Recently, we received rather funny animated card via e-mail,
complete with 3D characters, telling a story customized to
specifically fit us and our relationship with the sender. While it
wasn’t the most sophisticated animation, the characters smoothly
lip-synced the customized dialog. We knew the person who sent it
wasn’t particularly savvy about computer graphics, so we were
curious to know how she managed to create the animation. Her
answer: Xtranormal State, a free, simple program, that does all the
hard work for you.
With Xtranormal State, you choose from among various premade
characters and scenes, decide how many actors you want, then simply
type in the dialog you want them to say. You can drag and drop
animated actions (such as walk or run to a placed target, head
movement, look at camera, etc.) into the typed conversation, to
create motion automatically timed with the dialog. Actions can be
edited (depending on the specific type) for delay, duration, or
even type. For instance, you can choose among various gestures,
such as wave goodbye, chin scratch, hand to head, and others.
Creating different camera angles is nearly as simple, as is moving
actors within the scene. Other options include being able to add
photos, movie inlays, and music.
Xtranormal State does have a small learning curve. The provided
tutorials are simple animations with dialog showing you what can be
done and offering advice on how to edit the provided templates. We
expect that some folks who aren’t comfortable moving objects in 3D
space may be initially frustrated. But it doesn’t take much to
become proficient with the program.
The Publish dialog provides direct publishing to YouTube,
Facebook and Twitter, with fields for title, description and tags.
Xtranormal State exports to various screen sizes (iPhone 3:2,
Widescreen 16:9, Fullscreen 4:3 and HD 720) and saves to AVI MPEG4,
MPEG 2, and MOV. To watch some example videos, check vendor
Xtranormal Technology’s YouTube
Although the actors are plasticky, and the scenes have little
detail, Xtranormal State is fun to use. It makes it easy to quickly
create amusing animations, even if you have no graphics or
Note: This link takes you to the vendor’s site, where you
can download the latest version of the software.
–Sally Wiener Grotta & Daniel Grotta