Wa­com’s Cin­tiq Com­pan­ion

Animation Magazine - - Visual Effects Tech Reviews -

As any­one who has fol­lowed me knows, I love me some Wa­com tech­nol­ogy. I don’t even use mice any­more. What is a mouse? I was so ex­cited about the an­nounce­ment of the Cin­tiq Com­pan­ion, I could hardly con­tain my­self. But my in­ner child and my ra­tional adult are con­flicted…

The Cin­tiq Com­pan­ion is a Win­dows 8 tablet ge­net­i­cally mixed with a 13” Cin­tiq. You get all the 2K pres­sure sen­si­tiv­ity and re­sponse as a land­locked Cin­tiq, with the ben­e­fit of porta­bil­ity. There is enough on­board drive space and RAM to get through most tasks that you may have to tackle while on the move, with lots of ports for in­ter­faces. And the thing is pretty.

I man­aged to whip out some con­cept art in Sketch­Book Pro. Then I drew up some sto­ry­boards by tak­ing shots with the built-in cam­era and draw­ing on top. Corel and ArtRage be­have glo­ri­ously with the pen pres­sure and an­gle—un­like Pho­to­shop (cough, cough). And I let a fel­low artist, Ja­cob Shroades, play with ZBrush, and he for­got to eat lunch be­cause he lost him­self in the process sit­ting back on the couch and sculpt­ing. And watch­ing Net­flix and Hulu on the Com­pan­ion is a bril­liant ex­pe­ri­ence.

The down­sides for me are that it lacks what Mi­crosoft in­sid­ers re­fer to as “la­pa­bil­ity,” mean­ing that when work­ing on the go, it isn’t par­tic­u­larly con­ducive to what Cin­tiqs are best for: draw­ing and sculpt­ing. Pro­fes­sional artists have their work­flows, which gen­er­ally in­clude con­stantly us­ing key­strokes to mod­ify or change tool func­tion­al­ity. With­out that key­board, one loses a lot of their ef­fi­ciency. The Com­pan­ion has cus­tom­iz­a­ble but­tons like its big brothers, but it’s just not enough for some­thing like ZBrush. To al­le­vi­ate that, Wa­com does sell a por­ta­ble Blue­tooth key­board, but even with a key­board, I found it cum­ber­some to get com­fort­able enough to work in the field.

My take­away is that I love the tablet. It’s Wa­com, what’s not to love? I’m not sure, off the top of my head, how to get over the “la­pa­bil­ity,” out­side of “don’t work on your lap,” and the equip­ment is ex­pen­sive. But, I’m a pro­fes­sional artist and my needs jus­tify the cost of three times that of a Sur­face or an iPad.

This may also be the case for most Cin­tiq users, who will prob­a­bly jump all over it. For those just get­ting into the race, the cost of en­try may be daunt­ing, and the more ra­tional choice would be to in­vest in a 21” or 24” desk­top Cin­tiq, make cool art like a boss and then use the pro­ceeds to add the Com­pan­ion to the toolset. Price: $2,499 Web­site: wa­com.com

Todd Sheri­dan Perry is a vfx su­per­vi­sor and dig­i­tal artist who has worked on nu­mer­ous fea­tures, in­clud­ing LOTR: The Two Tow­ers, Speed Racer, 2012 and Fi­nal Desti­na­tion 5. You can reach him at todd@tea­spoon­vfx.com.

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