Toon Boom Storyboard Pro is a digital storyboarding software application tailor-made for professional storytellers.

Nine times out of 10, the difference between a good film and a great film will come down to the pre-production phase. Meticulous preparation is the key to a successful shoot, with a detailed storyboard one of the most essential ingredients.

To this end, Toon Boom Animation has developed Toon Boom Storyboard Pro; a digital storyboarding application tailor-made for professional storytellers. It allows you to draw visual representations of shots from the ground up, as well as animate key sequences.

(For traditionalists, Toon Boom Storyboard Pro also lets you scan in your own pictures and drawings.)

Toon Boom Storyboard Pro will mostly suit independent filmmakers who want a fast and cost-effective way to plan their shoots, as well as storyboard artists looking for a streamlined transition into the digital era. Naturally, it will also double as a great presentation tool when pitching ideas to financial backers.

Despite being handicapped with a silly name, Toon Boom has earned a respected pedigree in the 2D animation industry; with the recent Simpsons movie largely created using the company's advanced software. With that being said, Toon Boom Storyboard Pro is very much a pre-production tool designed for conceptual purposes; those looking for a fully-fledged animation program would be better off looking elsewhere.

Using Toon Boom Storyboard Pro is a relatively simple affair for anyone versed in cinema language. Veterans of Adobe Flash and After Effects will find the interface vaguely familiar, although the tools on offer (and the ways you use them) are actually quite different. Thankfully, the included manual is well laid out and easy to understand, allowing you to quickly get your head around the basics.

The Toon Boom Storyboard Pro storyboard layout is made up of Shots (the main frame in a shot) and Panels (additional frames, when applicable, in the same shot).

A variety of notations can be added to each frame, with dedicated text fields for dialogue, action notes and technical comments. You can even record audio from within the program and then sync it to your storyboard sequence. This is an incredibly useful feature when it comes to electronic distribution, as it allows you to add detailed descriptions or music/FX. (Completed storyboards can be exported in a variety of different movie formats, as well as PDF files.)

When it comes to creating a panel, Toon Boom Storyboard Pro comes equipped with a host of innovative drawing tools, including ink, crayon and airbrush modes for achieving different styles.

NEXT PAGE: compatibility, features and our expert verdict > >

For the latest games and home entertainment news and reviews visit Digital World.