Finding The Right 3D Animation Software For Your Animatronics Needs

Modern technology continues to bring us high end devices and excellent inventions and innovations that allow us to enjoy high quality entertainment at its best. Computers nowadays are very powerful, whether it is a desktop PC or a laptop, you can expect these gadgets to work very fast and process applications in a short amount of time. The emergence of high definition devices paved the way for three-dimensional animation, replacing two-dimensional animations into something much more realistic. 3D animatronics are very popular nowadays, because of its clarity and sharpness, delivered in high resolution and vivid colours, matched with superb audio.

3D animation softwares are becoming in demand products in the computer technology market, despite the expensive price tags on applications created by highly reputable companies. Choosing the right software requires a thorough consideration of several factors. Some of the aspects that an interested graphics designer must closely evaluate include the purpose of the computer graphics, level of detail, difficulty of using the program and the features that are needed to accomplish the 3D animatronics required.

The kind of 3D animation program you will need depends on the purpose and use of the graphics that you will design. Once you have defined the purpose of doing the 3D animatronics, determine the level of detail necessary to achieve the best results. The more detailed the animation becomes, the more features and options one needs to have in their animatronics software. Some of the software used for making 3D graphics is neither user-friendly nor easy to learn, some even require proficiency in computer programming to be able to optimize the results. One needs to consider the difficulty of learning the program, so if you are novice in 3D animatronics, it is important to get a simple and easy-to-use animation program that can be mastered in a matter of days. If you have advanced skills, then choose ones that offer more options, either in the form of complicated commands or several lines of programming codes.

Finding the right 3D animation software is not easy and one needs to make sure that they are buying the most appropriate one for their intended purpose. It is highly recommended that before buying your chosen software is to look for an available trial program that can be used for several days, so you will be able to confirm if the program contains the features needed and complements your capabilities.

Forensic Animation- Forensic Computer Animation

Forensic animation is a category of 3D animation that is used for re-creating crime scenes, criminal events, accidents or disasters that have caused death. There is a wide range of uses for forensic computer animation, as forensic scientists work with investigators to gather all the relevant facts of a case and build a provable explanation of what happened and who might be at fault. There are many forensic events that can be useful to re-create in 3D, such as automobile or vehicular accidents, building, bridge or crane collapse, deadly assaults with weapons or the failure of a mechanical device that has caused a crash, explosion or fire.

To begin a forensic animation, facts must be compiled from as many sources as possible both investigative and scientific. Eyewitness accounts, photographs of the scene, statements from emergency responders and police detectives must be combined with reports from experts in relevant fields, such as weapons experts, engineers, scientists, forensic experts, etc. By combining all of the information from these sources it is possible to do a crime scene recreation or accident scene reconstruction.

Animators take these documents and use them to build accurate photorealistic 3D models of all the necessary objects in a scene. Then the items are placed accurately within a 3D environment. Once the proper textures, surfaces and colors are added, decisions must be made regarding lighting and camera placement. In many cases, facts that have been turned into a realistic and accurate 3D forensic animation can help determine culpability. The advantage of building a 3D forensic animation of scenes and objects is that the camera can then move around the scene freely to show relevant information. This can be very helpful as demonstrative evidence in the courtroom as it can help jurors to more clearly understand the facts of the case.

Forensic animation is only as accurate as the verifiability of the data that was used to build them. Important details such as direction and speed of a vehicle prior to impact in a car crash for example, must be added to a long list of other important facts. Everything from the point of contact, to weather conditions, to reports from engineers who have studied tire tracks and the vehicles after impact can be important factors in the case and should be included in the forensic animations of the scene.

Forensic animations are being accepted more and more in courtrooms around the U.S. It can be extremely difficult to explain to jurors the facts of a case without visual aids to increase their understanding and retention of the facts. The overall use of 3D animation in courtrooms is still not as high as it could be due to several myths about the process of animation.

Because of our movie going experience with special effects, there is a pre-conceived notion that 3D animations are largely products of the animator’s imagination. However, trained forensic animators spends as much as 70% of their project hours on tracking down and verifying the data they are using to re-create the scene. At each and every phase, from building the models and objects to the planned movement of those objects, and the environment they are shown in, every detail must relate and correspond directly with the investigative facts, eyewitness reports, photographs, and expert testimony.

When it comes to forensic animation, very little is left to imagination. Even if the animator is provided with few facts, if there are enough essential details they can use science, such as the laws of physics, or geometry to determine the rest.

3D animation should only be created for use in the courtroom under the following circumstances. It must adhere to and support testimony of expert witnesses and that expert should be involved in the creation of the animation in its planning stages. The use of the animation must be disclosed in advance of the trial date, with enough time for the opponent to cross examine the evidence. The animator must be an objective party that fairly and accurately has conveyed the evidence as dictated by the expert witnesses and litigators.

4 Terrific Ways to Convert Videos to Marvelously Animated GIFs

Are you an animation fanatic? Are you a savvy go-getter with a penchant for converting your favorite videos to awesome animated GIFs? If you are not a technical savvy, don’t worry. Pick a smart video-to-GIF maker to get started. Here we go some of the best recommended GIF makers. You might have a look at that information for future reference.

VideoGIF for Mac

If you’re an active YouTube member, then you’ll want to check out VideoGIF for Mac. This versatile utility allows you to convert videos to GIF animations straight from YouTube videos as well as local videos very quickly with very little hassle. It works almost all common video formats such as MOV, MPEG, MP4, M4V, 3GP, AVI and more.

It is flexible to trim any portion of the video to use, as well as to crop, resize or customize the overlays, frame delay, sequence, effects and its color settings. If you don’t have a video in the local folders, just enter the YouTube URL from which you would like to create your GIF. You also opt to change the GIF animation speed and the output quality of the GIF. The highlight is that you can get accurate start time and end time for the overlays of text objects and sticks as what a professional GIF editor can do.

VideoGIF for Mac is a great tool for people who want to create incredible animated GIF as avatar, screensaver and cool element online. It’s a dead simple way to make your own GIFs for all kinds of uses.

Giffing Tool

Giffing Tool, a Windows GIF maker, allows you to create GIFs by recording your screen in a specific area you selected. Always remember the shorter the recording, the higher the quality. With this software, you can also trim video frames, add text, and adjust quality settings freely.

Giffing Tool is a fun tool for creating GIFs by recording screen. If you want to enjoy the fun of making GIF from a recording screen, it might be a nice choice.

PicGIF for Mac

PicGIF for Mac, just as its name implies, is designed mainly for or assembling images into GIFs. It displays the frames one by one as pictures in the app window. Does it work for videos? Yes, it works for videos too. PicGIF allows you to add the local video files as well as webcam videos to make GIFs. And it works as smoothly as the two above work. You are free to set your start frame and end frame or just remove any frame that you just don’t like. Besides, you can use PicGIF for Mac to create GIFs from videos, web camera, as well as your life photos.

Photoshop

Photoshop is well-known photo manipulation software which is the extremely powerful editor for editing images. It also helps users convert video to GIF, but you need to procure your own videos. A MP4 format is preferable.

You can trim the clip from a video as you want and tweak a lot of options to personalize you GIF. You may have some troubles to finish your GIF with Photoshop, but it’s worth it to explore and experience the challenge and surprise it brings to you.

The first three quick and easy to use GIF makes are for those casual GIF artists while the last one is a serious GIF action for those who enjoy challenge. There are dozens of GIF making tools, and I just list some of them. I’m sure you’ll find the one that fits you perfectly.

How to make a LEGO animation

If you have not already dusted off you LEGO minifigures now is the time to start digging around in the boxes in your closet, loft or under your bed. Who knows you might find some valuable collectible minifigs hiding in there. Some more rare minifigs from the 70’s are worth hundreds of dollars. You can look up ebay to check out the more valuable ones.

 

  • Get a good Webcam

Once you have your legos collected together you will want to get your hands on a good quality web camera. A lot of webcams that you come across are very cheap and nasty. You will need to purchase a branded webcam from Microsoft or Logitech in order to ensure you get a good quality image. Expect to pay $35 plus. If you are not restrained by cost then I would suggest a Logitech c920 ( approximately $95 ) but boy is it worth the extra bucks. The image quality is superb. And the better the image quality the better the animation will appear to your viewers.

  • Get 3 Lamps

The last thing you want to do when animating is use “daylight”. Animating under sunlight is a disaster. Why? Well sunlight changes second by second because of shading from clouds or simply over the course of the day in terms of position. Thus every time you take a snapshot for your stop motion lego animation the lighting will have changed. The light levels will not be apparent to you but when you play the animation back you will see what appears like “light flicker”. This is very distracting to the viewer. So in order to avoid it you need to block out daylight to a large extent and use artificial light. Three standard desk lamps will do the job nicely. Place them strategically around your set and perhaps use some paper to dampen down or reflect the harsher lamps to soften the look and avoid light glare.

  • Choose the Best Stop Motion Software carefully

If you are using a PC then I would recommend iKITMovie. If you are using a MAC then I would recommend iStopMotion. If you have no restriction on budget and want to use a DSLR ( digital single lens reflex ) camera then I would recommend DragonFrame. The reason I mention choosing the best stop motion software is that often new animators can make a mistake in choosing. All the software I mentioned has a trial version for you to try out before you purchase. So take the time to download a free trial and see if it matches your needs.

  • Add sound FX , Music and Voiceover

In case you have not noticed the days of silent animated movies is gone. You should engage all the senses of the viewer. Adding sound effects is vital to entertain. Adding music to set the mood is also important. Adding a voice to your characters can bring your characters to life. You will need a microphone for your voice and dialog. You can record the voiceover directly in to some stop motion animation software whereas others encourage you to use a separate application and then import the wave or mp3 files once they are complete. iKIT allows you to record directly or import them and it also has over two thousand sound effects included in the application. Alternatively you can download free sound effects from various websites. Just type “free sound effects” in to google and you will find them easily.

 

Courses in Animation and Cartoons

Till some time back, creativity could not really help a person draw a monthly salary but these days scenario is completely different. Now one can easily give a vent to his / her creativity and take home a handsome pay packet. The booming animation market has opened newer avenues for all those who have a thing for painting and drawing.

The art of animation, a creative field which was earlier dominated by the West, has now India running as one of the most serious competitors. While cartoons are illustrations of a single diagram with varied meanings and expressions, animation is a rapid display of 2-D or 3-D images to create an illusion of motion.

In India, there are several career institutes offering Animation and Cartoon Courses. These career courses involve exhaustive career training for the job requirements in the field of animation and cartoons.

Cartoon Courses and Animation Institutes in India:

There are various colleges in India that offer specialized courses in animation and cartoons. These institutes help those who have a creative bent of mind and want to to earn a living from that. Some of the colleges are:

• National Institute of Design (NID, Ahmedabad)
• J.J School of Arts
• Zee Institute of Creative Arts (ZICA)
• Industrial Design Center (IDC), IIT – Mumbai & Guwahati
• Academy of Animation and Gaming
• Admec Multimedia Institute, Delhi
• Arena Animation, Delhi
• Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
• Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics, Mumbai
• Aptech Computer Education, Mumbai
• Zee Institute of Media Arts, Mumbai
• Asian Institute of Gaming and Animation, Bangalore
• Ants Animation Training School, Bangalore
• Image Institute of Digital Technology, Bangalore
• SAE Technology College, Chennai
• Pivot Animation, Chennai
• Artlab College, Chennai
• Raymax Multimedia, Chennai
• Brainware Computer Academy, Kolkata,
• Digital Asia School of Animation, Kolkata
• Animaster – The Animation Varsity, Kolkata
• Micro Pro Institute, Kolkata
• Sumeru Academy of Digital Arts, Pune
• Indian Academy of Digital Arts, Pune
• Tilak Maharashtra University, Pune
• Image College of Arts, Animation & Technology, Hyderabad
• Picasso Animation College, Hyderabad
• Palette School of Multimedia, Hyderabad

For those who are looking for graduation courses in animation and cartoons, there are many colleges offering both diploma and degree courses. But for those looking for post graduate courses, options are very rare. Among the colleges that have been mentioned above, the Industrial Design Centers in Mumbai and Guwahati offer post-graduate degree courses.

Basic qualification required: All those who want to pursue a cartoon and animation course, there is a basic minimum qualification required. Like for applying for a diploma course in animation, one should have passed the 12th standard examination from any recognized board with a minimum of 45% marks. For those who are looking for a bachelor’s degree program, the same eligibility criterion is relevant, while for the PG program, one must have a bachelor’s degree from any university or institute.

Benefits of these courses: As one can see that the animation & multimedia industry is growing rapidly, pursuing a course in these fields can definitely push your career. Moreover, if you have a flair for drawing or creating characters, a course in this field would help satisfy your creative spirits.

Prospects of these courses in India:

Of late, animation in India has witnessed a remarkable boom with Indian animations catering to the needs of several private and public sectors and indigenously produced animated films all over the world.

There are various T.V programs, advertisements / commercials and computer games that demand a huge quantity of manpower from the Indian market. Besides that, animation is used for creating special effects in films or in web entertainment programs. Thus, the scope for aspiring students of animation is vast in the context of the rising Indian animation market.

Scope of animation students in foreign countries: Though cartoons and animations don’t really seem to be products meant for outsourcing, yet Indian cartoonists and animators have begun working for foreign companies. Undoubtedly, Indian companies are moving ahead of their South East Asian counterparts in this field. The western countries are also favoring India over any other country as far as animation is concerned because of the following reasons:

* Good command over English speaking skills
* Cost to company (CTC) advantage

Handy Tips for Creating Animated GIFs from Videos

Animated GIFs are a great way to attract attention and add movement to your online space. GIFs not only make us laugh, some also express useful information in seamless motion. Memorializing your favorite scenes from movies or good parts of videos in GIF format is now a riot and it usually makes some extra impression than pure lengthy videos files.

So, have you ever wondered if you could easily make a funny animated GIF from your favorite movies or something you saw on YouTube and share online so that when your friends see it they are going to laugh and give more likes and comments. Well, now you can. You don’t have to own any expensive photo software or even be a graphic designer! All you need is creativity, a video source and best of all a powerful GIF maker tool that is affordable, relatively painless, and only takes you a few short minutes.

When you are going to make a GIF, there are a few things to keep in mind. A great GIF should be short, seamless, and salient since many spaces you’re going to post your GIF on usually have size limit and no one is willing to wait a long time for loading. You should aim for a GIF file that’s no bigger than a few megabytes or so, to be a good Internet citizen. So the size of your GIF should be as small as possible. And try to add some useful content to make your GIF more dynamic and compelling. After all, what makes your GIF worth the extra load time over a JPG or PNG?

To meet the above points, you should wait no minute to try a quick, yet versatile video to GIF maker at your best. Some may argue that the free online tool is enough. However, you must have neglected its security and restrictions of file size, frame rate, duration, watermark and something else. Let’s forget Photoshop if you want to save money and keep things simple, while VideoGIF can be your well-balanced solution which has been being the practical choice of millions Mac users in the world because of its reliability, ease of use, and superior performance.

With VideoGIF, you are free to add a video from your local video files, Webcam and YouTube URLs. There’s a dragging option that allows you to trim any good part of the video, then set it as your start and end duration. Controls within the app empower you to crop the video or resize it for optimal output. Text and stickers are offered as a must to touch up your GIFs if you are looking to add some humor or commentary to the video clip. You also have options to adjust colors, and apply filters to fine-tune GIF at ease. How about adjust the frame delay, sequence, and quality for your GIF? It’s no doubt that VideoGIF can be your ultimately handy helper.

If you want to show your friends/family directly what an amazing animated GIF you’ve made via Tumblr, E-Mail or iMessage, then VideoGIF meets all above and responds well to the call of duty. So all the GIF enthusiasts, what are you waiting for? Just use VideoGIF to capture your favorite moments and breathe new life into them.

Pros and Cons of The 4 Types of 2D Animation

As you might know, there are different types of animation, and today I’m going to focus on the types of animation you can do in 2D. Frame-By-Frame, Rotoscoping, Cut Out Animation, And Rigged Characters with Inverse Kinematics.

1. Frame-by-Frame

This is also known as Classical Animation, Traditional Animation or Flip Animation. What you do here is pretty simple, you draw each frame. Ha! Simple, right? I know. But wait, there’s a way to do it. First, you have to know your frame rate, which in the next example will be 12 fps (frames per second), and for that we will have to do 12 drawings for one second.

How to do it: You can do this by having the correct timing of the movement. First, you need a sample (if you are animating a character jumping, then you need a video of someone jumping).

Once you have the video, there are many ways to calculate time and convert it into frames. My favorite is: Stop Motion Works Stopwatch (link at the end of this article). In my example it will be a 8 frame jump.

What you do is: You draw the key frames of the skeleton of your character, and then, you continue by drawing the in-between frames. Let’s make an example of a female jumping (only the action, that means, no anticipation and no aftermath, to keep this simple and friendly). You draw the starting pose (frame 1), then the character in mid-air (frame 5), and finally the landing posture (frame 9).

After you have those 3 drawings, you draw a the in-between frames. A drawing between starting pose (frame 1), mid-air pose (frame 5), and landing (frame 9). In other words, you draw frames 3 and 7. And finally, you draw the missing frames. Easy enough? After the skeleton is animated for all the frames, you add detail frame by frame, a little bit of body form, then a more detailed head on every frame, then the right arm on all the frames, and so on. You continue until you have a detailed character on every frame.

Pros: Your limit is your own imagination. Characters can do whatever you want, have any facial expression you want and any pose you can come up with.

Cons: Takes a lot of time. Animating 1 second can take a couple of hours.

2. Rotoscoping
Rotoscoping is another form of frame-by-frame animation. What you do is you take a piece of footage and import it into your favorite 2D animation software. Now, all you do is draw the silhouette of every frame. Then you substitute those drawings with some details that make up your character. Big nose? Long hair? Fat? Thin?

Pros: You work a bit faster, because you don’t have to draw the key frames and then the in-between, you just follow each frame; and the motion is very realistic, because you just follow the footage frame by frame.

Cons: Even though it can be a bit faster than Traditional Animation, you still need a lot of time to do it, because you have to draw every frame, and also, you start to get limitations: The character will only do what the person in the footage does.

If you need it to do something else than what you have in the footage, then you will have to switch to traditional animation, drawing the key frames first, then the in-between.

3. Cutout Animation

This kind of animation takes preparation. You take each angle of your character (front, sides and back) and you “cut” the character into its parts (hence the name Cut Out Animation). For example, if you were to animate the front side, then you would have the head in one layer, the arms, forehand and hands for each side in a different layer, and so on. This takes time to prepare, but the good thing is that you don’t have to draw each frame, you only prepare once and then you animate the character as if it was a puppet.

Pros: It’s way faster to animate, because you don’t have to draw each frame, you only draw your character and each facial expression once, and after the “puppet” is ready, you can start animating.

Cons: It can take a some time to prepare and the character is limited by the rig. That means, you can’t put her in any position you can imagine, only those you can achieve with the rig. Another disadvantage is that it’s not the fastest way to animate, because if you want to move his hand, then you need to rotate the shoulder, then the arm, then the forearm until you get the hand to the place you need.

4. Rigged Characters (using Inverse Kinematics)

This type of animation is the fastest to achieve. Software like Toon Boom or Animation Studio have a lot of tools that help you rig a character with inverse kinematics and automate facial expressions.

Inverse kinematics are the opposite of forward kinematics (used in Cut Out animation). In Cut Out animation, if you need the hand to be in a position, you have to rotate the shoulder, then forearm and so on. Inverse Kinematics let you click on the hand and move it to the position you want, and the positions and rotations of the shoulder, arm and forearm are automatically calculated by mathematical formulas.

Pros: You animate at top speed. With just a few clicks and drags.

Cons: It takes longer to prepare than the cut out animation, but cuts your working time exponentially. Another disadvantage is that you have limits, you can only do what the Rig allows you to. You can’t move the character into any position you can imagine, but only into those allowed by the rig.

Conclusion:

You cannot have it all. You either have unlimited movement, but huge time investment, or you get limited movement with little time investment. These are the options you have. And for the record, Disney movies use frame by frame, but the shows you see on TV, because they are under schedule, they use a combination between Rigged Characters and Frame by Frame, depending on the shot they are working on.

My advice is, learn to do Frame-by-Frame animation and Rigged Characters, you need them both. But if time is a big issue, then you should definitely master Rigged Character Animation. You can find courses online.

4 Terrific Ways to Convert Videos to Marvelously Animated GIFs

Are you an animation fanatic? Are you a savvy go-getter with a penchant for converting your favorite videos to awesome animated GIFs? If you are not a technical savvy, don’t worry. Pick a smart video-to-GIF maker to get started. Here we go some of the best recommended GIF makers. You might have a look at that information for future reference.

VideoGIF for Mac

If you’re an active YouTube member, then you’ll want to check out VideoGIF for Mac. This versatile utility allows you to convert videos to GIF animations straight from YouTube videos as well as local videos very quickly with very little hassle. It works almost all common video formats such as MOV, MPEG, MP4, M4V, 3GP, AVI and more.

It is flexible to trim any portion of the video to use, as well as to crop, resize or customize the overlays, frame delay, sequence, effects and its color settings. If you don’t have a video in the local folders, just enter the YouTube URL from which you would like to create your GIF. You also opt to change the GIF animation speed and the output quality of the GIF. The highlight is that you can get accurate start time and end time for the overlays of text objects and sticks as what a professional GIF editor can do.

VideoGIF for Mac is a great tool for people who want to create incredible animated GIF as avatar, screensaver and cool element online. It’s a dead simple way to make your own GIFs for all kinds of uses.

Giffing Tool

Giffing Tool, a Windows GIF maker, allows you to create GIFs by recording your screen in a specific area you selected. Always remember the shorter the recording, the higher the quality. With this software, you can also trim video frames, add text, and adjust quality settings freely.

Giffing Tool is a fun tool for creating GIFs by recording screen. If you want to enjoy the fun of making GIF from a recording screen, it might be a nice choice.

PicGIF for Mac

PicGIF for Mac, just as its name implies, is designed mainly for or assembling images into GIFs. It displays the frames one by one as pictures in the app window. Does it work for videos? Yes, it works for videos too. PicGIF allows you to add the local video files as well as webcam videos to make GIFs. And it works as smoothly as the two above work. You are free to set your start frame and end frame or just remove any frame that you just don’t like. Besides, you can use PicGIF for Mac to create GIFs from videos, web camera, as well as your life photos.

Photoshop

Photoshop is well-known photo manipulation software which is the extremely powerful editor for editing images. It also helps users convert video to GIF, but you need to procure your own videos. A MP4 format is preferable.

You can trim the clip from a video as you want and tweak a lot of options to personalize you GIF. You may have some troubles to finish your GIF with Photoshop, but it’s worth it to explore and experience the challenge and surprise it brings to you.

The first three quick and easy to use GIF makes are for those casual GIF artists while the last one is a serious GIF action for those who enjoy challenge. There are dozens of GIF making tools, and I just list some of them. I’m sure you’ll find the one that fits you perfectly.