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Do It Yourself Animation – Which to choose?

16th Feb 2016, author: Eve Myhill

Do It Yourself Animation

With technology becoming more accessible and user friendly it was only a matter of time before creativity was able to placed directly into your hands. Do It Yourself or DIY animation is all the trend right now, so we looked at some of the top software on offer and cast a professional eye over the options.

GoAnimate

Starting off we have Go!Animate. It has a quite an intuitive drag and drop format allowing you access to around x clips and nifty hook up to Youtube meaning you can export your animation directly to Youtube. It takes a little while to orientate yourself but the tutorials are helpful. If you have the time then you can make a relatively smooth animation. However there are sometimes some slightly jerky delays and actions in the activity which can affect the overall flow of the film. The characters are also a bit old hat. In 2013 GoAnimate teamed up with Common Craft but since then it’s still very much the same style fayre.

They have a 3 tier pricing system

  • $299 per year for restricted assets like movies
  • $599 a year you get to add your own logo and a live chat support
  • $999 – the big Kahuna. As well as priority service for support you can also have unlimited access to assets, import your own fonts and download as a gif animation

Powtoon

Another drag and drop system. I found this one a lot easier to navigate, delete and time. The timeline at the bottom of the page is more flexible to use than GoAnimate but it will take a few minutes to get the hang of your in and out points. When it comes to voice-over your encouraged to record your own (this I’m very dubious about because cheap sound can make a film cheap) or your directed to a new site, either Audacity for voice editing or Voice Bunny for voice over artists which come at extra cost . A solid, professional sounding voice over starts at about £110 with Voice Bunny. As with GoAnimate, the actions can be a bit jerky and repetitive, restricting your ability to show reactions like surprise, disappointment and so on. As with GoAnimate, the animation style is expansive but essentially limited with characters expressions often being repeated and a little over simplified. However if you don’t mind having the same cartoon as the competition and it does the job then it’s not really a problem – especially since they have a free versions to play around with.

2 tier pricing system

  • FREE – 38 tunes and 29 styles.
  • $19 per month with restricted but still fairly varied music and styles. Up to 15 minutes long animations
  • $97 per month with unlimited music and style access. Up to 60 minute long animations

Animaker

A much more simplified version of the above but the price reflects that. Their USP is the fact that its not just actually NOT drag and drop but after exploring it a bit, it did seem like a drag and drop but with a few more keyframing functions. The images move but aren’t actually animated so this is a bit restrictive for narrative. It’s more of a fancy pants powerpoint than a video. However you can personalise it a bit more with your own images, record your own dialogue and add video clips. Whether these options are wise to be used for professional purposes will all depend on your personal skills. I am a bit confused on the pricing though as only one of the price brackets lets you use your animations commercially, so I’m not sure who their end user is supposed to be.

3 tier pricing

  • FREE – 5 movies quota, SD quality ,unbranded and you can’t download them
  • $12 a month – 20 movies, max 5 mins, downloadable but no commercial rights
  • $25 a month – 40 movies, HD and Sd download quality but still no commercial use
  • $49 a month. The whole shebang much as you would expect for the most expensive package. You get 100 downloads and commercial rights.

Ugnoodle

Of course we couldn’t make the list without mentioning our own version of DIY animation UGnoodle. This service works a little differently to all the others as you are in full control of the script voice over, music and style but we actually piece the animation together for you form our set assets. Cost wise it does work out a little more expensive, so what are you paying for? Well, we have actual animators piecing your film together so where there may be an asset that ‘not quite right’ or you need something a bit more relevant but its not in the pack we can whip one up to suit in a jiffy. Also, as professional storytellers (yes, that’s a real job) the end result is guaranteed to look smooth, professional and polished, where as perhaps some home-made attempts may have all the earmarks of a jumper from someone who learned to knit yesterday – as in, it does the job but your not going to show it to anyone.

UGnoodle also has no restrictions on logo animation, bespoke fonts, and pantones and other important brand earmarks as we know that this Gnoodle has to fit in with your overall campaign, so a few notes in the submission box ensure you get exactly what your looking for. We have a selection of templates and audio tracks online but back at the ranch we have infinite options for music and style and can match to something you’ve seen or like already.

In terms of end deliverables we offer a wide selection from movs to gifs and everything in between as well as advising you on which format suits which platform best. And probably most importantly we are an actual animation company comprising of real people (see website for our amazing bios) so if you have any questions we’re always at the end of the phone

The pricing structure if different to the above. Each animation is costed on running time starting at 30 seconds for £500 whoic includes

  • Professional voice over
  • Licensed music track
  • Commercial use in perpetuity
  • Unique assets
  • Animated logo
  • Original artwork
  • Its a heck of a lot quicker and has just 5 steps
  • Professional compiling and editing of video
  • Deliverable file in .mov and or.gif if required
  • Business hours online support by phone or email

In summary. All these tools are excellent and from our perspective its brilliant that the world of marketing is finally embracing the full potential of animation.

Overall Pro’s to DIY animation is that you can keep an eye on cost. That’s the biggie really, its helps keep the overheads down. It’s also pretty neat that you get to play around be the director, everyone has an inner creative.

Cons to full DIY animation are that you’ll most likely end up with an animation very similar to your competitor as over-saturation is likely. You wont have any guidance and you’ll only be able to use what your given. After all you do get what you pay for. I guess it all comes down to how much time are you prepared to give.

If you need to keep costs low and have the time on your hands to learn the programme and finesse the work (it’ll take longer than you think) then the completely DIY versions are for you. They are impressive programs and I thoroughly enjoyed playing around with them. However if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative but have your hands full with other tasks then UGnoodle might be more up your strata. It allows you the freedom and input in the development stage whilst leaving the build to an actual animation company. .

If you do decide to make your own I just have one piece of advice: know the difference between humorous and cheesy. It’s a small but important difference.

If you’ve used any of these services or know of any new ones we should add to our review list, we’d love to hear your thoughts! In the meantime if you’d like a video or animation then get in touch production@gnufilms.co.uk or 01604 779079.

You can also visit our video company site www.gnufilms.co.uk or our animation site www.gnoodle.co.uk for more information!