If you've been making flip books all summer and want to graduate to the next level of DIY animation, we recommend the vast resources of the Internet.
Even your business can add value to presentations with simple animated videos, without going to great expenses.
There is a host of animation tools online that won't guzzle your money, as there is no expense involved in training. Most have steep learning curves. They load faster than a full-featured desktop animation software.
Such software usually gives you a set of characters, some props, and backgrounds, to use in your animation. The tools manage to stay free because the objects and effects you can use are limited.
But think about this: sometimes, limited resources can force out your creativity more dramatically than having too many options!
Give rein to your imagination with the following tools:
Animaker's free version lets you make as many 2-minute videos as you want, but you can only export up to 5 of these every month. You can upload SD quality videos directly to YouTube from the online tool, which makes it great for creating How To videos for your YouTube business channel. You can also create cartoons if you want. Camera effects, curve tools to make your characters move along curved paths, and 9 characters to choose from can beat many paid software out there.
With the free version, you get some sound effects, music, characters, infographic icons, charts, and animated maps for use in your animation. Even if you decide that you want the paid version, you will find the price, and what you get for it, may be cost-effective for your business compared to some of the other tools on this list.
2. Raw Shorts
Introducing Raw Shorts.
This animated video editor is a tool that helps businesses cut the time and cost necessary to create high quality animated explainer videos, video ads, video infographics, product videos, and much more. It's super easy to use and one you should definitely keep an eye on.
Keep in mind that they just launched their HTML5 builder (in private beta) — which should provide even greater felxibility and support for users.
Powtoon's free (and limited) version will come with a watermark. Plus your video will be limited to a 100MB file size. However, you can export your creations to PPT and PDF, even though you can't download them. Free sign-up will get you animated charts and graphs, 46 royalty free tunes. and 16 free styles that you can use on videos up to 5 minutes long.
Powtoon's paid packages are quite expensive, but your small business may be able to use the free version for internal presentations, PDFs, and collaborations.
Animatron is a truly free and powerful application for the web. It gives you some great-looking pre-animated sets to choose from. The free version contains enough images for animated GIFs and videos, with sounds, narration, and music. You also get a timeline to work on scenes where you can add text, import your images or photos, and embed HTML5 code.
You can do very well without the upgrade (except for the watermark), though upgrading will get you photographs to add as backgrounds and other objects in your animation. Note that the free version will limit you to five public projects, which means that Animatron may be a good option only a few times.
Frequent users will find that the paid upgrade is not very expensive if you pay for a years' use.
5. Zimmer Twins
If you don't mind Flash animations - and don't mind using two characters, the Zimmer Twins - in your work, then this tool can be fun to use. It's more geared towards kids, so it makes a good place for little ones to try their hands at animation. You have a small library of actions, expressions, and backgrounds to use, but they're charming and appealing for kids. Overall, it's a good and simple free tool from Canada that you may find some inspiration from.
Moovly is an excellent, almost-free tool with powerful features. You can pick objects from the Library of Moovly objects or import your own. Drag and drop to the 'Stage' or the working area, where you can move objects around, rotate, scale them, add text, record audio, and create scenes on an intuitive timeline. Moovly is great for creating infographic videos and presentations for your business.
For lots of other features, you can upgrade to a $5 per month pricing, if you think you're going to find yourself using it very often.
Designed for creating presentations and educational videos, Voki's layout and features in the limited version are simple. You get a basic Voki character set and the ability to add audio (though this is limited in length to 60 seconds). You can select the background, customize the avatar and add voice to your video. Voki targets teachers, though we're sure creatives can find other uses for the tool.
Voki is not much of a tool for creating a 5-minute long story, but it's ideal for creating an animated speaking avatar. Getting your avatar to speak is simply a matter of calling a number and leaving a message, or typing a greeting to be spoken in a computer-generated voice. Unfortunately, you can only use the free version for live presentations, since embedding is not allowed without an upgrade.
GoAnimate is not entirely free. If you don't mind the watermarks, you can create and share videos for 14 days after sign-up. It lets you create whiteboard animation, 2D animation with a variety of backgrounds, themes, characters, and video infographics. You can import PowerPoint presentations and jazz them up as well.
However, if you do use GoAnimate, you'll find there is enough customization where you can fully express your creative ideas. You don't need any animation skills or technical skills to master the application. For nearly all elements of the application, you have the choice to customize or pick from a library of predefined objects. This gives you a lot of creative control over the video or infographic product that you're making, and also makes GoAnimate one of the best, professional, non-technical animation tools that businesses are using today.
Animasher doesn't seem to have a website anymore. However, you can download the web app from Softonic to use. It's a simple, intuitive, animating software that works on a very straightforward principle. You start a movie by hitting the record button, and any movement you create by dragging and dropping objects and images into the workspace will simply get played back.
Of course, you can only achieve a certain level of storytelling with this app. You can't add expressions, for instance, so your characters can end up looking more wooden than puppets. But for many uses and scenarios, such as a presentation in which you want to go beyond PPT but don't want to make a full-fledged movie, it can be quite adequate.
The applications on this list vary in quality nor are all their features free to use. However, depending on your business needs, you can tweak what is available, innovate, and come up with new ways of making training videos, explainer videos for customers or employees, and much more.
These free sites are by no means replacements for professional design for your company's promotional ads, for instance. But for what they are, they do quite a good job. The web-based applications on this list get mostly geared towards education or professional training videos.
You don't have to limit yourself to these uses. Everything from simple YouTube infographics or memes, to comic skits with Voki, to little adventure-style animation following the lives of Eva and Edgar is possible with this list of animation tools.
Do you prefer other animation sites? Let us know in the comment section below!