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Efficient 2D Animation Software? 64

jack hunter asks: "I just found out about MOHO, a software that minimizes frame-by-frame tweening in 2D animation via the usage of a 3D concept --- bones (among other things). Believe it or not, prior to this, I thought Macradobe Flash was the only affordable animation software, and I was prepared to do frame-by-frame grit-work for my budget-wise animations. Anyway, I've learned my lesson: there are more powerful pieces software out there, and there are those who know of them. What do you use to animate? If you use Flash, do you use any add-ons/components or special techniques to make things more efficient?"
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Efficient 2D Animation Software?

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  • Toon Boom (Score:4, Informative)

    by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @11:42PM (#15432983)
    Try Toon Boom Studio. Cheap, free trial available.
    • I did use ToonBoom. It has a lot of nice features for animation workflow, but there were a couple of flaws which meant I gave up using it.

      Although it allows multiple camera usage in scene planning, when it comes to rendering the video you are only allowed one camera for the whole video, which made switching between cameras to do something like get a close-up of someones face and back to the whole scene a pain to implement and was a really stupid limitation. It was deeply annoying because the multiple camera
  • Synfig (Score:5, Informative)

    by sir99 ( 517110 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2006 @11:46PM (#15432988) Journal
    I haven't used it, but Synfig []'s capabilities look similar to Moho. Synfig is Free software.
  • LiveMotion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stubear ( 130454 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:20AM (#15433066)
    It's difficult to get a copy these days but if you can you won't be disappointed. Adobe buying Macromedia is, IMHO, one of the best things that could have happened to Macromedia and their software. Flash will improve by the merging of LiveMotion. LM is like AfterEffects for .swf files and is a much better tool for animators because it animates property attributes seperate from one another where as Flash animates object properties all at once when you set a keyframe.
    • it is quite possible to animate different properties on different timelines by nesting movie clips. That is how many sophisticated Flash sites and animations are developed.
    • Or the merging of the two companies will destroy the innovative Flash interface and be replaced by an unusable one just so Adobe doesn't have to maintain two seperate product lines.

      There's very good reasons for Flash not to go down the "seperate animation curve/property" approach that all other animation packages seem to use.


      Disclaimer: I've never worked with LiveMotion before though. I just find the idea that Adobe can improve flash editor just because they're adobe to be offenive. I think its more like
      • Innovative? Macromedia has barely changed the interface from its days as FutureSplash Animator. If I want to animate transparency and position, LiveMotion kicks Flash all over the place and then some. If you've ever used AfterEffects or damn near any other any other animation program such as Combustion you'll notice that you can keyframe each property seperately. In Flash once you set the keyframe it sets all property values at their current levels. The work arounds in Flash, such as nesed movie clips,
        • I've used LiveMotion back when it first came out. I wasn't very impressed by it, but perhaps I'm biased by how Flash was my first "animation" software. Then again, I cannot say I am a professional animator. For me, it's just a fun pasttime/hobby. Still... I'd have to agree with that other guy's negative view of LiveMotion's effects on Flash.

          Would you care to explain what you mean by animate transparency and position? I don't see why it's more difficult to do that on Flash than LiveMotion... I mean, if you

      • Disclaimer: I've never worked with LiveMotion before though. I just find the idea that Adobe can improve flash editor just because they're adobe to be offenive. I think its more likely they'll kill it one way or another.

        WTF are you talking about? The incorporation of Illustrator-style vector drawing tools in the next version of flash is light-speed ahead of what Macromedia was able to cobble together in their many years of trying create a workable art space. Honestly, the Adobe buyout of Macromedia is n
  • by iamelgringo000 ( 928665 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:28AM (#15433090)
    Most of my 2D animation has been done either with Flash or Adobe After Effects [].

    After Effects is an industry standard package, and it costs about the same as Flash, last I checked. One of it's most powerful features is the scripting language. It helps to create procedural animations which can be difficult to do by hand.

    You also might want to consider doing 2D animation with a 3D package. Most of my time 3D time was spent learning Maya []. The strength that 3D animation packages have, is that they get used more often for character animation than the 2D packages, therefore they have a lot more tools forcharacter animators such as bone structures and deformations. A lot of them have physics packages that can help automate certain types of animation. Most 3D packages also come with built in scripting languages for procedural animation.

    The down side to 3D packages is the intense learning curve. At last count, I heard that Maya had over 80,000 commands. These are huge and complex software packages. The proprietary ones also tend to cost quite a bit, although Blender [] is free as well as open source.

    A lot of what software to use depends on what kind of animation you want to do. Are you doing short character animations? Are you doing experimental stuff? Are you Rotoscoping? If you tell us a bit more about the type of animation you want to do, we could be a bit more specific in recommending specific packages.

    Other thoughts:
    --I know that Photoshop and ImageReady can be used to animate between layers ( but involves a bit of hackery to get it to work well).
    --The integration between Photoshop and After Effects is really nice. It's one of the reasons AFX is used so much in television.
    --FilmGimp/Cinepaint [] has been used for wire removal and image clean up for a while in the FX industry, I have no experience with it.
    --I know that there are also some animation plugins [] for the Gimp [] that have been written. Again, I have no experience with these.

    Regardless of the tools, there is always a steep learning curve, and there's always seems to be a lot of work coaxing the software program to do what you want it to do. If it's not coming easily, it's because we still have a lot of work to do in developing great animation software.

    Good luck, and have fun.
  • by UNIX_Meister ( 461634 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:29AM (#15433091)
    I've been using moho for a couple of years now. The features can't be beat:

    - runs on linux
    - scriptable with lua
    - great forum
    - particles
    - bones (inverse kinematics) as you noticed
    - batch rendering
    - 2.5d (move camera and 2d objects around in 3d space)
    - import 3d objects

    It's a great program, I use it every day for animation, for creating DVD menus, for creating swf files, just about everything.

  • After Effects (Score:2, Informative)

    After Effects, hands down. It's worth every penny.
    I could ramble on about how I've been an professional animator for years and how AE has ever feature an animator could ask for, but the bottom line is this: if you're outputting to video, read up on After Effects.
  • Toon Boom [] / Opus [] (for groups) costs a little bit, but its the 'standard' for a reason (from what ive heard). We use Opus at work, seems to do everything well, and runs on just about everything.
  • Tweenmaker (Score:3, Informative)

    by tfinniga ( 555989 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:17AM (#15433239)
    I know a guy who made similar software. Not sure how it stacks up to some of the other products mentioned in the thread, although it does have some fairly sophisticated shape blending which minimizes bending energy to produce the morphs. Has bones, cross-platform, etc. It's called TweenMaker [].
  • Synfig is better (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashdotnickname ( 882178 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:23AM (#15433440)
    Not only do Synfig []'s capabilities match Moho's, but in some areas I actually prefer it over the latter. Plus, Synfig is absolutely free.
  • Time to pimp MY favorite 2D package..... Being interested in traditionl animation, I found PlasticAnimationPaper [] to be very good. Their product(an advanced virtual lighttable) is available on Linux and they recently reviewed their pricing policy making the entry package very affordable. Of course, you don't get Moho's tweening, but then again, it is a traditional 2D cel animation package... Worth having a look if you are into traditional animation
    • I also tried PlasticAnimationPaper wanting to create traditional 2D cel animation, but the problem with it is that it costs the same as ToonBoom studio while being a lot less powerful. The free and home edition are so stripped down (no layer for instance) that nothing complex can be done without relying on other tools. I finally settled for ToonBoom Studio. After a couple of weeks of use, I can understand why Disney, Warner Bros and a huge number of other animation studios uses their product (Studio, Harmo
  • South Park (Score:3, Funny)

    by aarku ( 151823 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:55AM (#15433523) Journal
    South Park uses Maya [], described as "building a sandcastle with a bulldozer." Just thought I'd throw that out there.
  • Ktoon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CandyMan ( 15493 ) <javier.candeira@com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:57AM (#15433528) Homepage
    • is it better than Flash in anyway? I looked through the v 0.7 features list in the doc's (they seem to only have a features list for 0.7), and it seems that Flash can do all Ktoon can do... does Ktoon support "bones" (in the mojo sense) mentioned above, by any chance?
  • This is second hand information, but Animo is liked by some animators I know: .htm []

  • Is Rotoshop ever going to come out? It was hinted at a future release, but now they seem to have it locked down.

    God do I want that one.
  • It all depends on what featurs you are looking for but PD Pro [] is dirt cheap and not only does animation very well, it has "Painter" like abilities. I would sayt that this software is the closest I have found to the old Deluxe Paint from the Amiga days.
  • While I've jumped into 2D animating by purchasing an older version of Flash (4) and a graphics tablet, I did come across other software solutions in the course of my investigations:

    CreaToon - a "cut out" approach to animation. I enjoyed the demo, but not the price tag. There is a free (Windows) trial at []

    The Tab - vector with very interesting drawing tools, but an odd timeline manager (and a one year license bothers me). There is a free (Windows/Mac) trial at []

  • 3D Packages (Score:2, Informative)

    by SpaceToast ( 974230 )

    I have a friend who swears by ToonBoom, but I haven't done much with it myself.

    I'm just finishing up some cutout animation (Monty Python-style) for a science museum. I considered Flash, but ultimately went with Animation:Master []. A:M is actually a full-featured 3D character animation package, with a price closer to Flash. The advantages on this project were an excellent animation interface, forward and inverse kinematics with bones, rigging, smooth interpolation with many options, motion blur, and glow

  • I'm still looking for an equivalent to the old Amiga "Fantavision" program. Drop dead simple, basically a 'paint' program with built-in tweening. While its selection of drawing primatives was limited to 'polygon', its user interface was great and it was fun for doing abstract stuff.

    Is there anything out there for purely amateur purposes?
  • I use a combination of Flash and After Effects the most frequently. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Flash is fast and easy, but not aprticularly full featured. But it's hard to underestimate how helpful it can be to just hit 'play' and see an immediate playback without any rendering times. After Effects is way more powerful. It makes hard things easy, but it also makes easy things hard. It offers a lot of control over so many differnt aspects, which you need to do complex things, but can be
    • Actually, if you make your character into a movieclip or an object, you can definitely make "global changes," like changing the skin tone (in Flash). Also, I believe there's an extension for selecting all colors on a frame.
  • I use Bauhaus Software []'s Mirage. I use it mostly for compositing, although it is designed as a raster animation app.

The absent ones are always at fault.