Web host strip dancing as my first stickfigure animation experience

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Web hosting seduces a client

Web hosting seduces a client

This is actually not a versatile research post but rather a short summary of my experience of creating a fun stickfigure animation with elements of strip dancing for the article series about choosing a web hosting. It was my first animation experience. This post can be useful for complete noobs in animation (like me) as a starting point to make their first cool oscar-nominated masterpiece.

Here is the video I’ve made:

Okay. Here is the summary.

Prerequisites
– I wanted to create an animation video easily and quickly.
– I did not want to spend any money.

Animation software I considered
I encountered a helpful Q&A page which has links to simple online animation tools and software. It was a first step to investigate what tool I will choose.
Since I wanted a free, easy and quick way to make my video, I finally narrowed my choice options to Stickfigure animation tools.

The main characters used in these tools are stick figures. They are simple flat models of a person or anything with built-in basic inverse kinematics. Person stick figure model is already built and you may use it right away (as I did), not creating your own models. These animation tools are really simple and let you to create something quite watchable even if you do not have artistic talents or any talents at all. At the same time you can create something truly original.

The list of Stickfigure animation software I chose from are below

– Classic and very popular Pivot Stickfigure Animator. It is a frame-based animation tool (you draw frame by frame unlike TISFAT – see below). It is the oldest and the most popular tool that has tons of fans with their compunity that shares models and image libararies you can use in your stickfigure cartoons (see section “External links” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pivot_Stickfigure_Animator)

Stykz. It was intended as an advanced version of Pivot. And I think it was when Stykz appeared. You can find the comparison of Skykz and old versions (2012) of Pivot here. However there is a new beta version of pivot (4.1) released in Janualry 2013, whereas Stykz was updated last time only in 2011. Community for Stykz is much less developed that for Pivot.

I wanted to make a really simple animation and did not want much bells and whistles, so I could go with any of the tools. But Pivot did not go on my Linux using Wine as is so I played with Stykz.

TISFAT. Although this tool is pretty new (it’s version is even below 1.0), it uses tweening that helps saves a lot of time when drawing. Tweening allows you to just set a new position for the object and the object automatically moves to the new position. In the two previous tools you need to draw movement frame by frame.

And TISFAT uses object approach – you operate not drawing and frames like in the tools above but with timeline based on keyframes and objects. It may seem a bit more complicated but I felt very compfortable with it.

The drawbacks (as it discovered later) is that version (0.684) for Linux was very basic and did not allow rotate objects (except stickfigures that you manipulate the way you want). By the way,this Linux version of TISFAT required Wine anyway. Haha.

And unfortunately, as I found later, it did not manage to export my animation to AVI although there is such a function in the menu. I should have checked it earlier. Windows verion (0.705) is much better from this perspective. But 0.705 could not work well with the project saved in 0.684. Fail.

Version 0,684 allowed me to export to series of bitmaps, so that I could compile into a stream video, but to make a better and smoother video I had to use screen capturing instead when playing ready animation in TISFAT (I used SimpleScreenRecorder for it).

Also it has just had one undo level.

Another problem I have encountered is with Youtube where I uploaded my video. The problem was that Youtube overlap the bottom of my video with Youtube bottom navigation bar. At first I thought it was so because my video had resolution 640 x 480 whereas Youtube switched to 16:9 proportion frame. So I re-rendered my video (with SimpleScreenRecorder) to make it comply with 16:9 screen proportion. But it did not help. So after unsuccessful rain-dancing and voodoo magic I ended up dead-simply by capturing a video with an additional space at the bottom.

To add music to my video I used Kdenlive (for Linux). Windows users may find it comfortable to use a free tool MovieMaker.

Anyway, despite the unexpected problems I think TISFAT was more productive for my basic animation than frame-by-frame drawing in Pivot or Stykz. It took me about a day and a half to make animation including choosing a tool and another day to add music and work around the bugs.

You may download file from official TISFAT community forum here

Do you have your first animation to show off? Come on, share it in the comments below!

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