Creating simple movies with animation
June 17, 2009 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Which free/cheap programs will make the simple movies I need?

I have to make short videos (to play on DVDs) for a classroom application. They have an audio track, background art, and really basic animations (e.g., a square moves from point A to point B, then a circle appears) that go with the audio.

I’ve been using powerpoint to make these videos in the past, but now I have a series of 20 or so animations on a page, and it’s just impossible to get everything synced up with the audio using the very limited preview and timing options. I also never had to put the videos on DVD before, so I think I need to switch programs anyway.

Is there a small program (that’s free/cheap AND for PCs) that I can use to make these movies? I’ve tried Adobe Flash, but it’s not cheap and it’s more powerful (and complicated) than what I need. The only requirements are (a) it can convert what I do to a DVD format, (b) I can make simple animations IN the program, and (c) there’s an easy-to-use timeline for syncing.

Thanks in advance.
posted by parkerjackson to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Which OS do you have? If you have vista you can use movie maker + dvd maker to do what you need for dvd's. These come with vista already installed.
posted by majortom1981 at 8:29 AM on June 17, 2009

You might want to have a peek at Camtasia. I know it's geared towards annotating screen captures, but version 6 seems to have grown a tool for every other purpose so maybe you can pull off your simple animations with it, too. Or, at least, use the PowerPoint animations and capture them to Camtasia, then do the syncing there. It has a timeline, syncs to audio well, and isn't too complicated for what you need. Its publishing tool is fantastic, as well: as long as you have a DVD authoring tool, it'll save and convert to most compatible formats.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:48 AM on June 17, 2009

Response by poster: I have Vista on one machine and XP on the other. Both have Movie Maker, but in a preliminary trial, it doesn't appear to do the minor graphics and animation I need (or is there some way to make small art appear/disappear/move around over the background?)
posted by parkerjackson at 10:14 AM on June 17, 2009

For simple animation, PowerPoint animations and CamStudio (free, works much like Camtasia which is a commercial product) to capture them. Wax to composite the audio. (Wax can also do animation, but if you're looking for 'easy', stick with PowerPoint.)

DVDFlick will encode the A/V and make you DVD disk images with a minimum of pain from nearly anything (like AVI files that Wax will generate). Then it's burninating time!
posted by ostranenie at 1:35 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

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