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Review: Animaker - 10X Better than other Online Animation Video Making software (#DIY)... or is it?

Animaker's bold claim, right on its homepage is that it's 10X Better than other Online Animation Video Making software (#DIY). Also featured on their homepage is a cool promotional video that's dynamic, full of charming lip synced characters, with high quality animation that matches perfectly to the story being told.

If I could make anything even half as good with their studio, I'll at least buy that they're better than most of their competitors. Let's see if they live up to their tagline 'Animated Videos, Done Right!'

Animaker is a flash based, cloud animation studio application that gives you access to an entire library of thousands of characters, props, backgrounds, sounds and more, to create almost any kind of 2D animated video. In fact they make the bold claim that theirs is the largest animated library in the world of any similar online application (it's not... or if it actually is, it's not as versatile as other comparable libraries) .

Plans range from free, with severely limited access to features, to a very affordable US$39/month  Business plan, and even a new $99/month Enterprise plan for creative/marketing teams, animation studios, and freelancers. In terms of pricing they've definitely met their own goal of being one of the most affordable solutions.

Animaker has six distinct styles of video including; 2D, Infographics, Handcraft, Whiteboard, 2.5D, and Typography. Elements from the various styles can be mix and matched as needed.

Once you click the Create a Video button you are presented with a bunch of templates grouped into free or premium and categorized under various themes/topics, or you can just start with a blank animation.

The studio is the very familiar (but not ideal - according to my own personal bias) Powerpoint style layout with your scene slides in a column down the left side of the screen, stage in the main window, content library on the right of screen, and some pseudo timeline across the bottom that controls everything in the current slide.

Animaker's Studio is the very familiar Powerpoint style
layout used by a lot of similar cloud apps.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with a Powerpoint layout. I just like to have a proper timeline across the bottom like most other video editors and animation applications I use. It's more intuitive, everything is laid out from start to finish, you can see the length of scenes visually along with where sounds, narration etc. actually occur. No clicking on a slide to find these things out. No swapping between dedicated timelines... it's all there.

For this review I'm going to bypass the templates. The ones I saw looked decent and professional enough. Just choose one, load it into the studio and start customizing it to better suit your needs. Standard stuff.

What I really want to know is can I make something as dynamic as the promo video on the Animaker homepage (which cynical me thinks wasn't actually made with Animaker - it's just far too good).

Art Style

Quirky characters.
The one thing I really like about Animaker is the artistic styling of all the characters, props, and scenes. It's a fun, quirky, unique style that leans more toward Saturday morning cartoons than corporate explainer video. Not that they look out of place in a corporate production, they just don't look out of place in really fun 'storytime' style animations either (where as strictly corporate styles might).

For the most part you'll use mainly Animaker's content library but, if there is something custom you need you can import your own images as jpg or png files. No animation formats such as SWF or video formats like MP4 are supported. (Some of Animaker's competitors support one or both - just sayin').

I wasn't able to test out all the themes for this review, but at a quick glance there wasn't a single one that I wouldn't use. All look extremely professional

The Studio

Almost everything in the studio can be
achieved with mouse clicks and drag'n'drop.
As I pointed out earlier the studio is set out very much like Powerpoint. If you're used to learning apps just by clicking on everything to see what it does then Animaker is  a pretty easy user interface to learn that way (that's how I learned it).

If that's not for you then video tutorials are available to get you creating fairly quickly (honestly, most people should get the hang of how to use Animaker inside an hour).

Almost everything is either drag and drop or adjusting sliders

Need Voices? Animaker Voice, Record Your Own, and Lip Sync?

Animaker Voice is a free, separate, text to speech tool that allows you to create computer generated, natural human, voices for your animation.

The process is as simple as copying and pasting your text into the text window, choosing a voice, previewing, and then hitting download when you find a voice you like.

There are a number of advanced voice modifications you can make to really fine tune your voices before downloading so it's worth running through the tutorial video to discover all the features.

Voices are saved as MP3 audio files. A single file can be up to ten minutes long which is more than enough for explainer and promotional animations. These files can be imported into Animaker's studio (or you could do further editing on them in dedicated audio software) or even use them in other applications).

The variety of voices available are fairly extensive, with some sounding more human than others. None are as good as an actual, professional voice artist. I wouldn't recommend using them for a complete narration unless you really had no other option, but if you've got a short piece of character dialogue you may just get away with viewers not picking up that the voice isn't a real human.

The alternatives to Animaker Voice are to record your own using either your own audio software or, if you have a mic attached, you can record directly into the studio. Obviously the latter bypasses the need to import.

Lip Sync

Although characters do have pre-animated speaking actions there is no option to auto lip sync their mouth movements to recorded dialogue. All you can really do is make sure your characters talking action is aligned to their voice clip in the timeline.

Infographics

The infographics theme is really good with plenty of options for animated bar/line/pie charts, tables, checklists and more. It's easy enough to insert your own data so if stats are something you need to present visually, Animaker has you covered.

Whiteboard

Whiteboard or Chalkboard?
Animaker has plenty of options.
If whiteboard style animation is more along the line of what you want to do then Animaker has quite a few options including whiteboard, chalkboard, glassboard, pencil, and even a stitched/dotted line style.

Graphics and text that have been optimised for the whiteboard theme look like they are being drawn (as much as anything looks like it is being drawn with a picture of someone's hand). Anything not optimized will kind of get 'scribbled' in from left to right.

Did I Make Something Dynamic?

The short answer is no... well kind of. Baring in mind, for my review I only had access to a free account, so I didn't have full access to the entire library of content. However I was still able to pull a fairly decent little promo video for Animaker together. Which you can view below.


Shorts Graphic: Designed by Dooder / Freepik 

My super rough storyboard.
My entire animation was created in about three days as I wrote my review. I wrote the script, recorded my voice, and even drew a rough storyboard.

My goal was to get the camera moving wherever possible and to try and use most of Animaker's features.

To that end I think my favorite scene is the first one where I tried to recreate a camera pan around my main character's desk using both Animaker's camera and by moving the actual character and props as well.

I tried to use the Record feature to give character's multiple expressions in the same scene. Most evident in scene three where my character is trying to convince an animator to work for 'the exposure' she'll get.

There's a couple of 'whiteboard' theme scenes in there and I also imported graphics I didn't have, such as my 'animated shorts' on the clothes line.

Is It 10x Better Than Other Similar Apps?

If I'm absolutely honest, I had a relatively good time using Animaker, despite not liking the Powerpoint UI, and the studio started to slow down a bit as my project grew.

Is it 10x better than anything else? No, definitely not. Certainly aspects of it are better than other similar services I've used but feature for feature Animaker falls short by a long way when compared to a service like Vyond (who are arguably the leader in this space).

Also of concern is that Animaker's studio is a flash application, which Adobe is no longer developing or supporting after 2020. Vyond's new studio is a full HTML5 application. Will Animaker follow suit?

Two things definitely in Animaker's favour is their cartoon art style and the cost of their paid plans (which are almost half the price of Vyond). Animaker's graphics are friendly and accessible making them ideal for a very broad range of uses.

Like all of these kinds of services, if the studio itself is intuitive and gives you plenty of options, what it comes down to is how well their content library adapts to your needs. Can you achieve your vision or is the content library too limiting? How easy is it to find workarounds for character actions that aren't part of the pre-animated actions? Are you compromising so much that your animations look nothing like what you imagined initially?

A sampling of Animaker's Content Library.

If you compare my storyboard to the finished animation the scenes are pretty close - and I didn't design for the content library. That is, at no time did a pause to look through Animaker's content library to see if what I wanted to do was even possible. Keep in mind, my free account has severe limitations on the available content too.

If you took the time to really get to know Animaker's content library I definitely think there is a lot of potential for some really great animations that go far beyond customizing a template. As well, the low cost of even the top tier plan makes it very attractive compared to other services (particularly if you're looking to start your own freelance animated explainer video service).

The bottom line is Animaker is a great cloud application for making explainer videos, or any kind of short 2D animation really. It's not the best but it's still pretty good. There's definitely room for improvement and new features (personally I'd like to see a character composer based on their art style similar to Vyond's). Overall Animaker is good value and may be all you really need for the type of animations you want to make. It's definitely worth a look.

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