How do I Choose the Best Open Source Animation Software?

Sonal Panse

Open source animation software is animation software that is offered for free along with its source code. Such software is a popular alternative to expensive, proprietary animation software, and can have powerful comparable features. The availability of the source code further adds to its appeal, since it allows different developers to modify or develop the software as required.

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

To choose the best open source animation software, it is important to know what type of animation the software is going to be used for. There are different software programs for 2D and 3D animation. It is a good idea to research the available open source software on the Internet and to make a note of the ones that are in prevalent use in the animation community.

Open source animation software may be downloaded online.
Open source animation software may be downloaded online.

Many professional and amateur animators and film-makers use animation software from open sources. It may be possible to find the details of their experiences with it on blogs, websites, message boards and other online forums. The animation work they have done can give one an idea of the different ways in which a particular open source animation software may be used.

The next step is to visit the websites of the various animation software vendors offering open source downloads. The websites will have detailed information about the open source animation software, together with help files, tutorials, blogs or videos. Since the software is free, it is possible to download and check it out practically. Before downloading the open source animation software, it is necessary to make sure that it is compatible with the available computer hardware and operating system. If the software is going to be used by multiple users, it also needs to be compatible with the available computer network. Otherwise it may be necessary to upgrade the computer technology to accommodate the open source software.

For a large number of users, it is possible to first install open source virtualization software on the computer server, and then deploy the open source animation software on that server. This reduces the number of hardware servers required to use the software on different computers. Instead of several servers, a single server can be sufficient to run the software for multiple users.

For animations that are to be displayed on websites, an open source CMS can be used to store the animation file names. The animator can write customized programs in open source PHP to read the animation file names. The program will select and display the animation on the website.

After the software has been downloaded and installed, inexperienced users may need to spend some time learning how to use the interface. Experienced animators too may require some practice in getting used to different interfaces. The best open source animation software will have an easy to use interface, good functionality for different levels of handling, and excellent support.

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Discussion Comments

anon1003259

For hand-drawn animation software, your best bet is Pencil2D as it's really user friendly. If you want quality hand-drawn animations, try Krita instead because of the toolset it has over Pencil2D.

For vector animation software, your best bet is Kage Studio as the easiest to use. Synfig often comes to mind, but the learning curve is really high and not that intuitive really.

With knowledge on vector animation and tweening, you can start trying 3D animation with Blender, but if Blender is too complicated for you, try "Art of Illusion" 3D software.

wander

Can anyone recommend some good blogs or magazines that talk about choosing the best open source animation software?

I would love to hear from users about their own experiences modifying these programs and see the kind of work they have created with this software.

For those who are new to the scene, do you think that open source animation software is user friendly? Or does it require a good amount of know how before you should start fiddling around with the programs?

I know a lot of the paid software has plenty of available books and tutorials, but do the free versions also come with this kind of support?

popcorn

If you choose to use open source animation software can the programs still read files made on the traditional costly software?

I find that while I like the paid software, it can be very expensive to upgrade and maintain. I would like to be able to switch to something free and modifiable, but without losing all of my past work done on other software.

If open source animation software can't read a file format, is there a way to convert the files? I would be willing to switch software if I could still have access to files created on the mainstream programs.

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