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Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3.1 Review

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A few months ago our reviewer, M.D. McCallum, said that CrazyTalk Animator 3.0 was "...a powerful tool that bring 2D drawings and artwork to life. That's not just a snappy little marketing line either as just about anything that you can imagine can be rigged, easily, in some manner to animate." High praise indeed for such an inexpensive and easy to use program.

Now Reallusion has released CrazyTalk Animator 3.1 which has several excellent additions to the program. They listened to user input and built new features that not only help animators create new animation and characters easily, but they've also managed to keep the fun factor high. Creating characters and scenes inside of CrazyTalk Animator 3.1 is even better now!

What's New in CrazyTalk Animator 3.1
Reallusion has enhanced CrazyTalk Animator 3 into an even better 2D animation tool infused with the power of importing and animating PSD files directly. With CrazyTalk Animator V3.1 (CTA 3.1), you can do anything CTA 3 can do. The new features of CTA 3.1 are:

  • Convert your 2D artworks to G3 Characters through PSD Templates and animate (Pipeline version only)

  • Save facial parts independently for future reuse.

  • Replace G3 Characters under stage mode.

  • Several new Timeline enhancements.

Using CrazyTalk Animator 3.1
CTA 3.1 is laid out very logically. You have a main staging window, a timeline at the bottom and the content manager on the right laid out in tabs. The tabs change the content manager window to fit the type of content you are looking for: project, actor, animation, scene and sfx. It's easy to expand and contract areas in the program in order to work specifically within one feature.

There are a couple different workflows in using CTA 3.1 depending upon what you are trying to accomplish. If you just want to set up a scene, toss in a character and start animating, Reallusion provides tons of content and character motions to do this. That's one of the reasons why CTA 3.1 is so much fun. It's literally 3 clicks and you've got an animated scene.

The key new addition in CrazyTalk Animator 3.1 is the ability to import PSD files for characters you've created and then animate them inside of the program. You do this by placing the the characters body parts into their corresponding folders. Once this is done, you are ready to animate. Note that PSD files from Photoshop, AFFINITY, Xara, CLIP STUDIO PAINT and KRITA are fully supported by CTA 3.1

I also found that being able to save facial parts of your character for use on other characters to be a valuable time-saving addition to the program. The process is slightly complex, but once you do it the first time succeeding efforts are much easier and faster in CTA 3.1. This is my favorite new addition to the program

G3 characters in CTA3.1 can also be swapped out while you are in Stage Mode. This is another big time-saving improvement as you don't have to go back over the whole process to try a new character out. Here is a great short video that explains the process:


And finally, the enhancements to the CTA3.1 timeline are outstanding. I use a super wide screen monitor, so timeline work has always been easier for me as I simply dock it in a new space. However, the enhancements made to the CTA 3.1 timeline are not just space saving, but are designed to make the workflow easier and faster. Here are the changes added to the timeline:

(1). Added: Ctrl + mouse roll to move timeline back and forth.
(2). Added: Right mouse click on motion clips to reset speed.
(3). Enhanced: Alt + mouse roll to zoom in / out working area.
(4). Enhanced: Alt + drag to stably move working area.
(5). Enhanced: Sub-track added will be automatically highlighted.
(6). Enhanced: Motion clip shows icons instead of long texts such as Time warp, Transition Curve and Elastic Motion Curve.
(7). Enhanced: Ctrl + left mouse click to select multiple clips.

Final Thoughts on CrazyTalk Animator 3.1
Software that claims the "easy to use" feature can often lack features that a new user needs when they become more familiar with the program. The user then moves on to another program that gives them a deeper tool-set. It is rare to find a program that combines both assets: easy to use but with a deep, professional tool-set.

CrazyTalk Animator 3.1 is an excellent update to an already powerful and fun animation program. 2D animation is expanding its user base with advertisers, popular youtube channels and webcomics using more and more animation to entertain its users. CTA 3.1 with it's direct import of PSD files and other useful additions is a very serious option for these new users. Simplicity, a clear workflow and powerful animation tools combine to make CrazyTalk 3.1 not only a powerful animation program, but one that is fun and easy to use. Something you can't really say about other 2D animation programs which are much more expensive and complex to use.

I recommend CrazyTalk Animator 3.1 highly and urge you to give the demo (for Mac and PC) a try. I love working with this program and I think you will, too.

Buying CrazyTalk Animator 3.1
CrazyTalk Animator comes in three different flavors all of which are affordable. Beginners to 2D animation can start with the Standard edition which is $69, the Pro edition which is $139 and the Pipeline edition (reviewed here) for $269. You can read a comparison of what each edition offers here. Reallusion also offers several bundles which combines one version of the program with additional media and high-quality tutorials. Note that the Pipeline edition is the only version of CrazyTalk Animator 3.1 that features the PSD import function. Too bad you don't get this on the Pro version as well. Still, each version is a good deal and is recommended depending upon your goals and finances.

Links

My thanks to Bill and John Martin for help in putting this review together and for providing a copy of CrazyTalk animator 3.1 for review.

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2D Animation, Cartoons, CrazyTalk Animator 3.1, web comics
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