Wednesday, January 27, 2010

...but can you draw on it?

So it's the iPad.

And it's exactly what I thought it was going to be. Basically this is what you'd get if an iPhone had a one night stand with a Kindle. At $500 it's affordable than what I thought so I may be getting one for the heck of it.

So now comes the interesting spectator sport that is; watching third party companies develop stuff for this new device. Personally I want to see what they come up with as far as drawing is concerned. A drawback could be the screen. Pressure sensitivity and stylus compatibility are two major challenges which could be offset by the quality of the simulation. If it's the same as the iPhone screen wise then they have an uphill climb.

As bulky and even low-tech as the Modbook is, (compared to the iPad of course) I know it was designed with a pen input and I can depend on it for art. As eagerly anticipated as the iPad was, it's not as big as my anticipation for the Moodbook Pro which will be the ultimate in portable workstations.


If you already own an iPhone, one great feature on the iPad is that you'll be able to run all your iPhone apps. This means drawing apps like iPaint or Sketchbook Mobile will enable you to use the screen to draw with either your digits or an input device such as the Pogo. That's great if you're Picasso or Van Gogh but when it comes to precise input control for drawing, it simply won't cut it.

It's pretty clear: The iPad is a mass consumer product much like any of Apple's products. As much as Apple computers dominate the graphic arts world, it is a very small percentage of Apple's market. That is the reason why companies like Axiotron are necessary in satisfying that small but niche market.


winos said...

Being a fellow Modbook owner, I completely agree with your thoughts, as I too was hoping for both stylus and touch capabilities, something Axiotron has promised (but has yet to deliver) with Synergy. My wish is that they would've released both a pro and consumer version, with the pro having stylus capabilities on a larger screen (speaking of screen, there seems to be a LOT of wasted real estate on the iPad with the large black borders).

Anyway, I too think the Modbook Pro will be the ultimate portable workstation, but I'm not so sure I'll be ponying up almost 5 grand for it. They'll have to work on bringing the price down closer to $3500 at the least. If Apple can sell their most expensive iPad model at well under $1000, Axiotron needs to rethink what they are charging to stay in business.

Louie del Carmen said...

The $5k price tag on the MBP is definitely a deal breaker. It's something I know the folks at Axiotron are very much aware of, and are debating about even as we speak.

Synergy is definitely promising especially because it incorporates both touch control and pen input via the digitizer. I'm confident Andreas and his team will deliver a fine product.

smackmonkey said...

At first I was hoping for a stylus as well but the processor is probably too slow for how fast some of us supply input when sketching. My first gen Modbook can lag a bit when I'm working fast but not to the point of being bothersome.

The tough thing for Axiotron is that they have to buy all that hardware from Apple and then trash it to make the Modbook Pro. I bet they could come up with a sweet SSD tablet design that would run OSX but they'd never be able to afford the legal bills once Apple started to sue.

I can't really justify the $5k price tag for a Modbook Pro either. Of course, once you have one you'd only have to buy the Macbook Pro portion every few years to upgrade the Axiotron product. Spreading out the cost over ten years worth of Macbooks might take the sting out of the initial upgrade cost.

David Nethery said...

This is what I expected it to be: a larger, more sophisticated iPod Touch. A little disappointed (hoping for a true tablet Mac) , but not surprised.

No pressure sensitivity is the deal breaker on the iPad for me. No sale. (also because it runs iPhone OS , not Mac OS, so I can't run my applications like TVPaint , ArtRage, or good ol' Photoshop.) The iPhone app called "Brushes" is cool , and I'm sure the larger screen on the iPad will make Brushes all the more usable , but the lack of pressure sensitivity would still bother me. Casual sketching with "Brushes" is fine, but I need something like my main standby TVPaint for my storyboarding and animation work.

I've heard good things about the POGO stylus. What is it like to draw with the POGO stylus on the iPhone? Obviously it gives you more control over a line than your finger, but it still doesn't simulate having pressure sensitivity , right ? So ... not as good as a Wacom enabled pen tablet for serious drawing or painting.

My fear for Axiotron is that they now have an increasingly limited supply of spare parts to modify (the older Modbooks). With the Modbooks all unibody now will they be able to carry on much longer ? ( yes, there are thousands of Macbooks out there that could be modified, but most people are not going to want to pay premium prices for a "used" older computer. )

Modbook PRO prototype looks great , but the $5000 - $6000 (with extra RAM, larger HD, 3 year warranty) price tag limits their already limited market even more. For the convenience of being totally portable I'd pay as much for a ModBook PRO as the original 21" Cintiqs were going for ($2,500) , but that's about my limit.

I actually like the present Modbooks a lot. My son got one recently and he let me play around with it. I installed TVPaint on it and it works great on the Modbook. If I get money back on my taxes this year I may buy one, but it irks me that it's already a bit outmoded in terms of the processor speed and the graphics card compared to the newer unibody Modbooks.

I use a Cintiq at home, but would love to have the Modbook for the portability. I think I'm going to take the plunge. The iPad's debut has convinced me to stop waiting for Apple to produce a true tablet. It ain't gonna happen. What they're doing with iPad is wonderful , but people like me are not the target audience. Modbook is the only choice for the kind of work I do (hand-drawn digital storyboarding and trad. animation) .


smackmonkey said...

"Modbook is the only choice for the kind of work I do (hand-drawn digital storyboarding and trad. animation) ."

These are no problem on a Modbook (although I occasionally miss the smell of markers - heh) but I worry about the higher frame rate video. I get some choppiness on mine when I watch some of the high end stuff out there.

I know we have 1080p24 but will the viewing public start demanding 50 to 60 fps once they've gotten used to it on TV? If so that will be the end of traditional hand-drawn 2D animation.

David Nethery said...

"will the viewing public start demanding 50 to 60 fps once they've gotten used to it on TV? If so that will be the end of traditional hand-drawn 2D animation."

Interesting question.

I think with hand-drawn animation because what we're dealing with are in fact individual still drawings and the movement is an illusion anyway there is not much to be gained from animating drawings at 50 or 60 fps. I don't think it would make the animation look that much better or smoother . (and "smooth" is not always the best animation anyway ... we've all seen stuff that looked nice and snappy animated on 2's , but then got inbetweened on 1's and became all "mushy") .

Hmmmmmm ... I don't know . Just thinking out loud about that. Maybe I'm totally off base. My whole professional life has been so wrapped around the central concept of 24 frames per second that I don't know how to consider a different way.

I would think there would be some way to automatically interpolate the frames to run smoothly when viewed at 60fps , even if the original was animated at 24 fps.

But don't ask me I'm just a cartoonist.

smackmonkey said...

"(and "smooth" is not always the best animation anyway ... we've all seen stuff that looked nice and snappy animated on 2's , but then got inbetweened on 1's and became all "mushy")"

That tends to happen when plain old inbetweens are added to something originally animated on twos. The timing (hash marks) for animation of the same fast action on ones or twos bear little resemblance to each other.

To keep the snappiness you mention requires a lot more breakdowns on thirds, fifths, and even judgement calls from well trained assistants which way to favor differing parts of the subject being animated.

I love 2D animation and my Modbook was purchased mainly for this art form. Still, I wouldn't put it past the general viewing public to abandon it more and more as they are acclimated (educated is probably more correct) to more complex imagery. Too bad the same is not happening with subject matter/story line. Movies like Cameron's Avatar are unbelievably simple (dare I say stupid) at the story level but so visually imposing that it will likely become the new standard by which other films are judged.

Of course, a REAL visual storyteller may be able to surmount such obstacles. I saw Gilliam's Doctor Parnassus less than a week after seeing Avatar. Guess which film impressed me more.

cartoon.five said...

My hopes came to a sudden end the moment I watched the iPad presentation. Apple has gone from Pro to Con(sumer) long time ago. The iPad is NOT - and probably never will be - a creative device but rather one limited, glossy piece of hardware designed only to consume things you buy, of course from the apple store.

phoneappshome said...

Wondershare iDraft is gorgeous, and so are the notes or drawings you scrawl on it. The speed of your finger tracing across the pad of paper shows in the thickness of the ink. I love the presentation of the content/intro page, which is clean and simple (I love the chalkboard sketches of the pencil and trash can). Nothing distracts you from the tools and the blank note paper. The tools are very easy to access, very easy to select what you want, and I love that there's both an eraser and undo/redo buttons.

App Store link: