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Video:Best Computer Animation Programs - Free

with Mark Zamora

Free software for computer animation is widely available and allows for a variety of functionality. In this how-to video from About.com, get some info on the best free software for computer animation.See Transcript

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Transcript:Best Computer Animation Programs - Free

Hi, I'm Mark Zamora, animation expert, here for About.com and in this screen cast, I'm going to walk you through some of the best software for those looking to get into animation!  

Software for 2D Computer Animation

Now, depending on what kind of animation you're looking to get into, you'll need different pieces of software so we'll start off with basic 2D animation. One of the most popular ways to create 2D animation is with Adobe's Flash. It presents the work area with a canvas, tools and a frame based timeline. If you start off basic, it's a lot like making a flip book. As you learn more and more about the tools available to you, you can create some great animations. 

More popular programs for creating 2D animation are the Toon Boom series  - which is what many professional studios use to create their animations like The Simpsons, Disney Movies like The Lion King and much more. It provides the professional tools you need to create the best animations - including the ability to create cartoon puppets which make animating some characters so much easier, and lip sync tools to animate speech easier. Of course, the basic concept is the same. Adjust movement along a timeline to animate your objects and characters.  

Of course, both of these products can be quite costly, so if you're looking to start 2D animation but have a smaller budget, then you'll want to check out Pencil. It's very similar to Flash and ToonBoom but has some limitations. I know many people who use it for practice and the best part is that it's free! 

 

Free Software for 3D Computer Animation

That covers 2D animation, but if you're a fan of movies like Toy Story or Shrek, then you might be more interested in 3D animation. This is where software like Maya or 3D Studio Max come in. They are both from Autodesk and are slowly becoming more and more similar so it's really about personal preference at this point. 3D software and animation like this can get pretty complicated because of all the steps involved, from the creation of the 3D characters, or modelling - to the actual animation itself.

Maya and 3DS Max provide tools for both of these processes but the general idea is the same as with the 2D animation software from earlier. Use the frames and keyframes down here on the timeline to create your animation! Autodesk provides their software for free if you have an educational email ending with a .edu, so if you're in school and you're looking to learn - they make it very easy! 

If you're not in school but are still looking to animate on a budget then check out anim8or. It's a free software that provides all of the basic tools so you can get to learn how to 3D model and animate with ease.  It doesnt get much more simple than this. That covers it! Of course, software is only half the battle! Practice makes perfect! 

For more on animation, be sure to visit compute.about.com. Thanks for watching! 

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