Help me bring my comic to life.
June 30, 2008 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Help me bring my comic to life.

What's the best software for me to use most efficiently animate a 2D comic? I'm a dinosaur. I'm a syndicated newspaper cartoonist doing a weird daily single-panel cartoon. It's time for me to bring some of these babies to life for the web. The reflex action is to go to Flash, and I'm prepared to buy it and get cracking. But is Flash overkill? I'm going to scan already drawn images, separate the figures into pieces, do some slight movement and add voices and a little music. I'll probably never use all of the capabilities of Flash. So is there something cheaper and more to my needs? I'm using a MacPro and have some background in video and audio editing if that helps. I also have Photoshop and Illustrator. Remember, though I hope to animate one or two a week, I have to do it while still producing a comic every single day for, well, ever. Googling leads me to software that can do more and I wonder if I need software that can do less. What do you think?
posted by lpsguy to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's time for me to bring some of these babies to life for the web.

Have you asked the question of why you need to do this? There are plenty of non animated comics on the web and they do just fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:31 AM on June 30, 2008

I actually think non-animated comics are more popular then animated, flash-based cartoons. One thing you might want to consider is putting them up on you tube as videos, rather then straight up flash animations.

What version of photoshop do you have? Older versions came with a tool called ImageReady which you could use to make pretty nice animated gifs, but they took that out in the latest versions.
posted by delmoi at 6:37 AM on June 30, 2008

Good question, BB. I have asked it of myself. Without giving away too much, the reasons are: 1) To expand my audience. 2) To take advantage of a business model that will allow me to twin the comic with an adveriser and bring both to websites looking for content and revenue. Also – and at the risk of derailing this – I believe that although there are many comics on the web, my experience ( over 2,500 comics in a row without missing a day) allows me to offer a consistency of content that is taken more seriously by larger web entities who will pay for the material. And I believe mine is better.
posted by lpsguy at 6:42 AM on June 30, 2008

My gut reaction is that if you use flash you are going to be spending a lot more time on the minutia that other software might have provided shortcuts for. For example from a brief search this software does automatic lip synching so once you've set up a few facial expressions you can record the audio and have it do the vocal animation part. From the little I've played with flash it seems like doing cartoon animation would take forever.

I can't recommend specific products but I think in your searching you shouldn't be put off by products that do a lot if what they do is specific to what you're trying to accomplish. Hopefully others here have some good options for specific software.
posted by genial at 6:44 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks, delmoi. My comics are already up on the web every day as static images. I'm looking to expand their presence and to tap some new places, I feel I need to offer some new wrinkles. Hey, trust me, if at the end of this the animation looks bad, I'll scrap the whole idea.

Still ... what software would I use?
posted by lpsguy at 6:46 AM on June 30, 2008

Actually it looks like that software, ToonBoom, is used in a lot of feature films (ok, a lot of b-rated and straight to video stuff, but still...Disney) so it's not a bad idea to give the demo a shot. Check out the wiki article.
posted by genial at 7:02 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd probably go with Flash, but I know the program fairly well and have animated in it before. The limited animation idea might work for you... I used it when I did a twice-weekly vector-graphics feature on Prodigy back in the day. I haven't used toonBoom so I can't speak to that. I think that a single-panel would be easier to animate than a multi-panel, for what that's worth. I've also scanned in "cells" and strung them together in Flash but that's a fair bit of work what with color and so on.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:21 AM on June 30, 2008

Swish is supposed to be a lighter weight, easier way to create custom Flash.
posted by PatoPata at 9:27 AM on June 30, 2008

I would second an animation-specific solution, like ToonBoom, mentioned by genial. Flash is much too complex, robust and idiosyncratic to get into for simple animation. The upshot of it is the flash player is embedded in 98% of the audience, so... you get ease of viewing.

ToonBoom, unless I am mistaken, will only output video, making the implementation a little more difficult and bandwidth costs higher.

Really, IMO, it's not a matter of which tool will do the job better, because ToonBoom will give you better results easier, while flash will give you robust results better suited for the interactive nature of the internet. It's a matter of what your intentions are.

Do you want to use the characters in online advertisements of some sort?

Do you want to make cool youtube videos for viral attempts?

If you want advice, please pm me, I'm a flash developer and have done lots of non-net media as well.
posted by emptyinside at 10:39 AM on June 30, 2008

Don't know anything about Synfig but you might check it out.
posted by nimsey lou at 7:50 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks all. I think I'll do the ToonBoom trial and settle on Flash if it doesn't work out. Appreciate the help.
posted by lpsguy at 9:22 AM on July 1, 2008

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