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Creating Quality Animation Is Now Within Anyone's Reach

Apr 24, 2008
Animation is an art form that is loved by many. However, it is not an art form that many could enjoy creating. There is a need for not only artistic talent, but complex audio and video equipment, and fairly large teams of creators. Even with those elements in place, creating traditional quality animation was still lengthy and hard work. Just think, every second of screen time required 25 to 30 separate drawings.

These days, computers have made the animated playing field much more even. Now anyone with an idea can create an animation of considerable quality, in a lot of cases for little or even no money, and a lot less time. With a computer and the proper software creating 2D or 3D animation is very much a reality.

Let's take a look at some of the software available, both low cost and free, for 2D and 3D animation.

2D Software

There are many programs on the market for creating 2D animation. Some require drawing out scenes like traditional animation, and some use cut-out animation, which is more like working with puppets. Unlike traditional animation where everything was hand drawn frame by frame then filmed, today computer animation programs allow for tweening. This means you can draw or position two scenes on a time line, and the computer fills in the frames in between. This makes creating an animation much faster.

Let's focus on two of the more popular programs here. Toon Boom and E-frontier Anime Studio. Toon Boom allows for cut-out animation, but the real strength is the ability to draw frames as in traditional animation. Anime Studio on the other hand is a cut-out animation powerhouse, allowing the animator to rig and manipulate characters with an internal bone structure and vector graphics directly in the timeline.

Depending on your personal style, there is not much you can't create with these products. They both offer different price levels for introductory versions and the full featured versions and both are also used by professional animation studios. Introductory versions start around $50 and go from there.

But, maybe that is still too expensive. Well there is good news as there are many free options to create 2D animation as well. Creatoon was once a competitor for Anime studio in the cut-out animation field, but the producers stopped development of the software. The good news is they left the final version for download free of charge. They no longer support the product, but there are many online tutorials that show how to create animation with Creatoon. This is not a second rate product, but a very powerful tool and a real bargain.

3D Software

Here is where things get fun. The trend in animation is 3D CGI, with studios like Pixar leading the pack. The software used can get prohibitively expensive, such as Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max, and Pixar Studio's own Renderman. 3ds Max alone is just under $4000.

But, there are many cheaper, or even free alternatives.

E-frontier not only makes Anime Studio for 2D work, but they also make Poser, which is a 3D character program that allows for character creation and animation. Poser costs around $250.

There are even cheaper options. For around $200, you can get Reallusion iClone. This program is very powerful as it not only allows for custom character creation, but is also a 3D virtual movie studio complete with motion control, lip synching, 3D sets and props, and full camera control. You can make a full movie inside this one program. It even comes with stock motions for characters that can be used until comfortable with the program.

Even $200 is a bit much for some burgeoning producers, so how about free? This is where Movie Storm comes in. This bit of free software shares a lot of features with iClone. You can make full movies, but you are limited to the characters, props, and sets that come with the program and have a bit less control over the 3D environment. Other than that, this is a very powerful tool to create 3D animated movies.

So there is a brief overview of the programs to help you break into animation, without breaking the bank. The great thing about the programs above is that they are not toys, but powerful animation systems. All can produce high quality animation and bring stories to life.

It is fun and rewarding to make films, so give animation a try. Everyone has stories to tell, but not everyone has a studio behind them. Now, that no longer matters. With video sharing sites like Youtube, you can create your movies and share them with the entire world. So get animating!

Finding the titles in the article is just a quick web search away.
About the Author
Internet marketing guru Ryan Even has been experimenting with using animation and video in his internet marketing. Read more about how to Succeed In Internet Marketing...
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