Skip to main content

Review: Cloud Animator - Create Interactive Explainer/Presentation Videos

Cloud Animator is a new, cloud based, animated explainer/presentation, video creation studio by Reallusion, who are better known for their flagship products iClone, CrazyTalk, and CrazyTalk Animator.

The best I can describe a Cloud Animator Video Presentation  is that it is kind of a cross between a Power Point Presentation, Animated Explainer Video, and a HTML5 application.

As someone who creates animated business explainer videos for a living, I've been a little perplexed as to what Cloud Animator is trying to be, and where I would use the videos created with it most effectively?

Now that I've taken a deeper dive into what it can do, by actually producing a sample presentation myself, I'm starting to understand the benefits of adding interactivity to a video presentation.

If you are familiar with Youtube's clickable, end card links, and in-video link cards, then Cloud Animator gives you a more advanced and feature packed version of that, without any of the limitations Youtube imposes on its creators.

Below is my three scene presentation, promoting one of my longboards, that took me just under an hour to create. It uses one video that I had already created and uploaded to YouTube, splits it into two parts, separated by a User Interface of clickable links.

The first link takes you to the rest of the video, included in the presentation, while all the other links take you to external web pages.



The above video presentation is hosted on my Cloud Animator account and can be shared via a link or by using an embed code - for embeding directly into a website. Presentations can be played on any device browser that supports HTML5 - which most recent devices do.

A short, shareable video presentation like this, is a great way to promote a product or service with direct links within the video to more information or the product's online store page. No more 'links in the description' as your links can be right there in the video in a visually enticing way.

As you would expect Cloud Animator can import video clips, gif animations, various image formats, audio, and more to help you create a unique video presentation about almost anything.

Where it differs from other video creation tools is that, as mentioned, you can also include clickable links within your presentation to send the viewer to other parts of the video or even to external links like your website. There's even options to link to phone numbers, email or send SMS messages.

If you're tasked with learning Cloud Animator to make presentations for your organisation, the user interface is fairly easy to navigate and learn - particularly if you've used other animation studios.

Cloud Animator's User Interface.

On the left side, thumbnails of each individual scene are shown. In the middle is the main stage/scene editor. On the right is the properties palette where you can access all the different elements, templates, and settings for the selected object in the current scene. Across the bottom is the timeline for the current scene.

Creating your own video presentation can be as simple as choosing a template to modify with all your own custom content, or, for more advanced users, starting with a completely new project and designing almost everything from scratch.

Included in the studio is an extensive library of design elements, including images, shapes, music, text to speech, animated effects and more.

Creating a presentation is pretty much a case of designing each scene layout, then deciding when and how the various elements might have effects and animation added to them. After that, decide where you want links to be and what they'll be linked to. The process is not complicated to learn at all.

My example presentation is very simple but you could use Cloud Animator to create a fairly self contained 'choose your own adventure' story, style presentation. Another application might be to create an educational presentation of discovery, with different paths, depending on the links you select. What about, instead of a landing page, create a landing video, with links to animations/videos detailing product info, benefits, testimonials, and the call to action all within the presentation instead of as text and images on a long form web page?

Cloud Animator is suitable for a wide range of video presentations. It could be improved with the addition of whiteboard enter and exit animations of a hand drawing or erasing various elements. It also falls down for presentations where you want characters talking on screen. It's not impossible to do but you'll need experience with additional software, like CrazyTalk Animator, to animate and lip sync your characters.

Cloud Animator's Business Premium Plan
unlocks several desirable features.
Currently there are three subscription plans, all of which can be used for commercial purposes. The free, Basic plan and the Advanced plan are virtually identical other than purchasing an advanced plan gives you considerably more of everything the basic plan has to offer.

The Business Premium plan is by far the best option as this unlocks the ability to host your presentations on your own server, or even offline. As well you can import MP4 video into your project, as opposed to only being able to import videos already uploaded to Youtube with the Basic and Advanced accounts. As well you can customize the player logo and gain access to project collaboration features. At US$199/yr the price is exceptional value compared to other cloud animation solutions.

As I said at the outset, I was initially unsure of what Cloud Animator was trying to be. I think that's because I'm so used to uploading completed animated presentations to a video hosting service, which I know you can't do with a Cloud Animator video presentation. Since Cloud Animator presentations are hosted on your account, you don't need to upload them anywhere. However, if you do want to host presentations on your own server, you can with the Business Plan.

The main difficulty I had with Cloud Animator is learning to think beyond the typical animated explainer video design. Essentially, Cloud Animator allows you to add a User Interface to your video so that viewers can control their experience. Maybe you just want clickable links to show up at the appropriate moment, or maybe you want the viewer to choose their own path through your animated video? The possibilities are exciting - and a little difficult to wrap your mind around until you start using the studio.

For presentation, info-graphic style videos it pretty much has everything you'll need. If you want to create whiteboard animations or have characters talk on screen, it's not impossible to do but you may need additional software like CrazyTalk Animator to achieve it.

Overall, Cloud Animator is relatively easy to learn (with plenty of video tutorials to get you started) and is packed with powerful features that you won't find in most cloud based, animation systems. Once you gain confidence with creating an interactive user experience the possibilities really are almost endless.

The fact that Reallusion has worked hard to make Cloud Animator presentations work on any device is probably the best feature of all. So many people watch videos on mobile devices and won't read long blocks of text. Finally you can easily give these people an interactive experience instead of a boring web page.

Cloud Animator is well worth considering if you want to engage your audience in a more fun and intuitive way.

Comments

  1. I really appreciate your site with all the helpful info sharing and excellent reviews... Your review of Cloud Animator was spot on and very informative. Thanks for a fine site! -Scott

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Scott, I'm glad you found this review, and my site in general, to be of use. Took me a while to really wrap my head around Cloud Animator in order to review it fairly against other solutions. I'm really warming to it now I understand its potential.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing, really a great help to choose right at right time with right price.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

I welcome, read, and respond to genuine comments relating to each post. If your comment isn't that save me some time by not posting it.

Popular posts from this blog

Make Disney/Pixar Style Characters with Reallusion's Character Creator and Toon Figure Bases

The Extraordinary Tourist Classic Coat outfit created using Reallusion's Toon Designer for CC3. I've talked before how I've wanted to get into 3D Disney/Pixar style character animation since I first saw the animated cutscenes for the very first Tomb Raider game back in 1996. It's why I initially bought Reallusion's iClone 3D studio app as soon as I could afford a computer that would run it. But then Reallusion released their 3D Character Creator (CC) for iClone and I wanted to create my characters with that (and I did try with Bat Storm ). But the focus of CC was realism, even with ToKoMotion's stylised body morphs . Now with Reallusion's Cartoon Designer bundle for CC3 which features two packs, Toon Figures , and Toon Hair , designing Disney/Pixar style 3D characters just got a whole lot quicker. The two packs are the bare essentials for creating Toon style characters. Five body morphs (2 male, 2 female, and one adolescent body morph that w

Create 2D Animated Characters with 3D Character Creator Tools and Artistic Filters

3D CC3 TET Character, based on my Oppa Doll Avatar, used as the base for a 2D CA4 character. One of my favorite things to do is to create characters with any type of Avatar/Character creator app. In fact the first test I usually try with these tools is, can I make an avatar of me (or at least my The Extraordinary Tourist persona). Previously I've used 2D character creators like Oppa Doll as a source of artwork for some characters I've made for Reallusion's Cartoon Animator 4 animation studio but 2D character creators are limited to... well 2D. 3D Character Creators While you may think 3D character creators have no place in creating characters for 2D animation there are quite a number of advantages including: No drawing skills required. Render characters in any style. Use an art filter or even hand trace into line art. Need to animate the character in a specific pose or angle? Render out an image of the character in the required angle and animate it in 2D. Quicker to crea

Artbreeder - Using AI created Character and Background Content in your Animations

A selection of User/AI generated images from Artbreeder. If you're looking for an endless supply of 2D character and background images for your animations then Artbreeder , an online Artificial Intelligence (AI) that generates image mash-ups you can tweak as much as you like, could be the ultimate content library. What is Artbreeder? Artbreeder is free to use though there are various paid plans, that give you additional features, such as higher resolution download images or more settings to play with. All images created on the site are Public Domain (CC0 License) and can be used in commercial projects. Using Artbreeder's online app you can generate head shot portraits, full body characters, landscapes, and other scenes simply by choosing two or more existing images to mash together then, using a series of sliders, to select which traits from each image you wish to lean toward in the final image. Photo Comparison - Top is my original uploaded photo. Bottom is Artbreeder's ap

Review: CrazyTalk Animator 3 vs Moho Studio Pro 12

Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 or Smith Micro's Moho Studio Pro 12. Which of these 2D animation applications is right for you? Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a strong supporter, and fairly proficient user of CrazyTalk Animator since version 1. It's a great piece of software for producing 2D animations from purchased content quickly and, with version 3, is easier than ever to create animations from your own art. Lesser known is that I first purchased Moho Studio Pro 12 (then known as Anime Studio Pro 9) back in October of 2012 and have been upgrading it to the latest version ever since because I believed in it as an application for creating great 2D animation to TV quality standard. As such, it's a much more complex application than CTA3 that I only got around to learning properly late last year. I'm still in the process of blogging my progress . Despite this I feel I've learned enough of Moho to compare it to CTA3 to help you determ

Review: Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 - Taking a Step Back to Move Forward

GRRR Dog by TET. Can I animate  this guy in CrazyTalk Animator 3? CrazyTalk Animator 3 's bold claim is 'The One-for-all 2D Animation'. Does it deliver? Could it be your 'go to' 2D animation tool of choice? Before I explore those questions I feel a bit of backstory is necessary. I've been using Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator since its original incarnation that promised quick and easy, 2D animation creation. An idea that was relative depending on what kind of animation you wanted to do. Since my focus has largely been on original character animation my experience with CTA is relative to that. If you wanted to create animated characters from your original artwork, quick and easy didn't really describe the time and effort involved. There was a lot of preparation and considerable time spent rigging its G1 characters.

Three Image Overlay Apps. Do More with Your Reference Images While You Work

PureRef's image overlay in action with Cartoon Animator 4. One thing Cartoon Animator 4 still does not have in stage mode is the ability to onion skin previous and next frames.  For those complete animation newbies among you, onion skinning is the ability to see through the current frame to your previous and/or next keyframes so you can see the progression of your character or object's movement as you create and adjust each keyframe. Usually the previous and next frames appear lighter so your current frame remains the key focus. This prompted me to look for a tool that could overlay an image over my work to use as a reference while still allowing me to work on the app underneath the overlay. I had seen, and even used such apps in the past but it had been some time so I decided to see what was out there, preferably free and/or open source, with versions for Mac and Windows. Overlay 2 There are actually a number of apps that do nothing more than overlay an image but the only one

Stylish Stick Figures for Cartoon Animator 4.2 - New Characters by TET

Stylish Stick Figures by TET. Animating stick figures is almost a right of passage for any animator who has ever made an old fashioned flipbook or discovered the free stickman animator app, Pivot Animator . There's also the hugely popular viral stick figure animation, Animator Versus Animation  and its sequels by Alan Becker that continue to inspire variations more than 12 years later. Back when Vyond was GoAnimate they had a stick figure theme that was popular site wide despite having many other themes with much more refined Saturday morning cartoon style characters. I even had my own stick figure series, Harry Chalk , on GoAnimate. Long story short, I was looking through the Reallusion Cartoon Animator Marketplace and discovered there really weren't any well designed, traditional looking stick figure characters. That's not to say there weren't any at all but I wanted something similar to GoAnimate's stick figures which included full facial features and male and