If you have ever wanted to animate a 2D cartoon there are some choices out there but few if any reach the level of the latest animation tool from Reallusion, a company known for easier to use 2D and 3D animation applications among other things. You don't have to be an animation expert to use Reallusion products even though the products can turn out nicely polished videos. The great thing about Reallusion animation products is that fact that it fits home, hobby animators, citizen directors and commercial users.
Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator is basically the Swiss army knife of 2D animation applications. Now matured to its third incarnation CrazyTalk Animator 3 is 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. Now I know that is a tall statement but Reallusion has a habit of making tall statements with their products. Forget about only biped character driven stories unless your character is a screwdriver, a lamp, or a band logo. The possibilities seem endless.
Sure, CTA3 animates characters as that is one of its main purposes but that is just the beginning. We are given the choice of readymade characters, pre-rigged and ready to go with the G3 Character and Motion Types. If that doesn't suit your project, you can go your own way with the G3 Custom Character Templates or the fantastic G3 Free Bone Character method. The G3 characters and motions are ready made waiting for you to drop in to your next masterpiece. Pure drag and drop along the timeline. However, should you need to animate special artwork then the latter choices of the G3 Templates and G3 Free Bones characters open your projects to a world of possibilities. Creating a custom character is as simple as changing out the image on a template or by drawing out custom bones just as you would add bones in a 3D application like Studio Max. It is literally just a manner of a minutes to have a simple character like an animated mailbox, pencil, or phone. Your bone structure can be drawn out as comprehensive or simple as you need it because CTA3 gives you tools to alter and manipulate the bone structure.
Let's take a look at a real work scenario such as promoting a band on social media. The bands logo can be imported into CTA3, bones added in a minute or so then ready for animation. You can have a rocking logo for a rocking band. I mean actually dancing to the bands own music no less! If you are producing a Do It Yourself video you can easily add animated, cartoon tools. Areas of an image can be pinned to a certain bone so it reacts like you want it to instead of having a mind of its own. It's all a very straight forward process and long removed from the rocket science that used to scare off many would-be animators.
Readymade motions, readymade characters. Custom motions, custom characters the list goes on and on. From a full-fledged cartoon to web based banners CTA3 is a powerful tool that makes its user look good and that is important too! There is also a large marketplace of CTA content and an active community of users. The Reallusion forums are a great place for information and asking questions or seeing what other users are doing. Installation was straightforward as with most Reallusion products and it worked right out the box. Long time in-house tutorial expert Kai DeNeve provides some excellent tutorials to get you started. If you are already a 3D animator and if you use Reallusion's iClone you will catch on quick as you go through a somewhat familiar interface in different packaging. They aren't exactly the same but moving from one to another is not that difficult.
Having used Reallusion products for over a decade and at times working with them on various projects I have come to respect the long-term vision of the company. There has always been a roadmap of some sort to guide the development of products and to say that Reallusion listens to its users would be an understatement. All versions to date are the product of soliciting, listening to and acting on community driven requests. In fact, some of us long time users have joked amongst ourselves about being careful what we ask for in testing and the forums because you're probably going to get some form of it. Now they can't act on every request from every user but Reallusion is known to incorporate requested features from individuals if it makes sense and doesn't break anything else.
If you've no prior experience with Reallusion then you will be pleasantly surprised by their upgrades. Mid version upgrades seem to be just as comprehensive as the main upgrades with the best part being the incremental upgrades are free. Reallusion also provides upgrade pricing for the major releases. For an upgrade example, iClone 6 is now up to 6.53 in free upgrades. Reallusion also has a habit of allowing customers to buy a certain amount of content before a major upgrade and get the upgrade or first time purchase at a reduced price or free. I have never felt shortchanged by a Reallusion product upgrade.
2D animation has its own quirks, irritations, and frustrations but this reviewer found that CTA3 has eliminated a lot of those problems allowing the user to get the job done without losing creative focus over endless details. The interface is clean and easy to read. The layout puts a lot of features and tools at your fingertips reducing the "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome. I have been pleasantly surprised by the power and ease of use packed into this version. If you are considering cartoon driven, 2D based animation, with fast turnaround, then you need to give serious consideration to Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website.