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

* Thanks to constant spam comments by a Casino Marketing Moron who won't get the message that spam comments WILL be deleted ALL comments will be moderated and only cool, on topic comments will be approved.

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

Featured Animator: Christian Haynes - 'Zack In Time' An Original, Independent, Animated Series on the Rise

Christian Haynes - Zack In Time.  If you've ever wanted to create an animated TV series staring your own original characters and stories then Los Angeles based writer, director, and animator, Christian Haynes is taking those next steps of putting together a team, developing a pitch/trailer for their series, Zack In Time. Featuring professional studio quality animation, they hope the show will get picked up by an animation studio for an official series. The path he and his team are taking is one you could easily follow as they deal with real life commitments, and building a following on Instagram and Tik-Tok showcasing their work behind the scenes. TET: Tell me a little about yourself. Who you are, and why you started animating? My name is Christian Haynes and I've loved animation ever since I was a kid. I would constantly be drawing cartoon characters from TV shows and movies and making my own little homemade comic strips.  As I got older, I became a lot more interested in st

Wonder Unit Storyboarder - Free Storyboarding Software for People Who Can (or Can't) Draw

Wonder Unit Storyboarder.  As an independent and solo animator I'm always tempted to try and skip storyboarding my animated shorts because they're usually only single scene sketch comedy type jokes. As a result I have many unfinished projects that kind of petered out due to having no clear finishing line. Storyboarding your productions, no matter how small, gives you a step by step guide of every shot that needs to be completed (no planning shots as you animate). It also allows you to create an animatic that gives you a rough preview of the finished production. In short, you shouldn't skip storyboards as they, generally, increase the chance of the project being completed. Disclaimer - I'm Not a Fan of Storyboarder Upfront, Wonder Unit's Storyboarder  is not my preferred storyboarding software. However it's completely free, has a number of very compelling featu

Shotcut - Free Open Source Video Editor for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Shotcut Open Source Video Editor. I've been on the hunt for a while now for the best, free, open source, video editing application out there. In Shotcut , by Meltytech , which has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, I think I may have found a real front runner. This won't be a feature filled review, rather it will be my first impressions after having used Shotcut on a few of my YouTube videos so far. One of my key criteria for a video editor is the ability to import any video format directly into the project. This may seem like an odd focus initially but having convert video to something your video editor can use is annoyingly time consuming, and it creates a new generation of footage, potentially with a loss in quality if you don't really know much about video format specs (that's this guy right here!). Shotcut will happily work with my OBS recordings (.FLV), and .MOV, .MP4 files that I get from two different cameras. Not only that but Shotcut doesn't hold me up

How to Use Plask and Reallusion's 3DXchange to Create Full Body 3D Motion Capture Animation for Cartoon Animator

Last month I reviewed Plask , a free, browser based app that allows you to create 3D motion capture files for animation from a webcam or prerecorded video footage. At the time my hope was that Plask could be used to create 3D motion capture files for Cartoon Animator 4. Unfortunately my knowledge of how to export 3D animation motion files between applications is fairly basic and I wasn't able to figure it out. However, thanks to 3D animation enthusiast and game developer, Freedom (of the YouTube Channel Freedom Arts ), who published a tutorial on how to use Plask with iClone7 characters (in my review I wasn't able to work that out either) there is now a workflow from Plask, via Reallusion's  3DXchange , to Cartoon Animator that is relatively easy to follow and works well. Note: If you want to try this out, 3DXchange is available as a free 30 day trial download if you don't have it. Creating Your 3D Motion Capture File in Plask I'm not going to do a detailed run

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

KIT Scenarist - Free, Open Source, Screenwriting Software that Helps Research Your Ideas Too

KIT Scenarist Script Writing Software's Mascot, Alexander Cat. While you can write a script in any word processing app, if you're writing stories (screenplays) that feature characters and dialogue, a dedicated script writing app can save a lot of time formatting, letting you focus more on the actual story. Script writing apps are also very useful if you plan to send your screenplays out to production companies, or if you're collaborating with actors and other production people, who are used to scripts being in a particular standard format.  [Note: In case you're wondering there are reasons scripts follow a standard format and are always written in Courier (typewriter) font, including but not limited to; being easy to read by actors, plenty of space for notes, and the general rule that one page of a script (in this format) equals approximately one minute of screen time.] KIT Scenarist , in my opinion, is one of the best script writing apps out there for ease of use, simp

Creating a G3-360 Head From a Single Photo in Reallusion's Cartoon Animator

Source Photo from Generated Photos . Ever since Reallusion introduced the G3-360 Character Head into Cartoon Animator 4 I've wanted to see if their 360 Head Creator tool could be used to create an animated head using a photo. Part of the reason I've never given this a shot, until now, is that I just assumed it would be difficult, and require a lot of photo editing to blend out the sprite edges. It turns out, creating a photographic G3-360 head is not that much more difficult than creating a cartoon head, and can be done using a single photographic image using my own G3-360 head rigging system . While this article isn't intended to be a full tutorial, I'll run through the basic steps of how I achieved my photographic G3-360 head, shown in the comparison below, of a Cartoon Animator Morph-based head on the left, and my G3-360 head on the right. Pros and Cons Cartoon Animator's morph-based head system is ideal for animating photographic faces. It uses a semi 3D wire me