So you want to make an animation to show off online, but you don’t know which software to choose? Whether you’re a newcomer to animation or incredibly experienced, here are the first programs you should check out and consider using. Because everyone’s needs are different, I’ve included both free options and expensive products that are more robust.
FlipBook (DigiCel) - When it comes to 2D animation software, it doesn’t get much easier than FlipBook. Not only is it beginner friendly, but it’s also been around long enough (over a decade) to be sculpted to fill every need for an industry veteran. The only drawback is that it’s not free, but $78 is certainly reasonable for all its features, not to mention that student discounts are available. Once your 2D video is complete, just upload it to any video hosting site and embed it on your site!
Gickr (Website) - Free software is always good, but what if you just want to make a really quick animation drawing? Instead of searching for a free program, then finding out most “free” ones aren’t actually free, then waiting to download and install one that actually is, why not just make a few drawings and combine them to make an animated gif image? It’s literally as easy as uploading as many picture frames as you want on Gickr and then letting the site make the animation image file for you. It even gives you size and speed options that you can manipulate. What’s especially nice is that it’s a small file that any computer and Web browser can play, so it’s easy to share your creation with the world!
Premiere Pro (Adobe) - There’s practically nothing Adobe Premiere Pro can’t do when it comes to animation, which is why some artists love it and some artists can’t stand it for video editing. If you just want to make simple animations, then there are a lot of features included that you might not need. It’s great that you have every tool you’ll ever need, but not if it means paying hundreds of dollars for tools you don’t plan to ever use. For most users, it’s best to consider an older version of Premiere that’s cheaper without sacrificing too many new features, or just use Windows Movie Maker for free. For those who want every video editing tool imaginable for utmost professionalism, then dish out the cash for both this and Adobe After Effects as well.
Blender (The Blender Foundation) - If your animation needs are in the 3D department, then Blender should always be your first consideration. Much like the 3D equivalent of FlipBook, Blender is a great place for beginners to start learning the basics of 3D animation, but it’s still complex enough to have been used in high budget films. However, it’s worth noting that all 3D software faces longer render times than 2D software when creating a video of your work. Once the .AVI, .MOV, or other video file is created, it can still be uploaded to any video hosting site online and then linked to people or embedded in a site for the entire world to see!
3ds Max (Autodesk) - Whereas Blender is comparable to FlipBook’s simplicity and low price tag, 3D Studio Max is comparable to Adobe Premiere Pro in complexity and expensiveness. 3ds Max was arguably the best 3D animation package for a decade, but in recent years it’s been a heated debate, so definitely consider all of your other 3D animation options if you’re not a novice.
Flash (Adobe) - Making a gif image might be too simple for your animation desires, and creating an entire 2D or 3D scene might be going overboard, which is why many prefer Flash. Not only does it bring quick and sleek results that can contain audio tracks and interactivity, but it’s also an industry favorite for advertisements online. Animation aside, it also has appealing Web design perks that can come in handy when making your Web portfolio. For more reasons why Flash is worth knowing, you can read my full article here.
Schools to Consider: