Today, 2d animation industry standard compositing tool is After Effects + PSoft plugins.[^1]
But AE is slow, doesn’t have nodes, no floating point color support…
I experimented with Natron and I think it is great. Have better FX, nodes, linear workflow, color spaces…
It is 20~30% better, yet it lacks some features. I will explain this later.
In modern 2d animation(mostly in Asia), cleaned-up drawings are scanned into computer. But they are not ‘clean’ data. There are dots, noises,… but most of all lines have blurry edges so it makes it harder to paint them. So scanned datas are ‘aliased’ and painted like this:
Painting aliased drawing is very simple. It is like using fill tool in MSPaint.
And this painted data is imported and AAd in compositing SW. (mostly AE) FXs are added before AA or after AA.
We can do the same in Natron with more accuracy and possibility. But there are some problems:
- Simple Color separation /keying
In 2d animation compositing, lot of tricks are used with non-AAd image. Specific colors are separated or erased and composited afterwards. Compositor can separate (255, 123, 123) and add bloom effect to only that color, AA it and re-composite it to original image. And almost always full-white color(255, 255, 255) is erased.
The problems are workaround is needed to separate color, and keying (to erase) only certain color is very confusing in Natron. Keyer nodes change original color and erase more than one colors. We need more simple method. Only one color at a time, no un-understandable parameters like gain or tolerance are needed.
- Invert Alpha
This is very important too.
- Blur between color to fake gradient
This effect is frequently used in animation. But I don’t see this feature in Natron.
Anyway I am not here to tell bad news. I am positive about Natron’s possibility. That said I am just making suggestion. If devs are interested in this, they might make features for 2d animation. If not, I can make plugins myself (only If I have enough time)
Different opinions are welcome!
[^1]: (In Japan and Korea. I don’t know much about how things are outside Asia)