HBO’s “Animals” trailer

Here’s a trailer for the upcoming HBO series Animals from Starburns Industries (who also make Ricky and Morty for Adult Swim). The animation reminds of first season of Archer (which got better after the third season) but the jokes are humorous and it seems to have a good voice cast. I’ll definitely watch it!

Here’s a great sum up from Peter Sciretta’s review over at Slashfilms

Animals might be the weirdest, craziest, most interesting television show in a long time. The new HBO show feels like someone took a funny clever animated short film from the Sundance Film Festival and adapted it into a television series. The result feels like nothing else on television.

You can read the entire review here.

Animals, a new comedy from Duplass Brothers Television, premieres February 5 at 11:30/10:30c on HBO.

Reviews- Thinkpad Yoga 14 and Surface Pro 4


By Jason Kruse

Thinkpad Yoga 14:
I wanted to love both the Thinkpad Yoga 14 and the Surface Pro 4. I really did but unfortunately, both fell short.

I can only do a micro-review on the Yoga because, frankly I didn’t keep it long enough to do a full-blown review. First, the good:

It’s very affordable at around $1099 (and I had a 10% Movers Coupon at BB + $100 off for the holidays so it came to $899). It has a small Wacom pen built-in to the lefthand side which uses Wacom’s new AES technology. Plus, unlike a lot of the other new Wacom pens, it’s rechargeable when you place it back into its silo. Big, bright 14” screen with a number of viewing modes (laptop, tent, tablet, etc—though I generally draw in plain old laptop mode to easily hit the shortcut keys) and it was very solidly-built.

And now the bad which caused me to return it. First, Adobe apps tend to run at the wrong scale on the screen. They’re tiny but with a tweak to the program files, it was fixed. Annoying but not a deal-breaker.

There were, however, two showstoppers for me which rendered it fairly unusable for me. There’s a bug, I believe with the new Wacom tech, which makes only around half the pen strokes in Adobe Illustrator register. I’ve heard there’s a fix coming but I had too much work to do and couldn’t wait. The other—and this one really drove me crazy—was the touchpad. For some reason Lenovo made the decision to switch from Synaptics to Elan for their touchpad. At first I thought I could deal with it but the more I used it the more it drove me crazy. The cursor had a tendency to jump all over the place, the “right click” function would pop up when I was on left side of the pad and randomly while I was working. It drove me crazy. Even after I updated the drivers when it was suggested on the tablet forums they could help. I thought I could deal with it but after 4 nights of practically screaming, it went back.



Surface Pro 4:
Now, onto the Surface Pro 4. It’s such a gorgeous, powerful and well-built machine. I’ve also been rooting for someone (n-trig in this case) to take on Wacom successfully. It was so very close this time. So, so close but no cigar.

So, the model I’d gotten was the Surface Pro 4, core i-7 with 8gb of RAM. I also bought the Type Cover (which I still think should come standard). The kickstand is nice but I bought a case from Amazon which rendered it useless. I also bought the extra set of nibs that change the hardness or softness of the pen tip.  And, unless you like the feel of drawing on very smooth glass, get a screen protector with some tooth. I got one from Photodon which  made it feel similar to my Cintiq at work.

My first thoughts were that the display was stunning, the digitizer was  responsive and all the programs I installed ran quickly and at the right resolution. It’s easy to pair the pen and holding the eraser button down launches OneNote (which I never use but it’s nice for those who do).  I’ve heard that older versions of Adobe have the same difficulty as I’d had on the Lenovo where certain apps run way too small but CC installed just fine. I was shocked at how much power they crammed into such a lightweight machine. It’s truly impressive.

Now, onto more specifics.

First up, the pen. I have mixed feelings on it, honestly. At first it seems like a really nice piece of hardware. It’s built of the same metal as the computer itself and this time has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity whereas the Surface Pro 3’s pen had 256. Normally, I’ve found that increasing levels of pressure sensitivity is akin to increasing megapixels in cameras—it’s the law of diminishing returns—but in this case it’s noticeable. Even better, the Surface App (downloadable from the Microsoft Store) enables you to adjust the sensitivity curves which really helps particularly with initial activation force on the pen. Basically, that means if you want to you can put down more “ink” with less pressure or vice versa. It’s really personal preference. The pen nibs are also a very cool option but I think most people will prefer the standard nib it comes with which they say is HB. Honestly, none really feel like a true pencil but I have yet to try a stylus that does. One really cool thing is that the eraser does feel like an actual eraser. Oddly, I’ve found when I’ve used various tablets I rarely turn the pen over to erase. I usually just hit the eraser tool. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, there’s no pressure sensitivity with the eraser. Not sure why Microsoft did this.

Now, while the pen is a step forward from the Surface Pro 3’s version, it still fell short for me. For one thing, though the metal is premium, it’s actually too heavy. I like some weight but this was too much. Another thing I hadn’t noticed while at the store was that because the pen is not circular (it’s edged) around, it started to dig into my fingers. I’d say within an hour it felt like I’d been drawing all day. My fingers got sore and it was fairly annoying. A rubber grip of some kind would’ve been helpful. Most of my fellow professionals think I’m crazy but I never use the side buttons on my tablet pens. I have a nasty habit of accidentally hitting them so unfortunately I can’t comment on how good they are. Apparently, you can customize them now too which is nice.

I spent most of my time sketching with Manga Studio which has usurped Photoshop for me, personally. A common complaint with the Surface Pro 3 was the strange jitter that inking using the N-Trig pen caused, particularly when going slowly. A number of reviewers have stated that while it’s been mostly alleviated, it’s still there. I can confirm it. I found sketching quickly to be okay but when I went to final inks I found it very difficult to get the line-quality I wanted. Even with Manga Studio’s “line stabilization” feature, I didn’t care much for it. It felt like it took more effort to get the line to look the way I wanted. Maybe I ‘m just too used to Wacom. For me it was a step up from the Pro 3’s pen but it’s still not there.

Another strange thing that N-trig does is it leaves strange “tails” on the end of the line. I’ll see if I can find a pic (forgot to take a screen cap, sorry) but it kept bugging me the more I used it. It happens in both Photoshop and MS. Hopefully, N-trig is working on the problem. I will say N-trig has better “edge accuracy” than Wacom’s EMR tech so that’s a plus.

One thing I absolutely loved and hated to give up was the Type Cover. It’s so vastly improved from its previous incarnation. I really have no complaints about it. It was responsive and nice and “clicky”.

As I said earlier, the screen was gorgeous and I didn’t miss going from my 13.3” Fujitsu t901 screen to the Surface’s 12.3”. Oddly, the glass is so thin that it kind of “bends” while you’re drawing on it. I believe it’s Gorilla Glass and I tend to have a heavy hand when drawing so I really don’t think anyone’s in danger of breaking it easily.

I was also very impressed how cool the machine managed to stay. I mean, it gets fairly warm but not uncomfortably so. The speakers also seemed to be loud and clear so that was nice and my bluetooth headset paired easily with it.

The final reason I decided to return the unit though was Adobe Illustrator—it had a similar issue/bug to  Wacom’s AES tech. It was only registering half my pen strokes. I thought that maybe it was the screen protector but it turned out not to be the case, unfortunately. It seemed to be only the pen tool though. I looked into it more but there doesn’t seem to be a fix. So, between this issue and the others I’ve mentioned I decided that as nice as the Surface is it’s just not there yet. Not for me, at least. I know a number of other professionals using it may disagree but it just wasn’t for me. Maybe the next iteration will fix my complaints. I know I’m hoping so but right now it’s simply too expensive a purchase to wait beyond the return window I had for fixes.

One bug I encountered that is apparently something with Windows 10 and not exclusively the Surface line is that the MS Store App wouldn’t open. I found a number of work-arounds but ultimately to get it working again I had to do a reset that kept my files but forced me to re install my programs. On the plus side, I didn’t encounter any blue screens or sleep bugs that I’ve read about.

Surface Pro 4



The Surface Pro 2 from an Animator’s perspective

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The Surface Pro 2 from an Animator’s Perspective

I’ve been drooling over the Surfaces since Microsoft first announced them and have been lurking in the shadows quietly studying reviews and feedback and during all of it I NEVER once heard whether Adobe Flash worked with the device. Or Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. Or Harmony for that matter. Even the apparent Go To Site for all things Surface; has been oddly silent about this. I figure it’s just simply that animators have just not bought the device yet and that’s the reason.

Sooo… I decided to buy one and find out for myself how well this thing works from an animator’s perspective.

So here we go.

The Hardware
First off let me say it’s an AWESOME piece of tech! It’s sturdy, light and feels good in your hand on the way to Starbucks or lunch for some freelance… (something I do with regularity). And MAN is the thing FAST! I don’t know what Microsoft did under the hood here folks, but it’s not like your normal laptop or tablet. Programs open in mere seconds which is startling at first. Installing Toon Boom Storyboard Pro took less than a minute and Adobe Flash which is an absolute pig when it comes to installing (as is really ANYTHING Adobe) installed in under 4 minutes which is quite an achievement in my book. I’m quite sure some of that has to do with the large 256 gb SSD drive I got with it as opposed to the typical 64gb drive the cheaper model comes with. I also have 8gb of memory in there too which helps. So let’s just say it’s FAST.

Also, I don’t know about you but I personally like to draw at more of a flat angle and not so upright as many do. But trying to draw with the tablet completely flat also is too much of an angle for me to be happy either (What can I say, I’m complicated). Anyway, years ago I found this cool laptop wedge called The Allsop Cool Channel platform for my old LE1600 which angled the tablet just perfectly for me to draw.

Allsop Cool Channel Platform

The Allsop Cool Channel Platform for Laptops

I started using that with my Surface Pro 2 and it works well also but of course I then have to disconnect the keyboard and if you’ve ever used Photoshop, Flash or Storyboard Pro without a keyboard you know it’s much more difficult. Suddenly I realized that I could actually keep the keyboard connected and if I left the kickstand open anyway it sat at the perfect angle with the Allsop Wedge to keep my keyboard AND the tablet connected together which no other tablet has been able to do! Also by the way I don’t think the Surface Pro 3 would be able to do this because the Kickstand has many more angles and it would likely fold over form the weight of my hand. the more limited angles of the Surface Pro 2’s kickstand actually ends up working to my advantage!


My perfect angle for animating!

My one and only pet peeve on the build of the device goes to the complete IDIOT who decided that the charge adapter should be a magnet connecting to the device as opposed to an actual plug that’s inserted. Clearly this fool never actually uses a tablet. I mean COME ON! If you don’t know what I’m referring to the Surface Pro 2 does not have your typical AC jack with the hole in the side of the tablet. Instead, some ‘genius’ and I use that term loosely, decided “Hey that plugging in and out all the time is SO much work, let’s just make it a magnet instead, shall we?” So they did. And it does exactly that, it snaps easily to the side of the tablet. Problem is, that it also PULLS OUT easily as well and quite often unplugs if you’re, oh I don’t know… USING THE DEVICE! I swear, why don’t people test these things out first? Not only that but it’s damn near impossible to attach the cord to the tablet without picking it up, looking at the hole and then connecting it because it’s also at an odd angle and you can’t really connect it while it’s propped up on a table. I know that Apple does this magnet thing as well on their MacBook Pros but they must hold a patent on using a strong enough magnet to stick because my Surface Pro 2 disconnects when I sneeze.



Surface Pro’s charger cord



That five dot hole is where the Surface Pro 2’s cord connects to…

Anyway, other than this flaw the Surface Pro 2 is built quite well as far as I can tell.


Since, I bought the device I also grabbed a better keyboard for it called the Surface Type Cover which has a plastic trackpad instead of the ‘pleather’ trackpad my original keyboard had. What was Microsoft thinking?!?!



Original keyboard



The new keyboard. It may be hard to tell from these pics but the new trackpad is FAR more responsive.

Okay, then moving on…

I’ve read about people having issues with the high resolution screens and Adobe apps like Photoshop having squiggly jagged lines and Flash only drawing straight lines instead of curvy ones. I have not had that problem and only the largest Photoshop brushes cause it to lag for a heartbeat which in all fairness happens on my desktop sometimes. there is no drawing lag in Flash. Even Storyboard Pro which is usually pretty processor intensive performed very well using both the vector brushes AND the newer bitmap brushes. No lag whatsoever while drawing. I recently finished up a 500 page board using Storyboard Pro (on my desktop) and the file opened very quickly and flipping through panels was every bit as fast as on my desktop.

All in all everything I threw at the Surface Pro 2 performed admirably.  Even Maya, Mudbox and Z-Brush preformed admirably on it. Also, it was fairly easy to animate on it using Sketchbook Pro’s Flipbook timeline as well. I animated the quick pencil test below on my Surface Pro 2.

In fact for pure drawing? The Surface Pro 2 performs more than admirably! It’s perfect. The pen glides nicely on the glass, it has a little pull and there is absolutely zero lag as I sketch. It’s fantastic and if that’s all I judged a tablet on this would be a clear win.

But it’s not…

Hacking the Screen
Coming in at only 10″ the Surface Pro’s screen size is actually smaller than a sheet of Letter size Paper (8.5 x 11) to draw on which isn’t so bad on paper but then when you add all the toolbars and floating palettes there’s not so much room to draw upon!  That’s okay I guess because with collapsing palettes and whatnot, you can work around it. What IS harder is the high DPI screen that makes apps TINY and particularly anything Adobe. The resolution is SO high on *Photoshop and Flash I couldn’t even SEE the menus. And when I say I can’t see them I literally CAN’T see them. I had no idea what frame I’m on and couldn’t even see the Preferences palette to swap out a frame in a symbol. Yes, I know Flash inside and out and so I could pretty much run blind, but it was still REALLY hard to see.  Check out the example.


Adobe Flash on the Surface Pro 2

Tiny huh? Remember this is on only a 10″ screen about the size of your mouse pad, so it’s REALLY hard to see. That said, there is a hack that let’s you uprez the interface on high DPI screens which works flawlessly and makes Flash (and any other app) usable again! All that said, hacking the registry can cause other problems and while this particular hack is really easy to pull off, you could still brick your computer if you do it wrong, so unless you like to tweak software the Surface Pro still isn’t for you. Check out this example of after the screen hack below:

Flash with Hack

Flash Pro with the High DPI Manifest Hack

Much better if not a little cramped. Storyboard Pro works with this fix as well, but I did find that the new Flash CC 2015 (which has it’s own problems anyway right now) sadly does NOT work with this hack yet. Other programs like Premiere and Illustrator works too. I have an email to my friends at Adobe to see if they can do something similar to what the *Photoshop team did to address the high DPI issue.


A bit of art I did on the Surface Pro 2 using Storyboard Pro.

A bit of art I did on the Surface Pro 2 using Storyboard Pro.

Software that works
Sketchbook Pro
Photoshop-(works well with Adobe’s zoom preference)
Flash-(requires manifest hack to see well.)
Illustrator-(requires manifest hack to see well.)
Premiere-(requires manifest hack to see well.)
Audition-(requires manifest hack to see well.)
Storyboard Pro-(requires manifest hack to see well.)
Autodesk Maya-(requires manifest hack to see well.)
Mudbox-(requires manifest hack to see well.)

Windows 8.1
But that, dear friends is the good stuff… now comes the bad, because in order to USE the Surface you need Windows 8.1 which is a giant piece of donkey doo. Yes, even though Microsoft has been trying like a little puppy to get you to like them with their happy-singy ads, talking about how you can dance on picnic tables AND use the Surface, Windows 8 is still a giant hunk of shit. It’s a HORRIBLE interface even on their OWN hardware designed FOR their software!

Case in point. You start up Sketchbook Pro and try to draw with it, but when you place your hand on the screen it causes your palm to also draw. Okay, no problem, disable the Touch interface right? Well Microsoft doesn’t WANT you to do that so they make it hard for you and so you have to go into the Device Manager and disable it. Luckily there’s a little app called Touch Toggle which sits in your System Tray and let’s you click it to enable touch and click again to disable touch. And therein lies the reason I use Windows. It’s hackable.



Touch Toggle On


Touch Toggle Off

Touch Toggle Off

See Microsoft? That wasn’t SO hard was it? I am left wondering WHY WOULD MICROSOFT BE SO STUPID!?!?!?!? Do they even USE their products before skipping them off to the shelves in a trail of flowers and rainbows? And if you’re not computer advanced like I am, you might not even know what the Device Manager is! Let alone how to make Touch Toggle start up each time with the system. Grandma sure won’t, so forget those commercials about how it’s easier than an iPad. Pffffff. And I don’t even LIKE iPads. Yes, I know here’s where some of you say “Get a Mac!” but see Dead Uncle Steve proselytized the Mac faithful that “No pen shall toucheth thy Macintosheth!” and so there IS no portable device with a Mac interface to draw on except the iPad which is akin to drawing with a crayon on a window pane made by Fisher Price. go ahead tell me about the $4000 Modbooks that use to exist. They don’t anymore so…


To Sum it All Up…
So at the end of the day, will I keep the Surface Pro 2? I’m honestly not sure yet… What I look for in a tablet is the ability to draw (and Sketchbook Pro does that admirably) and to write (and I can easily do that with Word and the surprisingly decent keyboard cover). I can even animate with it using either Flash or Harmony and if I choose to get an adapter, suddenly now I can add an external monitor to it as well making it much more powerful. I might also just get a Surface Pro 3 but I am leery of the N-Trig Digitizer as I have heard that it’s not the best and even messing aorund with it in the store left MUCh to be desirred. you’d think that Microsoft would put a decent drawing app on a tablet with a pen, but noooooooo.

Idiots, truly idiots.

Still they make a 12″ Surface Pro 3 AND you can even get it in an i7 so I may yet go down that road…

-Impressive speed and performance.
-Innovative design.
-Surprisingly comfortable keyboard.
-Literally ran anything I threw at it.
-Pressure sensitivity performed well.

-Text too small on all Adobe apps except Photoshop with out hacking.
-Screen size too small to do serious video editing or animation.
-Windows 8.1 still sucks ass.

*Adobe released Photoshop CC 2015 which automatically uprezzes the app for super high resolution screens but the screen’s menus are then too big for me and you endlessly scroll to get to the bottom of a menu.

Review: The Wacom Cintiq Companion

Hello and Welcome!  I am your “geeky artist gal pal” Val, and this is my first-ever tech review.  I’ll be covering the “Cintiq Companion”, a portable drawing tablet from every artist’s favorite tablet company, Wacom.


Wacom Cintiq Companion v.01

Wacom recently announced the release of the second version of the Cintiq Companion… the Companion 2.
Yay!  This announcement doesn’t surprise me one bit as I just bought the first version of this tablet a few months ago, without any hint of a new one coming out soon.  Ha ha, this is how things often work out for me!  However, from what I’ve read of the Companion 2, there are very few changes.  So I hope this review will help to cover the pros and cons of all models, and help you to decide if this equipment is the right investment for you!

I think I can safely say that if you are used to an iPad, or you primarily use Apple products, you will most likely not like the Cintiq Companion.  Maybe that goes without saying, for the following reasons:

  1. Available OS choices (Windows 8 or Android)

  2. Resolution and/or graphics sizes

  3. Size, especially weight of the machine (nearly 4 lbs vs. iPad Air 2 now under 1 lb).

I opted to try the Windows 8 Companion (as I am a life-long PC girl), and I will also discuss the OS a smidge.  The general buzz I’d heard about Win8 did not get my hopes up… (I even tried using an iPad out of fear I might hate the new Windows).  HOWEVER, I gotta say I have been quite astonished with Win8 overall – I’m more pleased with it than I thought I would be.  (Perhaps also in part to that iPad I tried to use for many months, which led me to nothing but artistic frustration and, er, too much gaming.)

Windows 8 App view vs. regular Desktop view

WacomCintiqCompanionScreenshotsApp View

WacomCintiqCompanionScreenshots2Desktop View

Right, so Win8 surpassed my expectations.  Yes, there is the “app” view, but on this tablet I can seamlessly transition to the normal “PC desktop” view as well.  I’ve found myself a little in-awe over this fact a few times, because it finally reaches that all-in-one device pinnacle.  (That is, if only Win8 had all the app options my smartphone does.)  There are some other small cons to the software I can point to… for example using the bluetooth.

<Start rant:  Bluetooth has become a necessity in smart devices.  In Win8 I SHOULD be able to just swipe open the sidebar menu, tap a button and blah-bling! insta-bluetooth.  Unfortunately on this device I have to swipe open the sidebar menu > Settings > Change PC Settings > PC and devices > Bluetooth.  From there I oftentimes find myself having to un-pair and re-pair my bluetooth, because there’s no click-to-use-this-device-button-even-though-it’s-already-paired-and-should-be-connecting-but-isn’t-for-some-strange-reason.  End rant.>

So yeah, Win8 is indeed a “mixed bag”.  For my purposes as a professional artist, it works rather nicely.  The experience is bolstered by touch-screen capabilities, like switching between apps with a swipe, split-screen-ing, or zooming in and out using your fingers (whee!).  I imagine if I were more ambidextrous, I would “play” this tablet like a turn-table DJ.

Oh, and of course the Win8 Companion runs FULL DESKTOP APPLICATIONS.

The Companion has no problems handling multiple layers in programs like Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro.

Like Photoshop.  Like Toon Boom’s Storyboard Pro.  Yes, I have drawn animatic sequences on my freakin’ tablet.  It is amazing, and there are only two things that I’ve noticed that I want to bring up in this regard.

Firstly, the original Cintiq Companion (as well as Wacom’s smallest desktop Cintiq the 13HD) display measures a paltry 13.3”.  This means that full program menus, graphics, and buttons, etc., show up teenie-weenie-tiny on the screen.  For someone that grew up playing a Sega Game Gear in the 90’s, this is a familiar feel, and rather un-phasing.

Unfortunately for those without handheld-gaming experience, and those of you used to a screen that’s, say, 21.5” +, this may be a deal-breaker.  The size of the menus can make it feel like you’re clicking for a needle in a haystack.  In all honesty, I would advise against purchasing one of these machines if you don’t feel like you can or want to compensate for tiny graphics.  I’ve never worked on a widescreen display, (for example the Cintiq 27QHD *drool*), but I imagine that transitioning to a small screen this size if you did would probably suck.

(Sidenote:  To cut-down on menu-clicking, I do find myself wishing for more than four “ExpressKeys” to which I could attach program shortcuts.  These are the buttons beside the screen on the left, accompanied by the “Rocker Ring” and “Windows Button”.  Wacom has granted my wish in the Companion 2, which now has six “ExpressKeys” [see below].)


Wacom Cintiq Companion v.02

Speaking of “QHD”, this is one of the changes to the Companion 2, which features QHD resolution of 2560×1440, vs. HD of 1920×1080.  ← insert jaw-dropping googly-eyes here.

I don’t really need QHD to draw sketches of Harry Potter, but I imagine for painters it’ll be a dream….

Secondly, there’s the stylus pen, and how it interacts with the screen.  Which is, for the most part, un-remarkably like any of the other Wacom Cintiq models.  I have noticed with my Companion there’s occasionally an increased parallax effect…  that is, I notice the disconnect.  And then there is the way the stylus is calibrated (on purpose?) to work near the edges of the screen.  The cursor becomes seriously displaced.  Perhaps it’s to be able to access off-screen menus?  Regardless, it’s awkward.


Yay!  It’s a Cintiq pen!  The case is pretty sweet.  I dig it.


The pen itself is a regular style Cintiq pen, and comes in a very nice case with extra nibs and a nib-grabbing tool.  Oh, and a couple of “Personalization Rings”, should you be watching your pen more than the screen, or should anyone actually look at your pen close enough to notice the color accent.  *ahem*  Speaking of cases, the tablet itself comes with a great neoprene case, with a faux fur-like lining that definitely gives it a cozy home and soft cushioning protection.  Nice touch, Wacom.  However, when it comes to accessories, the accompanying display stand could definitely use a redesign.

You’d think it would be really neat because the idea behind it is fantastic – three different angled tiers to choose from, and I definitely make use of each angle.  However, the stand “attaches” to the tablet via “stand slots”.  Read: No locking mechanism.  There are small issues attached to this design – for example it falls off easily if you open it too far when attempting to stick it into the third-tier position, to put the display upright.


Taking a piece to finish.

Hmm, I think that about covers it!  Allow me to sum up by saying that the Cintiq Companion v.01 works, looks, and feels like a professional piece of equipment that is meant to get shit done.  Its functionality surpasses its awkwardness, and the ability to work this way from anywhere is worth the (approximately) $2k price tag for someone like me (pro artists).  I would not recommend it for hobbyists.

Finally, with the Companion 2, it looks as though Wacom has moved the power button position.  This is good news for right-handed artists using the ExpressKeys on the left side.  I personally find, with the original Companion, that I often grab the power button unintentionally.  It sticks out a bit (contrary to the photos on their website), so I end up accidentally putting it to sleep all the time.  FYI there is a way to turn this functionality off.

This change means that the Companion 2 has solved all of the Hardware issues I have encountered, making it more worth the price tag.  If you get one, I hope you enjoy it!!!

Cheerios!  – Val

OLD But GOOD Tech Thursday- Fujitsu T5010


Yet another brand new feature here on Animation Insider in the form of Old But Good Tech Thursdays!

Since Thursdays is traditionally Throw Back Thursdays #TBT anyway, I figure it’s a good day to showcase old technology that is still a good purchase for artists since there’s MANY great old tablets out there you can pick up for almost nothing these days. Each week will strive to post a new article  highlighting old computers and tablets from an artist’s perspective. If you would like to do a review of your favorite tablet or hardware, feel free to give us a shout!
Armed with a copy of Sketchbook Pro, these cheap old gems are still quite viable as a digital tool for the budding artist or old school paper and pencil animator looking to go digital. Even seasoned digital artists looking for a second device to put by the bed for that quick late night sketch might find these tablets useful.

Now granted, you’re not going to be running Storyboard Pro or Harmony on these because well truthfully the graphics card can’t handle it (but an old copy of Maya works fine) so it’s not for your main machine but it works perfectly well as a digital sketchbook at Starbucks or the park. Some of these even have View Anywhere Technology made specifically to view outdoors.  You can run Photoshop, Flash, Painter, and ArtRage on most of these, but Photoshop doesn’t always play nice for drawing on these old things, because it’s a pig. You can still edit with it and composite a piece easily enough.

That said, you don’t have to shell out thousands for the new Cintiq Companion or the Surface Pro to sketch digitally and you’re keeping these jewels off the junk heap which is better for our planet and who doesn’t want to help the earth?

That said, our first Old But Good Tech is the Fujitsu T5010 which can currently be purchased on eBay for $129 bucks and it will Windows 8.1 so it will likely run Windows 10!

Fujitsu T5010Fujitsu T5010
by Heather Martinez
(All art done on the Fujitsu T5010)

Have Fujitsu Lifebook T-Series…Will travel! And I do.  I travel a lot. I art a lot. I’m also a bit stingy when it comes to spending money, but I’ll grudgingly fork it over if the product meets my needs. About 5 years ago, I was looking into whether I wanted a Cintiq or just another portable tablet. I had burned though a Motion Computing Tablet, and a little 10.15” Fujitsu T4220 convertible tablet. At the time, there was no Cintiq Companion out, and my only choice in the Cintiq world would be to tote around a separate screen display attached to a laptop. No. Not when you do freelance illustration for a living and your life is always on the go.  Fujitsu had just come out with their T5010 series, which are also called  “swivel tablets.” No docking, no pulling apart your tablet and inserting it into a clunky keyboard, and no attaching a separate keyboard via USB nonsense. It’s a laptop with keyboard when you need it and a tablet when you need it.  You open it up, swivel it and fold it back for a tablet. The other thing I was looking for in a world where ALL the new tablets were touch screen only, was a Wacom enabled  tablet with digitizer pen input  ONLY. Fujitsu had it. The only down-side was that the digitizer pen that comes with the laptop is clunky, so I kept the slick one from Motion Computing. I still buy about 4 of those a year. They run about 45 bucks each, but are worth every penny.  The display had also grown up since my last Fujitsu model. The screen was 13.3”. Not bad for a tablet.


Windows 7 had come out, but I had read all the abysmal reviews and didn’t trust it. Now mind you, this was 5 years ago, but I purchased this Fujitsu T5010 for a whopping $ 3,000.00. I think it would have run me closer to $2,000, but I added a bunch of bells and whistles, like an extended battery, DVD RW,  a 500GB hard drive, upgraded to 4GB of RAM, etc.  Here I was, with a $3,000 dollar laptop running on old Windows XP.  I have run CS2 through CS6, Art Rage and Sketchbook Pro 2010. I’ve illustrated many a project on it, including 3 Golden Books, and it still runs like a champ.  The obvious problems with Windows XP began to emerge this past year.  Running on a 32-bit system when all the new cool stuff is run on 64 bit systems was beginning  to become a hindrance.  The countdown to computer crash was on. With luck, I might be fine continuing my Illustration work, but if I wanted to install, say, Storyboard Pro, I couldn’t.  So, about 6 months ago, I started my quest for newer and better. The Cintiq Companion came out, and I thought my search was over. I was juggling several projects and in the middle of a move, so I put it buying a 2,500.00 computer on the back-burner. Until last week, when my 40 lb. dog sat on my T5010 and cracked the screen.  Don’t ask.


AAAAGGHHH! So, I’m in the middle of a HUGE project with a tight deadline, and my Fujitsu has a long hairline fracture running horizontally across my work space. Thank God the laptop still functions, but what on earth am I going to get to replace this thing if it doesn’t hold out?  I don’t have time to deal with a whole new interface and waiting for a new Cintiq to arrive just wouldn’t do.  I jumped on Ebay and found the old and familiar Fujitsu T-series. The difference? They are now all listed at UNDER 300 bucks! The other difference? I found a more updated 64-bit, with 4GB of RAM that had Windows 8 already installed! The guy was apologetic that it DIDN’T have touch-input. Thank heavens, no touch input! He also apologized that it didn’t come with a digitzer pen.  Again, no loss.  In all, I paid $260.00 to replace and upgrade my old pal. The hard drive only has about 300GB, but I have a husband that can replace it with a much bigger one when my big project is over. There is, of course, no amount of value that can be placed on having a techie friend, or husband, for that matter.


You’ll want to install the Wacom driver that is available on their website so all your programs have good pen pressure sensitivity. If you want to buy new, Fujitsus will last forever…Unless of course, your furry friend sits on it. But I must warn you that new Fujitsus are expensive, and their tech support was and is pretty bad.  (I wanted to know if some of their newer tablets would allow me to disable the touch screen option and just allow for digi pen input and they had no clue.) The other down-side is that Fujitsus have notoriously clunky fans that start to sound like a rock in a blender as they get older. They eventually need to be replaced. I’d be happier running on an SSD, but sometimes you can’t have it all.


Review: Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness

Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Reviewed by Melissa Milo

America’s favorite squad of sleuths team up once more in a new original movie, Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings you an animated feature that is sure to be loved by any age group, holds an entertaining plot, and even has a couple celebrities within the cast.

The film begins with the whole gang- Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne- winning the last five seats in a lottery to join billionaire, Sly Baron (played by regal-voiced actor, Malcolm McDowell) aboard his brand new ship, The Sly Star One to descend into space along with a handful of other lottery winners. It’s all fun and games until a supposed alien begins to destroy parts of the ship and the crew is forced to land on Sly’s base, which is built on the dark side of the moon. The entire premise of the plot is set on Scooby-Doo and the Gang figuring out how to stop this alien… if it even is a real alien.

With surprisingly sharp wit and droll comedic timing, Moon Monster Madness is a movie that children especially would not want to miss. The great part about this film is that adults will most likely enjoy it as well. The famed movie Alien from 1979 is given a nod several times within the story. For example, the suspicious AI robot that the audience isn’t too sure they can trust, is mimicked in one character, and the design of the alien that chases the crew is very similar to that of Ridley Scott’s. This gives the film a certain je ne se quoi that provokes older audience members to get interested in the plot. In addition to this, more mature viewers may appreciate that Matthew Lillard, the same actor who played Shaggy in the live-action take on the Scooby-Doo franchise, plays the voice of Shaggy.

Another quality that one may notice is the character designs have not been changed. Unlike many other rebooted animated characters that have been around for years, Scooby-Doo and the Gang remain unmodified. This aspect successfully preserves the nostalgia Scooby-Doo movies bring to the table as well as the timeless charisma each protagonist possesses.

Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness is a piece of work that might quite possibly be underrated due to its going straight to DVD, however I am here to tell you all that this animated film should not be overlooked. It’s fun, silly, well acted, well written, and decently animated. If you have children, definitely scoop a copy of this up- and if you love Scooby-Doo, do the same thing.

Pencils-Scooby Doo Monster Madness

Here’s some bonus content for the DVD as well!

and another one…