How I Animate

When I had my Church Anarchist animated video blog, I used to get a lot of questions about how I made my animations. So I created a few short videos to introduce curious viewers to some of the tools and software I use.

 
 

List of tools

Software

Do Ink (iPad): Hands-down my favorite animation app for either the Mac or the iPad. It creates both frame-by-frame and keyframe-based animations. And it can export still images as well as video clips in full HD.

Adobe Ideas (iPad): This app has been discontinued but I mention it simply because I used it quite a bit in my earlier videos. Though it was a drawing app, not an animation app, it created vector image which I could then animate using Keynote.

GarageBand (Mac): I use this to record all the narrations for my videos and clean up the audio a bit.

Keynote (Mac): Keynote is Apple’s presentation software. Because it can be used to render video clips as well, it’s what I used to animate the drawings from Adobe Ideas. But I use it for other things as well.

iMovie (Mac): I use iMovie to edit the GarageBand audio, along with the video clips created in DoInk and Keynote.

Motion (Mac): Though it’s not specifically created for making animated cartoons, I’ve used Apple’s Motion to make cartoons like this.

Anime Studio Pro (Mac): This software is more powerful and complex than what I need for a typical blog post video. Though it has more of a learning curve, check out the results such as the detailed mouth movements in this video.

 

Hardware

iPad Air: Currently, I create my drawings and animations on the iPad Air, though I might eventually move up to a Pro.

Griffin Stylus: I use a Griffin stylus because it doesn’t have too much drag on the iPad screen or too little.

Mac: I use the Mac to record all the audio, to animate the still drawings I create on the iPad, and to edit the animations I create on the iPad.

Apogee Mic: The best USB mic I’ve found. Period. I absolutely love it.

 

For iPad-Only Animators

It’s no secret I’ve been a big fan of Do Ink for awhile. (Click here to read the interview I did with them.) With all the improvements they’ve made to their iPad app, I could actually create my animations solely in Do Ink without using Adobe Ideas or Keynote. Just add the iOS version of iMovie to the mix (which is free anyway), and you’re ready to go.


Animation Basics

Frame-By-Frame vs. Keyframing

Basically there are two types of animation you can create using the Do Ink app. You can either create animations frame-by-frame or use keyframes to define the beginning and end of an animation, then let the app fill in the frames in between.

Keyframing is a big time-saver but it is limited to simple changes such as the position or size of an element. So it could be a great way to animate a drawing of a car moving from one side of the screen to the other or maybe shrinking a baseball to make it look like it was flying away from the viewer. For anything more complex, you will probably end up drawing animations frame-by-frame.

 
 

The great thing about Do Ink is it easily combines both types of animations. Frame-by-frame animations are created as drawings and drawings can be combined in compositions that use keyframes. However a drawing isn’t required to be more than one frame. For static backgrounds you only need to draw a single frame.

For those drawings that have multiple frames, the animations are looped by default. By using a looped drawing in a composition, then combining it with keyframes, you can give the illusion of much more movement with only a few drawn frames of animation.

 
 

Best of all, the animations you create in the Do Ink are not confined to the app. You can easily export still images and video clips. The video clips can then be imported into your favorite video editing software where they can be combined with audio and more.

 
 

Do Ink will default to compositions with a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning they the are more square, like the screen of an iPad as opposed to wide like the flatscreen on a high definition TV. The aspect ratio you choose not only affects the shape of your final video, it also affects the resolution.

So, if you want to create HD videos, you need to choose the 16:9 aspect ratio. Also, since the screen shape will change with the different aspect ratios, you should choose your aspect ratio before creating your actual composition.

Personally, I don’t exploit all the capabilities of Do Ink with my own animations. That’s because I use a very simply whiteboard-type style for most of my videos. Even so, they add a whole other dimension that wouldn’t be possible with mere static images.

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Thank you!