Animation is a beloved and wonderful art form. Millions enjoy animated shorts, TV series, and full length movies. Animation also takes many forms. You have Stop Motion, Traditional Hand Drawn cell, Japanese and Japanese influenced Anime, 3d CGI, and more.
Even though many have loved and enjoyed watching animation over the years, creating animation has always been out of the reach of the majority. Think about traditional hand drawn or stop motion animation for a bit. Even with a large animating team and the proper audio and video equipment, a 30 minute show could take weeks, or even months to produce. One second of film would take 30 different hand drawn or repositioned frames!
Rumor has it that even the crude Short animated film, The Spirit of Christmas, that became South Park took creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone over a month to complete using construction paper.
Now, think about 3d animation. Not only did you need the artistic skills of traditional animation, but also the skills to model in 3d using complex software systems, and the powerful, expensive computer hardware to create the characters, 3d world, and the animation itself.
By now you may be wondering if the title of the article is wrong, and what I meant to write was animation is not for everyone and needs a tremendous budget. Stick with me for a bit more.
There are many reasons to get into animation. The creation of art, telling great stories, or even just creating shows for your own entertainment or kids to enjoy. Some of you may even be able to turn your animation into your work. And now, thanks to advances in software and computer power, animation is available in one form or another to anyone with a computer.
There are great software titles available now that can create just about any form of animation you like. From mimicking 2D cell animation to 3D CGI, there is a platform that can turn you into an animator. Other good news is that the price of some of these platforms is dropping to all time lows as ease of use is rising like never before.
Software for 2D animation, such as Anime Studio or Toon Boom, start at around $50 for lite versions, and go up to around $300 for full featured version used by many professional studios.
Software for 3D animation used to be very cost prohibitive. Industry standard programs like Auto Desk 3ds Max can run up to $4000! but, in the 3D world, there are now cost effective ways to create animation. Poser is a 3D character Creation tool and animator that runs around $200. Iclone by Reallusion gives user’s the ability to create custom characters, sets, animations, and lip sync, building full featured movies and runs under $200. With Iclone, you also do not need any specific 3D modeling knowledge, just your imagination and some great stories to tell.
All these programs can be found by running a web search on the titles.
You may still be thinking that these are a bit pricey, especially if you are not sure whether animation is something you want to create on a regular basis. Well, I have good news on this front as well. How about Free?
There are several programs, in both 2D and 3D, that create movies and shorts almost up to the standards of the above programs. You can bu up and running, creating terrific animations with the equipment you already have, in no time and with no additional expense. If you decide animation is for you, you can then upgrade to more complex systems.
After creating your animated masterpieces, how do you get it out to the world to enjoy, or for a potential future partner or employer to see? The computer, or in this case, the Internet is here to help yet again. With the rise of Youtube.com, Viddler.com, Ustream.com, and so many more sites that are started almost daily, you can put your creations up on the Internet for all to see for no extra cost over your Internet connection fees!
So, have I got your attention? Are you ready to animate the stories in your head? Well, there is a lot to talk about in the animated world, so I will have to break this topic up.
In future articles, I will be touching on 2D software, 3D software, storytelling, animated scene and camera work, how to write killer animated movies, how to create storyboards for your masterpiece, how to render your work for best results, and more!
Animation is extremely rewarding. I look forward to see what you create!
My next article will cover all the options for traditional styled cell and stop motion animation on the computer.
See you then.
Eban Crawford is a new media producer, heading Reaching for Lucidity Productions for Podshow Inc.
Reaching for Lucidity started as a music podcast in 2004, and was signed to contract with Podshow Inc. in 2006. There are now 5 RfL shows spanning audio, video, and animation series.
Reaching for Lucidity Animated Adventures tells the “true” story of the behind the scenes surreal world of new media and web 2.0. Fun, Fast, and just a bit naughty in the fun way, check out all the adventures of Eban and Senator Jaiz as they navigate this fantasy universe!
Reaching for Lucidity 2.0 is the pioneering music and variety podcast that started RfL Productions. Hosted by Eban and Senator Jaiz, this groundbreaking podcast features humor, social commentary, and the best music from the independent scene!