Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 136 / DECEMBER 1991 / PAGE 136

The Bugs Bunny Cartoon Workshop. (animation software) (Evaluation)
by Carol Holzberg

Cartoon favorites Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Tweety, Sylvester, Daffy Duck, and others come to life on the computer screen in The Bugs Bunny Cartoon Workshop.

This animation construction set has both Junior and Master modes, so even young children can create their own cartoons. A point-and-click icon-based interface along with a library of animated actors, props, settings, and sound effects simplifies cartoon construction.

Several ready-made Junior and Master mode cartoons are available for use as study aids or cartoon-creation jumping-off points.

Cartoon Workshop runs from floppies or a hard disk. An installation program automatically copies all the necessary files to a hard drive partition you specify.

Although program tools can be activated from the keyboard, you'll find it easier to position characters and props onscreen with the click and drag of a mouse. With keyboard input, you must select icons and perform activities via menus or toolboxes.

Cartoon Workshop has an intuitive interface. At the top of the Main Workshop screen you see a menu bar with several icons representing activities or submenus you activate with the click of the mouse. If you move the pointer to a specific icon, a brief description identifies it. You can access context-sensitive online help from each submenu.

Select the movie camera icon to show a cartoon loaded into computer memory. Once begun, the animation repeats until you stop it. Click on the icon of Bugs Bunny and activate the Direct Actors menu to place a new actor or prop in the picture.

Animators can have up to eight actors or props onscreen simultaneously. Actors come with a style book, or repertoire, of animated actions you direct them to perform. You can also add a number of props, many of them animated (balloon up, baloon pop, bird cage, exploding bomb, dust ball, and others), to a scene.

An artist's palette lets cartoonists paint objects using 16 colors. Other tools allow you to flip an actor horizontally or vertically or reposition the actor onscreen. Unfortunately, every time you make a selection from the Direct Actors (or any other) submenu, the program annoyingly returns you to the Main Workshop screen. You must reselect a particular icon for each edit or modification you want to make to a cartoon frame.

Animators build cartoons in the central portion of the Main Workshop screen. They select items (action, stages, and characters), frame transition effects, audio clips, and animation speeds and durations from special list boxes. For example, choose the stage icon from the Main Workshop screen and you can select a background for the current action or scene. Three stage options (mountains, desert, and snow) simulate animated movement when they appear onscreen. This is a handy illusion if you have an actor running or walking.

A Film Slider (filmstrip icon) at the bottom of the screen makes it possible to move through the cartoon (forward or backward) one frame at a time. You can save individual picture frames to disk as LBM files (DeluxePaint compatible) or print them. Cartoon files automatically save in a FILMS subdirectory of the Cartoon Workshop directory with either a CM1 (Master mode) or CJ1 (Junior mode) extension.

A special archive feature called Demo Version allows you to save a runtime version of your cartoon so that it can be viewed by individuals who don't own a copy of Cartoon Workshop. You'll need a blank, formatted disk with 200K of available free space. Unfortunately, Demo only works with disks placed in drive. A, meaning you won't be able to take advantage of the extra space available on 3 1/2-inch floppies if they insert in drive B.

Cartoonists who design their animations in Junior mode (the program default) have limited customizing options. For example, the Effects menu (for setting the number of frames in a scene, adjusting action speed, selecting screen transitions, or adding sound) isn't available. In addition, youngsters can only build cartoons consisting of a single scene.

Animators who design cartoons in Master mode (invoked by toggling the F5 key) have more tools at their disposal thanks to the Effects menu. In addition, they can build longer, more complex cartoon animations consisting of different sets of actors and multiple scenes. You can't display or modify in one mode cartoons that are created in the other mode.

The Bugs Bunny Cartoon Workshop offers good value for your money. It's elegant and affordable, and the whole family can enjoy this product. Instead of passively watching Saturday morning television, you now have the tools to create and show original computer animations complete with audio effects and speech bubbles.