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What programs can be used to make animations?

I saw this stack exchange and thought it'd be the perfect place to finally ask this.

Basically, with Flash I use to make little stick figure animations. However, since then, I've lost the (pirated) copy of Flash 7 I had and really don't want to cough up a few hundred for a legitimate copy. So, are there any animation programs out there right now other than Flash? Bonus points for one that exports to a (somehow animated) vector SVG image. Or even one that just goes to plain MPEG.

The only thing I've seen are programs where you have to manually draw each frame and then put all the frames together into an MPEG... which is extremely painful


Microsoft's Silverlight platform is a direct Flash competitor and has been ported to *nix as the open source Moonlight (part of the Mono project). I've never used Silverlight or Moonlight, but I'm sure it can do animations. I'm not sure of the quality of the IDE though.

However, the current trend these days, and much more popular than Silverlight IMO, is using HTML5 Canvas+JS to do animations. However, again, the lack of a specialized IDE/animation app is probably gonna make it difficult to produce professional-grade animations. There just isn't anything like Flash/Director for HTML5 Canvas. (Mugeda is supposedly a cloud app that lets you create and host HTML5 animations, but I haven't used it.)

If you want to produce professional grade animations, then your best bet is probably Blender. Blender is traditionally a 3D animation platform, but as can be seen with South Park's use of Maya, 3D animation programs can also be used to create very effective 2D animation.

Other industry standard animation programs include:

  • Apple Motion
  • Maya (previously Alias/PowerAnimator/Animator)
  • Toon Boom Animate
  • After Effects
  • 1
    Supposedly, Adobe Edge is being developed for precisely what you say in the second paragraph. success.adobe.com/en/na/sem/products/…
    – NateDSaint
    Jan 26 '12 at 19:48
  • So what do people use to create HTML5 animations at the moment?
    – e100
    Jan 27 '12 at 18:02
  • @e100: I think hand-written JavaScript mostly, which explains why most of the examples of HTML5 animations are simple/short demos. All the cartoon-type animated shorts I've come across have been really crude and nowhere near professional quality. At this point it's more suitable for animating games rather than producing animated films, especially as most artists/illustrators aren't likely to want to learn how to code JavaScript by hand. Jan 27 '12 at 18:41

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