After you’ve designed and developed 60 million eLearning courses, you’re bound to start looking around for something new. I think I’ve found that newness in the easy-to-use animation tools that are now available.
Here, I’m going to take you on a tour of GoAnimate, where I think you can have a creative and fun experience.
As a newbie, I found it quite easy to create animated videos through their drag and drop interface. To start, you select a theme from many styles, a few of which are shown below. The theme is the overall type of animation. There are many more that aren’t shown, such as Anime, Stick Figures, Cartoon Classics and Chibis (ask the next child you see what those are). I chose Whiteboard Animation for this little demo.
Creating the Video
Once your theme is selected, you are in the work area, as seen in the screen capture below. The drag and drop backgrounds, characters and objects are on the left. You’ll also find tools for adding sounds, text and recording audio. The stage for the animation is the main window.
Beneath the main window is the timeline for adding scenes (see below). An animated video is composed of many scenes. You start a new one for every new action or sound byte. To add a new scene, click the + sign at the end of the timeline. When you add a new scene, the background and characters remain intact so the animation flow is continuous. It’s that easy. As to the duration of each scene, you can specify it exactly or drag the scene object longer or shorter.
I found the user interface of GoAnimate to be quite intuitive. Things worked like I thought they should. When you select an object, the available actions display. For example, upon selecting a character or object, a small toolbar displays above the element (notice the toolbar above the little girl below). This gives users a set of quick options to swap the asset, add movement, flip it, move it forward and backward or delete it. You also get a wider selection of options on the left, such as for creating actions, recording dialog and adding entrances and exits.
I can’t go into all the functionality of GoAnimate and I’m sure I have more to learn. But here are a few more options that you’ll like. There are loads of actions and poses that each character can express, including varied emotions. Below is a character from the Business Friendly Theme, where you can see the arrow pointing to a palette of different emotions and camera angles. Another set of options are in Scene Settings. You can show just a part of a scene (called ‘Compose’) and create camera movement. You can also add transitions between scenes as well as entrances and exits. And you can import any of your own characters, backgrounds and props to create your own library of objects.
Saving and Exporting Your Movie
There are settings for making your movie private or public. If you choose the latter, it may be visible on the GoAnimate site. You can export to YouTube and other video sites and embed in Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites. If you want to use your video with an authoring tool, you have the option to export it to an MP4 format (1080p, 720p, or 360p). The conversion process can take awhile (like hours), particularly for the larger videos. GoAnimate will notify you by email when the video is ready, so don’t expect to export and have it available immediately if you are in a crazy rush.
I was impressed with how quickly it’s possible to come up to speed with GoAnimate. The user interface is well designed and the pricing is reasonable. I can’t wait to use it in a course when the right one comes along. What else would I like to see? An HTML5 export option would be nice. Mark Deaton of GoAnimate told me they are working on that right now. I’d also like to see an easy way to resize the video. Perhaps that option exists and I didn’t see it. Finally, I’d like to see more diversity in the whiteboard animation characters.
I created a brief and simple whiteboard video below with speech bubbles rather than audio to demonstrate what I completed in around 30 minutes. (I did spend more time than that tweaking and playing around.) I never did figure out how to make it larger, other than by getting into the HTML embed code.
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