If you’re considering video to enhance your ecommerce site, think about making a cartoon. In addition to the novelty factor, animation has several advantages over live video. You won’t need a physical set, a camera, or a crew. And there are a wide variety of free or inexpensive animation programs that allow novice users to create animated content in a short timeframe.
As an example, here is an episode of the animated web series SpaceHospital that I recently launched with my partner. The episode was produced over two days. No money was spent on production, allowing us to focus any resources on our marketing efforts.
Here is a list of tools for creating animated videos. There are downloadable software programs and online applications, 2D programs with automated templates, 3D modeling environments, and sophisticated rendering platforms.
Anime Studio. Anime Studio is an inexpensive system to simplify animation and avoid frame-by-frame work. Auto trace your own artwork and then animate it. Import recorded audio and automatically lip-sync to characters. Work with vector based art, in 2D or 3D space. Price: Debut is $49.99; Pro is $199.99.
DigiCel FlipBook. DigiCel FlipBook lets you draw right on the computer with your mouse or tablet. Or shoot your rough drawings under a camera for speed and then scan your cleaned-up drawings for quality. Use storyboards to edit and time your story. FlipBook also provides tools to help you paint your drawings quickly and easily without having to learn or go through a lot of difficult steps. You can add pans, zooms, rotation, blurs and dissolves and then export movies that you can play on a television or post on the Internet. Price: Lite version is $78; Studio is $298.
CreaToon. CreaToon allows you to do cut-out-shape animation without having to set every single frame. Just set certain keyframes and the computer will do the in-betweens. Thanks to the real-time preview and the keyframe editor, you can easily fine-tune your animation until you are satisfied with the result. Price: Free.
Toon Boom Studio. Toon Boom Studio is a simple-to-use animation software for producing online content. Create animation with a variety of drawing tools. Import and animate media elements — such as digital pictures — and capture live images. Connect a character to simple-to-use bone animation tools. Price: $249; Animate Pro is $899.
FotoMorph. FotoMorph is a simple program for creating animation that morphs one photo into another. The program is limited. This is a helpful tool if you want to morph images. It’s easy to use. Price: Free.
Pencil. Pencil is an animation/drawing program that lets you create traditional hand-drawn animation using both bitmap and vector graphics. Pencil is intended to be a simple program enabling anyone to make 2D animation. Pencil is free and open source. Price: Free.
GoAnimate. GoAnimate is an online application to make animated videos, quickly and easily, without having to draw. Create your own cast of characters. Choose from more than 50 template characters, 150 poses, 20 backgrounds, 20 music tracks, and 200 props. Use the template voices, or record your own. Price: Business plans start at $25/month.
Wideo. Wideo is a free online platform for creating animated videos. Use it to promote products or to explain concepts. Choose a template you like, insert objects from its library or your computer, animate them and share your video. Wideo is new; enter your email for beta access. Price: Free.
Synfig. Synfig Studio is a free and open-source 2D animation software for creating film-quality animation using vector and bitmap artwork. Use vector-based elements and animation-keyframes to produce smooth high-quality 2D animation, without working frame-by-frame. Price: Free.
Blender. Blender is a free open source 3D content creation suite. The platform provides a wide toolset from modeling to sequence editing, allowing the creation of complex animations. While this platform is beyond the needs of product sites, the 3D component can be used to design sets for 2D animation. Price: Free.