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Review: Renderforest 3D Explainer Toolkit - Fast Cloud Animated Video

I first reviewed video creation site Renderforest back in November of 2017. Since then they have been adding more and more content packs/tools to their cloud based video creation studio, branching into animated explainer video territory in the process (as well as logo and website design too).

This review is focussed on their 3D Explainer Toolkit, but keep in mind, along with several different animated toolkits (including whiteboard), Renderforest has toolkit/templates to suit almost any video need from logo stings and music visualizations, through to complete video templates that can be highly customized with your own content. Click here to browse their template library.

I am planning to review some of their other animated toolkits in the future but their 3D Explainer Toolkit particularly caught my eye because few (if any?) similar cloud animation services offer 3D animated styles.

Global animation customizations in Renderforest's Studio.
Renderforest's editing studio revolves entirely around mixing and matching pre-animated scene templates, then customizing each scene with your own text, images, or video clips, depending on what each specific scene has placeholders for. You can then customize your color scheme, add music or voice over, before publishing/downloading the final video.

Almost everything is done for you other than arranging and customizing the scenes. While you can still make a dog's breakfast of everything if you have no flair for design whatsoever, most people should be able to achieve relatively professional looking results quickly.

3D Explainer Toolkit includes 700 scenes in many different categories e.g. Male Character Animations, Female Character Animations, Occupations (Male Characters), Occupations (Female Characters) etc. giving you a lot of options and combinations.

When you open the studio you are given three options:

  1. Load a preset script - by far the easiest option, this is a complete video focussed on a specific generic topic, such as Product, Service, or Education, and more, that you can customize to suit your specific needs. Most useful for very general promotions focussed on broad ideas.
     
  2. Add My Script - This is the first option I tried because I was interested to see the initial results. Enter your text script into the text entry box and the studio will break it down into scenes, automatically choosing templates for each scene based upon keywords from each line of your script. All your script's text will be included onscreen throughout the animation.
     
  3. Add Scene - essentially this is as close to starting from scratch as you can get. Choose you first scene, customize it, choose your next scene, customize it, etc. etc.

As I mentioned I started with option 2 and was quite impressed with the initial animation that was automatically generated. It wasn't perfect by any means, I did go in and replace scenes with ones I thought worked better, but the animation still worked before I started customizing it.

Here's my result, a short promotional video for my Animation 4 Business service, after my customizations and scene changes, below.



The end result does the job and definitely would work as a general promotional video. I made the video in only a few hours, baring in mind I spent a lot of time exploring options and trying different things for the purpose of this review. I'm sure I could have easily made this in less than an hour if I'd stayed focussed on creating just the animation.

In theory, as a person with a background in Graphic Design and Animation, I thought I should be able to create an even better animation by starting completely from scratch.

As it turned out, doing this really emphasized the compromises you're making when designing from fairly rigid templates.

The majority of template scenes in the 3D Explainer toolkit are consist of a plain color background with an animated, 3D character or prop placed to the left or right of some text. I wanted to showcase more of the 'Background Scenes,' a category of template scenes that places the characters in an actual environment such as an office, city, outer space, etc. Unfortunately this limited my options to just 30 scenes templates.

Some of the 30 'Background' Animated Scene Templates.

I also wanted to add narration, rather than have the words appear on screen. My original audio file (used for a version of this animation created with Vyond) was 36 seconds long and didn't align with my scenes due to most scene templates having a minimum length of 5 seconds. Some of my lines were intended for scenes that lasted 2-4 seconds, including transitions, creating faster paced visuals.

Renderforest does have an Advanced Audio Trimmer tool, that specifically helps you time recorded dialogue to your individual scenes but it's only available to people who have purchased an annual subscription. Which I think is unfair given that people who prefer to pay per video, because they know they won't get value from even the lowest annual subscription, pay at least eight times more per video than the cheapest annual subscription package. They should have access to all the editing tools to make their videos the best they can be for the price.

I understand that certain features are held back to encourage subscription purchases, I just think the Advanced Audio Trimmer is a basic function of any video editor, and not having access to it only encourages the use of alternatives. Case in point, since I didn't have access I used an audio editor to adjust my narration timing to align with my scenes before uploading it as a single audio file to the studio.

My final animation is below. I think the quality is comparable to the previous one that was partially auto generated based on my script. I certainly don't think it's better due to the severe limitations of wanting to feature more 'background' scenes and not being able to cut scenes any shorter than five seconds.



Overall, I think Renderforest's 3D Explainer Toolkit is a great option for creating animations that deal with broad subject matter across many different industries/topics. You could certainly use it to create an eye catching series of videos for a general promotional campaign across social media.

The more specific the information you need to present the more compromises you'll make to bring your script to life. You may find yourself using a lot more animated text scenes with dot points, or including more of your own custom images and video clips inserted into those template scenes that have placeholders for such custom content.

There are more versatile cloud animated explainer video options out there but if you specifically want the 3D look then, off the top of my head, I can't think of one that's this easy to use.

Renderforest's tools are all free and, as mentioned, you can purchase single videos (to remove the watermark) if buying an annual subscription seems like more than you want to spend right now.

It is worth looking at the subscription options as you gain features like longer videos, more storage space, more music tracks, etc., and don't forget, this is just one theme/toolkit from hundreds available  for all kinds of video applications... and they have tools to assist with logo and website design (coming soon) too.

If you like the 3D look Renderforest's 3D Toolkit is well worth checking out.



Disclaimer
This article contains Renderforest affiliate links but 
is not paid for or sponsored by Renderforest. 
The views expressed are my own and the demo animations shown were purchased as single video downloads.


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