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Which animation program should I use to create my cartoon?

Screenwritersdaily’s 2005 article on How to Pitch a Cartoon has been very popular over the years. When I wrote the article it was one of the first and only topics available on pitching a cartoon on the internet at that time and since, it has been used as the basis for many other popular articles on “Pitching a cartoon”.

One of the questions I’ve been frequently asked is ‘what kind of software is available for people who want to make cartoons or animation?’ I received this question so often in 2009, I set out to find the answer.

I discovered Toon Boom, Daz3D, Iclone, Anime Studio 5, and Moviestorm.  I was looking for something inexpensive with a friendly user interface, that wouldn’t be difficult for a beginner to use.

During the trials, I discovered that some of the programs were either too expensive or the graphics were lacking. For example,  I loved Daz3d, but the learning curve was great enough to render it useless to a beginner or first-time animator. Daz3D and it’s companion programs were also costly (DAZ3D is now free!!). Currently, Daz is offering its software free.  Good deal, if you can figure out how to use it. I managed to create a puppet, but some of the commands were tedious. Saving a puppet and finding it later is also difficult. The process was extremely time consuming but the end product  is great. You’ll need to decide for yourself if Daz is worth the trouble.

I would love to try Toon Boom, but not at its current price.  I purchased Anime Studio ($55 USD), but the software required more skill than I had at the time. Iclone, will require another look. I’ve seen movies made with Iclone and some of them I didn’t like. It could be the skill of the animator and not the program itself. That one criticism aside, I really liked what I saw on the ICONE web site so I will give Iclone a shot eventually and make some movies with it.

Moviestorm was extremely easy to use and it’s the program I eventually stuck with. I decided to make a movie to see if I liked the program and if I would recommend it to others. The movie was supposed to be a 15 minute short.  I decided Sci-Fi would be genre. I got in touch with some actors for the voice over, wrote a rudimentary script, and the result was 2020 AD, an hour and 25 minute long feature length movie. I’ll have to chronicle that experience for you at a later time. The movie is not perfect by any means. But the graphics are decent enough. The program was easy to use, and there are sufficient enough add ons through Moviestorm’s marketplace and outside channels like Moddingstorm, Machinimods, and Stormcraft (mostly free). What I would like to see is the ability to scale characters down in order to create “children”. Daz allows its software to create children whereas, Moviestorm does not. Better animation and interaction options and relaxed (or realistic) walk and body gestures would round the puppets out nicely. On the plus side, the user can design unique faces for their characters and spectacular scenary using abundantly supplied props. The advantages of Moviestorm far outweights the disadvantages, and while all animated movies take time to create, Moviestorm isn’t tedious, it’s actually a lot of fun. Movies are created in a 3D real-time environment, a virtual movie set similar to what is used in video game technology. Much like Iclone and other Machinima animated programs.

Moviestorm’s interface allows the user to click, add, drag and design. Advanced users can do a bit more with the program, especially when using a second video editing program. I worked with both Moviestorm and Sony’s Vegas Pro. Scroll down to watch a few movies made with Moviestorm. I thought user KibishiPaul’s movie “Danse Macabre” was terrific so I linked the video below. I also included a clip of “Dream Reamer”, a sample movie I made. Or you can watch an early cut of 2020 AD that I’ve made available below.  Have you used Moviestorm or any of the other programs? Tell me about your experiences in the comments section below.

– E. Hughes

One of the better examples of a movie made with Moviestorm is by user KibishiPaul called Danse Macabre:



One Response to Which animation program should I use to create my cartoon?

  1. System Moderator on March 19, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Thanks! We’ve been around for 9 years. We just updated the look of the site and transferred some of the articles over. We keep a good eye on the site throughout the day. Thanks again. 🙂