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Old April 12th, 2005, 02:09 PM   #1
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Animation - which program?

I "write" bedtime stories for my two little girls. I have a pretty strong background in vector graphics and in digital filmmaking, but I'm an absolute dunce when it comes to animation - moreover, I can't draw characters.

I want to turn some of my stories into animations - cartoons - but I don't know which software to start with. I was hoping there might be some with characters and backgrounds included, just enough to get you started. I really don't have the inclination to learn a whole different software type. Does such a thing exist? So far, ToomBoom Studio or Express look OK, but I don't even know enough about this software to ask intelligent questions.

Thanks
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Old April 18th, 2005, 04:37 AM   #2
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Jack: I've renamed your thread to more clearly indicate what you are looking
for exactly.

I think a lot of "3D" programs like Newtek's LightWave are being used to do
computer animation these days, even if it is "just" 2D animation.

However any good paint program with ink fill and support for drawing tablets
should be good to get started (although probably much more tedious since
you can't animate your characters).

Of course this all requires talent and lots of time and effort to learn those
programs and get the best from them.

Perhaps you should start with some drawing classes and such?

Otherwise it may be better to try and find an animator to team up with?
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Old April 18th, 2005, 11:48 AM   #3
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Jack there are several out there. I've been using AnimationStand for awhile and they have a free personal version you can download. But....it's for pros mainly and you would have to do some drawing and learn the lingo of animators. Programs like ToonBoom and AnimationStand have a pretty good learning curve.

Another popular way is to get Poser which has lots of prebuilt characters (in 3d) and lets you pose and animate them out to an avi or sequenced stills.
You can also purchase additional characters, animals and props, clothing... It has a basic toon style render option along with basic support for lip sync. It's a great option of you don't want to learn how to draw or model. Many consider the user interface intuitive.

Check out http://www.curiouslabs.com for the latest info. There is a whole universe of plug-ins and users and 3rd party support for it. Very popular and less expensive than the full version of ToonBoom.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 12:39 PM   #4
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Rob, Joe - Thanks.

I've now downloaded some of these to try out - some very sophisticated looking. I was just looking for some 2D characters and the ability to manipulate their limbs and save the result - kind of like paper dolls. I thought there might be something out there for young people with a simple interface.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 01:15 PM   #5
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Jack, poser will do exactly what you just described. You don't have to animate, you simply 'pose' the figures then render out to a single image file, pose them someway else, render out.... Pretty flexible. It's very popular among kids.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 01:57 PM   #6
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Thanks, Joe - I'll start with Poser then.

Years ago, when I lived just off DuPont Circle, I used to shoot at a pool hall staright out of "The Hustler". It was in Arlington about two blocks from the river. It's probably gone now.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 06:36 PM   #7
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Joe, I'm going to have to differ with you regarding Poser's ease of use. I consider myself pretty experienced with high end software packages and have done considerable 3d modeling and CAD. I just purchased Poser two weeks ago and have begun learning.

Now granted, I'm trying to do some fairly sophisticated realistic looking animation of horses, but I find Poser rather exasperating. It is however a very impressive and powerful software package capable of incredible results. But if someone wants a simple 2d program for kids I just don't know that it's well suited. The figures don't necessarily respond in ways you want, and certain things are rather slow (and I'm running a dual G5/2.5).

If at all possible see if you can experiment around with a copy before plunking down a couple hundred bucks on this. Also, Poser 6 was just released and there are major compatibility problems between it and other applications designed to work with it. In fact, I just purchased Poser 5 due to these problems.

Now it's true that lots of basic stuff is included in the package, and like I said it's all very impressive. But perhaps frustrating. I have to admit, I never knew what a cult following this software has until I started looking into it several weeks ago. There are a number of websites devoted exclusively to Poser.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 06:46 PM   #8
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Being that you are familiar with vector graphics software, you might want to check out Lost Marble's Moho 5.1 ... a really cool 2D animation platform without the cumbersome 3D aspect, and most importantly it's only $99.

www.lostmarble.com
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Old April 18th, 2005, 08:51 PM   #9
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I've downloaded demo versions of both Poser & MoHo. I'm going to tinker with all as soon as I have some free time. I must admit that I find some of the nearly photo-realistic images I've seen on some of the web sites rather intimidating. If the software is capable of that sort of illustration, then I may find myself learning to do things I really don't need for simple animations.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 10:29 PM   #10
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Jack only you know what you really want. Poser offers a 2d style look for every thing when rendering out. MoHo is pretty impresive for what it does, but you still need to know how to draw. My recomendation was based on the fact your don't know or have time to learn how to draw human like figures. If you are willing to take the time to learn, then there are several great options for you. One of my favs is Xara X, a great vector drawing program with a low learning curve and a great tracer. But thats me. MoHo is great for cutout too, but geared toward animation not comic book style rendering.

Another fav among artists is Corel Paint (used to be owned by some other company) and has a long history among both animation and comic book artists. Great tracing tools. Great natural water color tools too.

One option is to render out Poser scenes in pencil draw mode then import them into your favorite paint program (Most are using Photoshop) for color and final look. A lot of those Photorealistic images you saw from Poser artists are done just that way.

Boyd has brought up a good point. People experienced with other 3d or graphics software find Poser sort of obtuse. But not all.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 02:52 AM   #11
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Thanks Joe,

Both of the products you mentioned are for Wintel machines only. I guess I should have mentioned I'm a Mac guy. I've downloaded Animation Stand Personal (which only runs in OS9 - sluggish in emmulation under OSX) and demo versions of Poser, ToonBoom Express and MoHo.

I watched a MoHo tutorial where the guy (Steve Ryan) demonstrated "bones" and "joints" and that seemed like a pretty good way to get animation without my having to draw the same character 24 times per second (or whtever the frame rate is for animation) in a different position. On the other hand, Poser seems to include some characters already drawn, though I haven't even looked close enough to discover how to manipulate them. And on my third hand, I seem to remember reading that ToonBoom used some morphing to get where you want to go. My recollection was that you could set your start and end positions and the software created everything in between, though my memory could be faulty on that.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 01:11 PM   #12
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Jack, Poser has a 'Pose' mode that allows you to set start and end poses for animation. Without it, it would be pretty useless. Ver 6 seems to have added a better option using a virtual wooden dummy instead of the character itself.
Haven't tried that ver so can't offer anything else.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 01:51 PM   #13
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Yes, Poser uses keyframe animation like many other software packages. That aspect is simple enough to understand and use. The workflow is straightforward:

1. Choose a frame rate (15, 25, 30 fps)
2. Decide how long the animation is going to be and set an ending frame
3. Set the timeline for the first frame and create the initial pose.
4. Now advance to the desired frame. Raise the figures arm.
5. Go back to frame 1 and press play. The software calculates all the intermediate positions of the arm for the frames between.

So you just repeat this process for each movement by setting starting and ending positions for each body part and let the program figure out the transitions.
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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:59 PM   #14
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Hi Jack. I don't use any 3-D programs, but I think that you and perhaps others interested in 3-D and digital art would find this site interesting and usefull.

http://www.3dbuzz.com/vbforum/sv_home.php

Good luck!
Bernard
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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:11 PM   #15
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Wow, Bernard! Another New Jerseyan. Thanks for the tip, I'll check it out.
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