The Wonderful World of Animation

When I first began looking for animation programs, I was looking for easy.  I needed a simple but effective program to put together videos relatively quickly.

I am in no way a technical person so when I say I needed easy, I speak the truth.  The problem was that many of the more elementary ones were exactly that…elementary.  They were for kids.  I needed a program that would allow for plenty of creativity but that would do so on a level I could grasp.

I found a lot of crummy programs but found some really good ones too.  I am not opposed to trying them out with a free trial but I don’t really like to.  Plus, there are always watermarks and stipulations so I prefer just to take my chances as a rule.  Needless to say, I wasted a good bit of money on finding my favorites.

Something to note before beginning the search is that there are 2D and 3D variations.  The difference is, of course, dimensions.  Another difference is that 3D uses digital modeling while 2D relies on the onion tool function.  2D is the easiest, in my opinion at least.  But sometimes you may have something in mind that only the use of 3D dimensions will rightly portray.

Another thing to think about is your purpose for the production.  If you are using it for your own personal use, your options will be broader for some programs.  If you are planning to use it for commercial use, be sure to check out the policy regulations regarding such.

Muvizu is a pretty good program to get a feel for making animation videos.  You’ll definitely know if animation is up your alley or not.  When I downloaded the free version, I used it and really liked it but that’s where it ended.  You can obtain a license to use it commercially or “rent” the rights on a month-to-month basis but that wasn’t for me.

Toon Boom is another program I like.  It offers both 2D and 3D.  Toon Boom Studio is one of the best, I think.  Anime Studio Pro is awesome.  It has great bone/inverse kinematics tools that make for realistic movements and also features a fantastic lip sync tool too.

Gotta say thought that Reallusion with Crazy Talk and IClone wins, hands down, in my book.  It’s a world all its own.  What I like is that there are all different types and levels of programs to choose from all under the same roof.  Many of them you can use together or add on to.  They even offer anime characters.

I started with Crazy Talk which is pretty simple but made for some pretty cool ads I created.  The program allows character heads to talk.  You can use the models that come with it, purchase kits to make others or you can use any photo you have for a totally original character.  It has super easy technology where you place points on certain facial spots in order to make the lip sync and expression look more real.  But, for me, a talking head can only go so far.

I then purchased the IClone Crazy Talk Animator 2 that allows for full characters who can interact.  Like the original Crazy Talk, you can use text-to-speech, record your own voice or even order a professional voice to put on it.  It took some time before I felt I had this program mastered but I sure like what all I can do with it and its business friendly too.

IClone has some very innovative programs.  Some are rather complicated and some just look complicated.  That’s what I like is using one that isn’t difficult but looks as if it is.  You can use pre-set facial features and movements or you can create your own.  There are programs for real life footage like Newsroom and you can add in special effects and props.  There is also a very innovative add on to the animated programs where you can make gestures and movements with your own body that will cause your animation character to mimic you on the cartoon.  Now, that’s my kind of technology!

The world of animation is a wonderful one. The more I learn about it, the more I want to learn so I can unleash more and more of my imagination as only animation allows me to do.