The animation software market is huge, and there are hundreds of different programs and packages out there, to satisfy every type of customer. In this report, I am going to focus on just two. Adobe Flash CS5, which I used to make the Battle of Hastings animation. I am going to compare this with a software program called Blender.
Adobe Flash CS5 Animation
Flash animation is created in a program Adobe Flash, and exported as a .swf file. Both have a facility known as ActionScript. This means that the person creating the animation can make things happen, depending on the controls that the user inputs. For example, somebody could script that an animation of a car on a road would turn right when the user presses the right arrow key, then
when the user lets go of that particular key, the car stops turning right, and carries on going forward. This makes using ActionScript very popular for making online games, these are usually browser based games and are accessed through websites such as Miniclip.com and Arcadetown.com.
Can be used to write websites
Flash can be used as an alternative to Dynamic HTML, as a website coding alternative. This website can be animated. Although not as popular as Dynamic HTML, Flash websites are still widely used. However, there are a few drawbacks. These being that the coding is often much more complicated that HTML, and many users can find it harder to grasp. Also, the browser will need to have an add-on called Flash Player, in order to read these websites, which is not a huge problem for PC users, but that particular technology is still developing for Mobile Phone and Tablet users.
With the advent of HTML5 however, I would suggest using this over using flash to create websites. The SEO and device support benefits are make HTML5 much more attractive. If you are building educational maths games, online animations or other web-based visuals, I would definitely advise the latter.
Like most Adobe products, Flash is a lot of money to purchase. To buy, it is around £680-£700. Most ordinary people cannot afford to spend such an extortionate amount of money for one piece of software. In many cases, this is more money than the computer that they are using to run the software will cost, and only serious hobbyist users will buy Flash. That is why this software is mainly used by professionals. Another common complaint is that upgrades are sent out, which cost money to download and apply. Equally, Adobe releases a new Creative Suite series around every year, so your £700 software is then outdated.
Whilst I was creating the Battle of Hastings animation, I found some of the concepts of flash were quite difficult to grasp, and I see myself as somebody who is quite skilled with computers, and I learn relatively quickly, so I think somebody that has little computer experience, and struggles with basic computer software, will find a program like Flash almost impossible to use. Even the basics, such as frames, layers and tweening, were complicated concepts.
A common complaint about Flash from their users is that it takes up both Hard Drive Capacity and RAM. Hard Drive Capacity is taken up by the program itself, and also by the files that it exports. This obviously gets on user’s nerves, because it takes up valuable space that can be used for other programs, as well as documents, films and music. The RAM usage is an even more serious gripe, because if your entire RAM is being taken up by ne program, it makes multi-tasking slower, and generally slows down your entire PC.
Blender is Open Source, which means that anyone has access to it, so it is completely free to download from the internet legally. That means that if you choose Blender over Flash, then you have saved yourself £700, which really does make a huge difference to a large amount of people.
Unlike Flash, you can make 3D animations on Blender. This makes your animations more lifelike and therefore more believable to the audience. The building of the animations and shapes resembles that of Google SketchUp; the user creates a series of straight lines, and then places them upon the screen. As you can see to the left, there is a grid underneath. This grid is used as a map, to show users where their shapes are in relation to the other shapes, and the user has a 360 ° view. The arrows that are placed around the cube are where the user has programmed the cube to move to.
As Blender is open source software, it allows third party Add-ons. These can be downloaded from the internet, and are uploaded by users and they basically add-on extra features to your software. This is a positive because different people have different perspectives and ideas, so you could get features that make your user experience more fun or interesting. This
could also cause negative effects, as people could use this to send you malware, disguised as Blender Add-ons
No user interactivity
Unlike Flash, which sports facilities like ActionScript, you cannot create Websites and Games with Blender. The animations are purely visuals, like Videos and Pictures. So if you are trying to create a user experience, it will be more limited than it would be with Flash.
Using Blender is even more complicated than using Flash. There are many more commands and settings to play around with. The layout is more difficult to grasp, as it does not have the traditional timeline with key frames, like most video editing and animation software programs have.
If you are asking me which one I would recommend out of these two programs that I would recommend for Mr. Badger, as a school teacher, would be Adobe Flash. This is due to the fact that it is easier to use than Blender in the way of creating animations. Also, there is a large bank of online support at your fingertips.
The other reason that I recommend it is that you are not going to be using the more complicated elements of the software, like ActiveScript, so it isn’t really an issue, and if you are going to be creating simple animations, then Flash really is perfectly suited to meet requirements. You can use the tool box, with the pen, fill, paintbrush and lasso tools, like they have in Photoshop, which allows you to draw what you want, which is a much simpler concept than creating points to join together with lines.
I think that it is worth the £700 investment then, but if you do not feel comfortable spending that amount of money, then you can download Blender free on the internet.