How do I Choose the Best Computer Animation Programs?

Tara Barnett

There are many different computer animation programs available, and which is the best depends on your budget and the type of animation you will be doing. Many people believe that learning to work with programs considered standard in the industry is the best way to start out because even though it will be more difficult to get started, they will be better prepared to work as an animator by understanding the program. Some people choose to use programs that fulfill only the bare basics of animation and display images at a defined frame rate to create the illusion of motion. There are programs for 3D and 2D animation as well as programs for specific types of animation, such as Flash or stop motion. Choosing the best computer animation programs simply involves considering your needs and finding the program that best fits those needs.

A flower drawn by an animation artist.
A flower drawn by an animation artist.

The specific computer animation programs available change from year to year, but different basic types of programs remain relatively consistent. Computer animation programs serve to assist an animator in creating the illusion of motion in some way. Some programs are designed to take information like pictures and words and animate that information based on certain commands. Others are designed to place images one after another and, in some cases, add features like sound. Which features are offered by different programs changes year by year.

Animation software with automated tasks should help animators reduce their time spent drawing.
Animation software with automated tasks should help animators reduce their time spent drawing.

The most basic type of animation program puts one image after another and does nothing more. This kind of program is useful for creating small animations for the Internet. Slightly more advanced programs are often able to pair sound with the images to make a fuller animation.

Computer animation programs are capable of much more than simple frame-by-frame animation. In some programs, you can compose characters out of different elements and move those characters over time without animating each frame in turn. Programs in 3D animation are capable of much more complex animations and usually involve characters that can be positioned like actors throughout an entire film. Not everyone has the money or the computer power to run these programs, so more modest free alternatives may be a better idea.

Which program is the best program depends on your needs. Looking at animation that is similar to what you wishe to accomplish and finding out how that animation was done is often the easiest way to achieve a similar effect. You may not have the same budget as a professional company, but there are many lower-cost alternatives with similar features. Taking advantage of the free trial offered by many programs can help figure out which computer animation programs are best for your needs.

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