appearing behind any
actors). To add variety, the size of text bubbles can be changed
and different text colors/fonts can be used in each bubble.
Finally, one can use the editing options to cut, move, duplicate
or insert a scene. This enables the “director” to continue the action
of characters by instructing them to repeat their current action,
e.g. walking across a stage. Then, it is a simple matter to
save the custom cartoons to to disk for later viewing or as gifts
for someone else to enjoy, even if they do not have the Cartoon
Workshop program itself. In fact, if a computer projection system
is available, these “cartoons”
make great presentations
at school or work.