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Science, Maths & Technology
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  • 5 mins
  • Level 1: Introductory

DIY animation

Updated Wednesday 16th September 2009

The 15th September 2009 edition of Digital Planet looked at Kenya's growing animation industry. Here we explain how you can try your hand at animation from the comfort of your computer.

If you've ever fancied creating your own digital animations, but been put off because it all seems just so darned complicated, then fear not. Because now there's a wide range of tools to get you started.

The following applications are referred to in an activity taken from a new Open University short course Digital Worlds: designing games, creating alternative realities.

Simple animation

Aniboom Shapeshifter lets you create simple Flash style animations within your browser. If you would like to try doing some ‘low level’ animation, this is a good tool to get you started. So why not look through the gallery for inspiration, write down a brief description of, or storyboard for, your animation, and get started...

Direct a film… at your desk

Xtranormal is an online tool that puts you in the shoes of both screenwriter and film director, as described in this Friday Fun post from the Digital Worlds blog. All you need to do is write a dialogue-rich script for a short film, select your actors and film set, and then it's easy to make your own movie.

If you're not so hot on the drawing side, and would rather focus on developing an animated story, or short narrative, then this is a great tool to use. As with Shapeshifter, it's worth checking out the gallery to see what other people have managed to do. Why not recreate a scene from your favourite movie?

Watch

An example animation created in Xtranormal by LeadGem

Read

 

Keith

Oh Jess, I made a fool of myself.

Jess

Why man, what happened?

Keith

Well, you know I’m a lateral thinker.

Jess

Oh my god!  Here we go again. Go on, how bad was it this time?

Keith

Well, a lady came around to the flat to buy the computer I built.

Jess

Oh so you finally finished building it.  That’s great, man.

Keith

Yes, thanks.  In a way she was quite impressed with it and everything was going so well.  We were chatting about her eBay business and her pet King Charles spaniel called Kevin.

Jess

Ha-ha, I love human names for dogs.

Keith

Yes, well as usual things went pretty downhill quite fast from then on.

Jess

Why?

Keith

Because she asked if I had any business cards.

Jess

So what’s wrong with that?  You just had 700 printed, didn’t you? 

Keith

Yes, but I gave her about 20, a wad of about 20 business cards.

Jess

Why did you do that?

Keith

She had asked me, if I had any business cards - plural. 

Jess

And you thought she wanted some business cards - plural?

Keith

Exactly, but obviously she only wanted one.  I just didn’t think.  I just heard the words ‘business cards’ and I jumped straight up and gave her a whole wad of them.  What the hell was she going to do with 20 business cards?  I am so dumb.

Jess

Ha-ha, what she did do?

Keith

Well, she did look a bit surprised, but then she just smiled and said thank you.

Jess

Keith, man, you shouldn’t worry about it, honestly.  She probably never gave it a second thought.

Keith

Yes, I know, but it seems so obvious to me now, that she only wanted one.  Why didn’t I realise that at the time? 

Jess

Man, stop worrying about it, like you said you’re a lateral thinker.

Keith

But?

Jess

Forget it.

Keith

But?

Jess

No buts.  Let it go Keith.  This is funny, I wish you could just chill out and see the funny side. 

Keith

You’re right.

Jess

Come on, Keith, you still have 680 business cards left, so that should be enough for 34 people

Keith

Ha-ha.

2’11”

An extra dimension

Once you've mastered the basics, and feel ready to engage in a bit of fully blown 3D design, why not try out the Blender 3D Studio? There are plenty of tutorials to help you get started, and even a free textbook on Wikibooks.

Share your work

If you do create your own animation, send a tweet with a link to your creation, using the hashtags #digitalplanet and we'll look out for them, and maybe even link to the best of them.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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