For the past four months, I have been hard at work on some software that I am very proud of. The project is called Animake It, and it is a tool that lets anybody easily animate things in their browser using content from around the web. With Animake It, you can make things like this Destructoid themed animated collage (note: this super early build of the software only works 100% in Chrome, and to a certain extent in Safari).
**Note - for the tl;dr crowd, there are a whole bunch of animated collages halfway through, and a gift for the Destructoid community at the end**
What's the point?
The internet of today LOVES funny, cool, and artistic things that can be shared easily. This includes all the cat videos on YouTube, the various popular internet memes, and all kinds of creative works that have gone viral. However, the majority of easily shareable content generated on today's web are image macros - AKA text on an image. You know what I'm talking about! Things like this:
In my opinion, the reason for this is that image macros are easy to make. All you have to do is go to a website, upload an image, type in some text, and BAM! - you're done. You don't need to install Photoshop, After Effects, or comparable software (which cost hundreds of dollars if you are getting them legally), and you certainly don't need to spend years learning how to use them well.
That said, image macros have been a standard since 2007 (or earlier, depending on who you ask), and I think that our wonderful internet society is capable of much more. Don't get me wrong - I think image macros are fantastic. Certain emotions are best communicated with them, such as the Mario image above (which rings true with me). However if I want to create something without time and patience today, I am limited to image macros. Sure, I could open up Photoshop (assuming I know how to use it) and create something awesome in there - but anything worthwhile would take time, something that I don't always have.
With animated content, things get a magnitude or two more difficult. Of the 30-odd people that I knew making animations 5 years ago (myself included), only one of them still animates today. Why? Because it is way too hard. This 4 minute animation that I wrote about in the c-blogs back in 2008 took me a whopping 500 hours to create. Granted this included a lot of design, storyboarding, testing, and more - but still, 500 hours is 500 hours.
Enter Animake It
Four months ago, some friends & I started working on Animake It. Our goal was to make a tool where you could create an animation in a matter of minutes, without any prior experience. I'm super stoked to be able to say that we have succeeded with our goal.
In the above video it takes me about 30 seconds to create an animation from start to finish. (The extra 3 minutes in the video is almost entirely narration.) 30 seconds! Anybody who has worked on animations before will tell you how crazy that is. Making something like this in Flash or After Effects would take a solid 20 minutes for somebody who already understands the products well.
That said, Animake It will not replace traditional animation software anytime soon. In fact, it was never intended to! Amongst other things, it is incapable of frame-by-frame animation - something that's necessary for professional animators. What Animake It is meant to do, however, is play a role akin to that of image macros: give people without time & patience a new creative outlet.
All of the above examples use still images & GIFs as their source material. However, in addition to this, users will be able to integrate YouTube & Vimeo videos, SoundCloud audio, webcam streams, & even entire webpages (using iframes) into their animated collages. The animation system that we developed is completely content-type agnostic - so long as the content can be visualized in a browser.
Here is a video where I remix Nyan Cat on a developmental build of Animake It:
Right now, we have a fully functional prototype running. I think the various links & videos above should be convincing enough of that. ;) However, we still have a ton more work left. Specifically, we need to build an interface that can accommodate all the media types that we want without feeling clunky and being difficult to use. Again - our whole goal with Animake It is to let people without any experience to easily create animated collages.
Additionally, we need to build out a gallery for the platform. This gallery would serve as an aggregator for all of the different creations that people make. It would also let people upvote, downvote, and comment on everything. Last but not least, we also need to build a basic user management system.
To make all of this possible, we launched a Kickstarter campaign last week. If any of you guys really dig what we're doing and would like to back us, that would be amazing!! It would also be awesome if you'd be down to share this with family & friends of yours that you think would be into the project.
For the Destructoid Community
Destructoid holds a very special place in my heart. While I haven't been too active in the past couple years (projects like this take a lot of time, yo!), I used to spend hours here daily for ~5 years starting in 2006 (year 1 baby!). I have so many fond memories from this place, and almost all of them are due to the fantastic people that make up the community. I never got to meet most of you in person (there weren't any meetups near where I lived), but it was quite obvious that there were many-a fantastic character here. Thank you all for everything!!
I'd like to offer you all a Destructoid-centric version of the Animake It editor. This would be an editor that you don't need to login to use. Anybody would be able to create and save animations. Unlike the main editor that we're building, however, it would not be capable of using any asset from the internet. Instead, it would be limited to artwork created by the general Destructoid community (including some art that we've created in-house). Would any of you have any interest in something of this sort? Are you totally against the idea? Let me know in the comments!
If you do like the idea and want to make it happen, then some of you fine guys & gals would need to contribute some of your work to the experiment. Are you such a person? If so, do you have (or want to create) either: 1) background art suitable for animations, or 2) foreground objects with transparent backgrounds? Please let me know in the comments and/or PM me! To be clear (in case it isn't), you would retain total ownership and credit for your work, and we would never use it anywhere outside of this editor & creations made with it.
If there is legitimate interest in this (and I hope there is!), then I'll make this happen. Thank you for reading all this! :)
About thisissami One of us since 3:53 PM on 11.25.2006
favorite games/series: final fantasy, zone of the enders, kingdom hearts, ratchet and clank, jak and daxter, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Portal/TF2, LitleBigPlanet, and The Grinch (the best PS1 game ever).