Explore Computer Animation with Animation Software
by Robin Hegg
Simple game-like software can be a great place to start. These programs use pre-drawn characters and objects that you can select, then let you animate the objects to tell a story. Two programs that are free to download, Pivot Animator and Stykz, let you animate stick figures using control points, just like professional computer animators use control points and virtual skeletons to animate their characters.
ABCya! Animate is an online animation tool that lets you create animations using drawings you create or ready-made images you can drag-and-drop into the frame. Animations can be up to 100 frames long and can be exported as a GIF file. FluxTime Studio, another online animation tool, lets you create your own animation using ready-made objects.
MonkeyJam and Clayanimator are two downloadable software programs that are designed to help you create animations from art and models created offline. MonkeyJam lets you create frames from images captured by a camera, camcorder, or scanner and animate them. Clayanimator focuses on clay animation. The website is full of tips on creating clay models, capturing images, and using the software to animate them.
Alice is a downloadable program designed to allow you to both create an animation using drag-and-drop graphics and to see and learn the programming language that corresponds to your animation.
Want to try your hand at modeling 3D objects and characters from scratch just like a professional computer animator? SketchUp is free, simple, downloadable 3D modeling software. If you want to try software that will let you model 3D objects from scratch and then animate them, you can try Anim8or 3d Modeler or Blender, both of which are free to download.
Aside from trying computer animation on your own at home, you can look into animation camps and classes in your area. Digital Media Academy camps include programs in 3D modeling and animation. KidsCamps.com provides a list of camps with animation programs. In Los Angeles, the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program (SPMAP) provides free arts and media classes for middle school students.