Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Brain Divided" - Animation Short

Here's a humorous and well-animated short from Josiah Haworth, Joon Shik Song, and Joon Soo Song:

related web page: *

Monday, September 23, 2013

After Xtranormal - Some Alternatives for Easy Animation

Up until recently a lot of people were making animated YouTube videos with a limited but very easy to use program
called Xtranormal.  Although Xtranormal did not have the power or flexibility of a more traditional animation program, such as Blender, K-3D, Maya, or Cinema 4D, one could, with a little creativity, use the program to produce some pretty neat videos by writing a simple script which the program would then animate. Text to speech and lip-syncing were included. Xtranormal seemed particularly suited to creating short comedies and many of those created became quite popular on YouTube.

In late December of 2010, however, Xtranormal began charging fees to users for some services which were formerly free (such as publishing a video). Then in June of 2013, the company announced that they would be shutting down their web site services down after July 31, 2013 (thus making it impossible for Xtranormal users to continue producing videos).  This indeed took place, and since August 1, the Xtranormal website has basically been replaced by a big "pause" button.

So what alternatives are there for someone looking for the same type of capability with similar ease of use? Three
alternatives which seem to fit the bill reasonably well are iClone, Moviestorm, and Muvizu.  All three appear
reasonably easy to use, provide access to multiple characters and props, and are available for the Windows
operating system (Moviestorm is also available in Macintosh format).  All three come with lip-syncing features.
All three appear to rely primarily on importing recorded speech rather than (as was the case with Xtranormal) on text to speech. (Moviestorm has a limited TTS feature, see comment by Phil Maker below).  There are stand-alone TTS packages that can be purchased but using the voices from many of those packages can be problematic in terms of what the license does (or does not!) allow, or expensive, or both, so often it might be better to just record your own voices.




None of the three are free for commercial use.  iClone and Moviestorm have to be purchased (although you can try
them out for free, non-commercially,  for 30 or 14 days, respectively).  Muvizu is free to use, but you have to pay the company (by minute of footage) to get the Muvizu watermark removed and allow commercial use. [3/23/2014: Or you can buy Muvizu+]

Another interesting animation program is Plotagon. It actually looks more similar to Xtranormal than the other three to me. In particular, it appears to have a text to speech feature. As of this writing, however, it is still in beta mode, contains some rather restrictive terms of use, and allows upload to Plotagon only (no YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).  It will be interesting to see what it evolves into over the coming months.

I wish I could say that I found an open source program that does everything Xtranormal did, but I can not, at least not yet (although Alice certainly has some of that functionality).  Given the rapid rise in the quantity and quality of open source programs in recent years, however, I predict that it is only a matter of time until we see an open source program which equals and eventually surpasses the achievements of Xtranormal.  Perhaps someone could build on the SmartBody platform or build on one of the many open source graphics or game engines now available. Let's hope it is soon! *

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Animation Experiment using Daz Studio Pro 4.5 and an imported object

I rendered a short animation in Daz Studio, testing it with an imported object (the creature).  I created the creature in Sculptris and exported it in wavefront/obj format before importing it into Daz. All of the other objects in the scene came from the "Genesis Starter Essentials", which were included with Daz Studio.

Beauty vs Beast

The animation for the woman came from the "punch" animation included with the Genesis Starter Essentials.  As the creature in this case was just a static object with no rigging, its animation possibilities were more limited - I rotated it and moved it for a rough approximation of falling down.

related web sites:,


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Girl and Robot (short animation)

Here's a whimsically endearing and well animated video by Mads Dam Jakobsen, Kenneth Haunstrup, Nils Henric Wallmark, and Slaven Reese ("The Animated Workshop"):

related web site: *