Review: MotionArtist lets artists become animators without learning code
At a Glance
MotionArtist 1.0 generates interactive HTML 5 video presentation of comics and more. This full release offers more customization of animation files, tighter recording controls, and better asset editing compared to the July 2012 beta. MotionArtist ($60, buy-only) makes animating images and text relatively easy for comic artists and web designers with imported files. Unlike with Flash, you can't draw in the program and then animate their creations. The focus is on animating existing image files from other sources.
MotionArtist opens to a default project designed by Smith Micro, showcasing various animation techniques. However, comic artists unfamiliar with using an animation program or film terms might find all the controls tricky to animate their comic pages. Imported PSD files maintain their layers for animation or the user can composite the layers into a single layer. JPG, PNG and MotionArtist vendor Smith Micro's Anime Studio are other supported file types.
MotionArtist has three different views: Director, Camera and Panel. Animators will recognize the toolbar and scene list, and the timeline setup with its default of 30 frames per second. Thanks to GPU acceleration, users can play working files back in real time, which assists in editing the video. In addition to using your own video, you can animate panels, text and speech balloons with various effects in MotionArtist.
Comic artists can use difference scenes to cut between comic panels or pages. For example in film, opening credits can be the first scene, followed by the next one of the characters walking into camera view. In comics, it can be moving from one panel to the next or page to page. MotionArtist is set up for multiple scenes, so comic artists can animate individual pages or panels and then cut them together for a single presentation.
The rub is getting familiar with MotionArtist to maximize the effects of a motion comic. A comic artist may have many layers of their comic art and have to merge them into different layers for animation output. Separate layers for each character, sound effects, backgrounds and so on in order to animate them individually. For more painterly comic pages, MotionArtist offers camera tilt, zoom and a parallax effect to create interest in moving from panel to panel.
MotionArtist 1.0 offers more animation control and options than its beta release. Web designers can use the program to generate quick loading, interactive graphics without Flash and ready to go for HTML 5. Comic artists willing to learn basic animation techniques and spend some time using MotionArtist will be rewarded with creating their own motion comics without learning lots of code.
Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.