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Does anyone know of any good, free, safe 2d animating software? I'm planning a 2d animated short and need some help with software.

 

Also, is Synfig Studios a good resource?

Thanks in advance.

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Hi, Sarah...

 

Blender is a totally free, 3D modeling & animation package, which contains inside it a complete 2D animation suite called Grease Pencil. I've gushed about Blender in past threads and won't do it again, but this is a really powerful piece of software that's only free because the Blender Foundation is headed by a wonderfully generous eccentric who feels that the world should have good software, for free. He & his team are doing a spectacular job...

 

I will not say that you'll learn it quickly or easily, but most people only learn the pieces they need, and it's an amazing set of skills to have. You don't have to learn anywhere near all of it to begin producing interesting things.

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1 hour ago, Wes B said:

Blender is a totally free, 3D modeling & animation package, which contains inside it a complete 2D animation suite called Grease Pencil. I've gushed about Blender in past threads and won't do it again, but this is a really powerful piece of software that's only free because the Blender Foundation is headed by a wonderfully generous eccentric who feels that the world should have good software, for free. He & his team are doing a spectacular job...

 

I will not say that you'll learn it quickly or easily, but most people only learn the pieces they need, and it's an amazing set of skills to have. You don't have to learn anywhere near all of it to begin producing interesting things.

@Wes B, what kind of animation do you do? 

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11 hours ago, Sophie said:

@Wes B, what kind of animation do you do? 

Apologies in advance; this might be a whole lot more than you asked for... Over the past year, I've been a very enthusiastic student, learning the vastness of Blender. It's a lot like the kids in the Narnia stories, starting with what looks like a very useful and practical wardrobe, and finding that it leads into this huge and unimaginable world.

 

In my life, I have a deep enthusiasm for reading the Bible, and am a huuuge Bible history nerd. Most all of my Bible reading almost screams about a wonderfully different culture, and amazingly different people. We may largely miss them as we read with modern, western eyes. The spiritual truths of the scriptures are clear to everybody, but there's another charming and beautiful layer in there that adds so much flavor, but is so easy to read right past.

 

My writing & my website aim to illuminate some of that, though that's been on hold for (more than) a year, as I've been learning to make animations to complement it all. The initial concept would have involved simple whiteboard animations, which will still have a role, as they give visual simplification to what many might shy away from, presuming it's "too hard," even though it's really not.

 

The "problem" is, Blender is so vast that I keep finding more and more things I can do, and I want to establish a common "style" that will run through the stuff i put online. Yet that remains a moving target as I keep unpeeling the layers of this onion.

 

So f'rexample, traditional 2D animation likely has a fixed camera, viewing a flat page, and it's worked really well for so many. But Blender's Grease Pencil is a 2D animation suite that sits in a 3D world, and it allows me to draw strokes in 3 dimensional space, with a moving camera, allowing what could essentially be a 3-dimensional whiteboard, occasionally including 3D solid objects, among the 3D strokes. Concepts like character rigging, where characters are created as "puppets" that don't have to be laboriously redrawn for different frames are eye opening, and the sophisticated controls that are possible for those puppets are both fascinating and distracting from my main goals.

 

It gets worse. There's a very large programming language that's available to the user, and I often get deeply lost in the weeds, learning all I can do there. There's a dazzling number of addons made by other people in that language, and while people are allowed to sell things they write and sell support for them, they must also allow them to be freely distributed by others, so there's this dizzying array of stuff out there to check out, and "unscrew the lid" to see how they work.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE TO SARAH!!!!!!!

 

You don't have to learn all this stuff to do 2D animation in  Blender!! I hope this didn't scare you off from it. These are just possibilities you can follow if you decide you really want to use it's power.

 

Back to Sophie... If you're interested in animations and are doing or are consider doing them, I'd be really interested in hearing what you're doing. I'm really looking forward to being able to state the type of animation I "do". I hope to have better focus in a month or so. (It's always a month or so...)

 

 

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14 hours ago, Wes B said:

 

Back to Sophie... If you're interested in animations and are doing or are consider doing them, I'd be really interested in hearing what you're doing. I'm really looking forward to being able to state the type of animation I "do". I hope to have better focus in a month or so. (It's always a month or so...)

 

 

@Wes B thanks! Appreciate your response. Sarah Daffy and I are working on an animated short. I would love to see your work sometime! 🙂

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8 hours ago, Sophie said:

@Wes B thanks! Appreciate your response. Sarah Daffy and I are working on an animated short. I would love to see your work sometime! 🙂

 

Okay... that will be a good motivator for me to get into that focus I keep planning on. Right now, I've got lots of little "demonstrators" and tons of notes & descriptions of effects I've been able to make happen. When I'd initially tried making animations, I'd regularly find that I couldn't perform various effects I'd scripted out. The controls didn't work as simply as I'd expected, or maybe I just didn't have enough experience with the software. So I'd get stuck in a lot of places.

 

So I attacked the problem from the other end; I started learning just how to make lots and lots of different effects, and heavily documented how to do each one. Now I have a catalog of things i know I can make work, so I can write my scripts using operations I'm likely to succeed at.

 

Now I'll want to go back and rewrite those old scripts into produce'able scenes. Time to get practical.

 

So, what kind of animated short are you & Sarah planning to make? And have you settled on the software you'll be using?

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5 hours ago, Wes B said:

So, what kind of animated short are you & Sarah planning to make?

A little bit of a Pixar style with a 2D storybook look. We came up with the storyline a couple days ago and are scripting and storyboarding and figuring out the logistics to get a general idea of what we want (the super early stages now). 

 

On 3/28/2021 at 8:34 PM, Wes B said:

Blender is a totally free, 3D modeling & animation package, which contains inside it a complete 2D animation suite called Grease Pencil.

Thx for suggesting that. I think we're going to try it. 

 

5 hours ago, Wes B said:

Now I'll want to go back and rewrite those old scripts into produce'able scenes. 

You really should! What kind of scenes are they? For short films or what?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Sophie said:

Thx for suggesting that. I think we're going to try it. 

 

Let me know if you definitely decide to go that way. I can suggest some videos & stuff to get you started. By default, Blender starts you off in a 3D world with a blank cube, surrounded by enough controls to frighten a jet pilot. (Not exactly where a 2D animator would want to be...) It's not hard to use, but at the very start, you're taking a drink from a firehose. We can at least make the hose as small as possible...

 

1 hour ago, Sophie said:

 

You really should! What kind of scenes are they? For short films or what?

 

I'm all about the Bible, and am fascinated by its people, their world, and how God related to them, and relates to us today. I'm planning instructional videos to encourage people considering taking a little dip into God's Word. Many hesitate, because they think it's hard, or obscure. I'm looking to portray it as not only enlightening, but fun, fascinating, and worth spending a lifetime of study. But we're taking little steps, in what I hope will be happy, whimsical little flashes of insight. 

 

I'm trying to develop a style that will use simple line drawings, to set a mood for how the basic simplicity of God's message is accessible to everyone. (If it could appeal to shepherds and fishermen, imagine what it can do with us!) I'd like the animation of those simple lines to be a lot more sophisticated, to help convey the depth and surprises to be found in the adventures ahead.

 

So I'm thinking very hard about using visuals to create an underlying mood in ways that really enhance the narration. (No, I don't know if i have a handle on all this yet... yes, I do know how to pray. A lot...)

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Hey, @Sarah Daffy...  I use a very basic Intuos USB drawing pad, plugged into a one-year-old Windows 10 computer. It runs two very large monitors, creating a desktop that extends the full width of my computer desk. 

 

Sometimes, I wish I had more room...

 

I can see evidence that there are people who use smaller screens, like on a laptop, to do excellent work. Still, this will slow down your workflow.  Evidence of occasional small screen use comes from various YouTube instructional videos. Drawing tools tend to rescale themselves differently for different screen sizes. You can see this if you open a drawing tool like GIMP in full screen mode, then drag the window size down to a quarter of the screen. The drawing area becomes very limited, at the expense of increased real estate taken up by all the controls around the border of the window. (While the drawing area can be shrunk to any size, the controls become unusable if they're too small, so their size tends to remain constant, and they eat up a greater proportion of the window space...)

 

I've no doubt you'll do good work with whatever is available, but bigger is definitely better when it comes to digital artwork, so start with the largest screen size that's available to you.

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19 minutes ago, Sarah Daffy said:

Have you heard of Open Toons, @Wes B?

 

Just some really basic basics (what I'm thinking of is spelled OpenToonz, though. Same thing?) I had a chance once to quick-browse some courses on it that someone I know has: from SkillShare I think...

 

For the past month or so, I've had a tab sitting open in my my browser to their page on github, so one day I'll check them out, For Real... Seriously... Real Soon Now...

 

As with so much in life, there are big tradeoffs to make. My first impression is that it would probably be much easier for a newbie to pick up OpenToonz than Blender. That said, you'd also plateau-out faster, 'cuz your options would be much more limited.

 

If you have very specific needs that will never change, it's possible that this will get you where you want with minimal time & effort. Also, I think you were taking some moviemaking courses. If you have end-of-semester deadlines that won't bend, you might pick this as the safer bet that you'd get your projects done on time. But I have no experience with it, so I couldn't warn of any problems; I have no REAL knowledge, though it won't stop me from talking...

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On 3/30/2021 at 5:04 PM, Wes B said:

I'm all about the Bible, and am fascinated by its people, their world, and how God related to them, and relates to us today. I'm planning instructional videos to encourage people considering taking a little dip into God's Word. Many hesitate, because they think it's hard, or obscure. I'm looking to portray it as not only enlightening, but fun, fascinating, and worth spending a lifetime of study. But we're taking little steps, in what I hope will be happy, whimsical little flashes of insight. 

 

I'm trying to develop a style that will use simple line drawings, to set a mood for how the basic simplicity of God's message is accessible to everyone. (If it could appeal to shepherds and fishermen, imagine what it can do with us!) I'd like the animation of those simple lines to be a lot more sophisticated, to help convey the depth and surprises to be found in the adventures ahead.

 

So I'm thinking very hard about using visuals to create an underlying mood in ways that really enhance the narration. (No, I don't know if i have a handle on all this yet... yes, I do know how to pray. A lot...)

@Wes B, neat! Sounds like a great tool for teaching. You could share some with us on here maybe. . . (when you're ready). 😃

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1 hour ago, Sophie said:

@Wes B, neat! Sounds like a great tool for teaching. You could share some with us on here maybe. . . (when you're ready). 😃

I'll do that, and this will give me a bit more motivation. Most of what I'll be doing will be answering some very simple questions that I see over and over again on the r/Christianity group on Reddit. There are so so soooo many people asking things like, "Where should I start reading in my Bible?" or, "How can we believe in one God when we talk about three?" And there are so many people who query in real anguish, after some bull-in-a-china-shop-Christians have filled them with guilt about... just about everything.

 

I sometimes get deeply thankful responses when I answer some of their comments, and wondered how many anxious hearts might have been set at ease if, say, they'd had Bob Ross as a Sunday school teacher. I'm working toward simple truths, simple animations, all happy, reassuring, and loving. (And hey, I can even sneak in a pointer to my website...)

 

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