How to Make an Animated Movie

When I was writing my first novel, The Few Who Count, I had no idea that even if I finished it and liked the end product, it would not be published by any established press, and once self-published, it would neither sell nor be read. No. Instead, like many a beginning novelist, I thought that someday it might make a pretty good movie. I even cast some of the leads. I wanted Amy Irving as Caldwell and Jodi Foster as Hayley. Those were roles for very young women. I was young at the time. So were they.

Well, Amy Irving, Jodi Foster and I are middle aged now. But Caldwell and Hayley are still young. If a movie is ever made of The Few Who Count, Irving and Foster are never going to play those roles.

In fact, if a movie of the novel is ever made, the roles are probably going to be given to a computer. Why? Because I am the only person who has any interest in making a movie based on my novel. And today, it is actually possible for a novelist to make a movie all by herself!

This tutorial is in Spanish, but it's quite well done

Instead of casting calls for actors and actresses, I am currenty engaged in the process of casting the right computer -- or rather, the right software package -- in all the roles that my movie requires. The would-be performers? Anime Studio, Claymation Studio, Poser and Xtranormal.

I was given Anime Studio as a gift and I have it installed on my computer, but it's a very maleable and touchy actor, requiring way too much direction for my taste. I practically have to tell the actor what to do with every limb, every digit, every step of the way. Here are some tutorials that explain how to direct a movie using Anime Studio.

Can you imagine telling Jodi Foster how her ankle needs to be connected to her foot and what the relationship between the two should be when she walks? A really good actress doesn't need that much direction!

Bone Tutorial -- how to coordinate the movements of the parts

Anime Studio is a software package for animation in 2D. Poser, our next contender, is a program that creates animations in three dimensions. In Poser, a character's posture is arranged into individual poses, which, when strung together, can seem like live action.

Poser Tutorial: How to Make Your Actress Sneeze

In Claymation Studio directors use their own dolls, action figures or clay figurines to create action sequences from a series of snapshots. The result can be stunningly realistic, but the process is extremely laborious.

Claymation Studio Tutorial

Blender is a software package that enables you to make spectacular special effects. For instance, it's good to know that if your script calls for a nuclear explosion, you don't have to detonate a nuclear bomb in order to get the effect you wanted!

You can also use Blender to morph one being into another seamlessly, or to create catchy three dimensional logos.

Many of these programs allow professional level results, if you put in the time to learn to use them like a professional, but they also have a steep learning curve, and those of us who have more pressing projects to work on may not have the time to put in.

For those of us who want to make movies but are not willing to invest either time or money, there is another option. Xtranormal.com's slogan says it all: "If you can type, then you can make a movie."

Xtranormal Tutorial

The limitations with Xtranormal are as follows:

  • The free version allows only two characters per scene.
  • The appearance of the characters is limited to only a few choices in each style.
  • You are limited to English, although there are a few different accents to choose from.
  • You are limited to a few backgrounds.
  • You are limited to a few camera angles.
  • You are limited to a few postures and actions.

 

As with everything else in life, the choice is up to us. How much control do we want? If we want to control every move, every posture, every nuance, then we have to put in a lot of work and thought. If we want everything done for us, then we are limited to a very few choices.

It kind of reminds me of the recent discussion in another hub about whether we want the world to be run by a giant computer. The upside would be: being freed from having to make our own decisions. The downside would be: not being able to make our own decisions!

A rudimentary video I made on Xtranomal

Can we delegate important decisions to computers and get surprisingly good results? Sure, we can. But the choice of how much we want to delegate, and how much control we would like to retain, is still up to each of us.

If you want to be an independent moviemaker, there are many possibilities to choose from. The ultimate choice is up to you!

(c) 2009 Aya Katz

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Comments 36 comments

June Sun profile image

June Sun 7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

It should a lot of fun making your own movie. But it's so time-consuming...and detail-oriented.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Hi, June! Thanks for dropping by. You are right, if you want to make an excellent movie, it is very time-consuming and detail oriented. However, if you want to make short clips just for the fun of it, Xtranormal is amazingly simple to use.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

Aya - you are amazing! Loved the one you made - your talents seem endless :)


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Shalini! This level of movie-making is actually something anyone can do.


anime_nanet profile image

anime_nanet 7 years ago from Portugal

Great hub! You give very helpful hints!

Now I just wished I was good at arts / drawing... :(


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

anime_nanet, thanks for stopping by. To use many of these programs you don't have to be good at drawing. The lines that you want can be drawn for you by the program. You can even trace in a drawing. In the case of Xtranormal, the entire character is pretty much ready-made. All you do is dress it up a little, based on a few simple choices. So if you want to make a movie, you can!


nhkatz profile image

nhkatz 7 years ago from Bloomington, Indiana

Aya,

My six year old, Dagon, is very impressed with Xtranormal.

Here is a movie he made after seeing yours:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch?e=2009071909361411...


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Nets, tell Dagon I'm a fan! That's a great first movie!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

I had to save this until this morning to read when I wasn't tired. Great overview and insights into these programs. I love the way here on hubpages we can all learn and pass it on to others.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Jerilee, thanks! I actually learned about Xtranormal from a clip on your hub on jellyfish!


mwaky profile image

mwaky 7 years ago

This is really cool! you got talent keep it up!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Mwaky, thanks for your supportive comment!


Erick Smart 7 years ago

Nice tutorial on creating your actors. I got my daughter Manga Studio but of course I have not seen it. It is the same software?


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Erick Smart, thanks for your comment. I think Manga Studio is software that helps one create comic books to be printed on a home printer.


nhkatz profile image

nhkatz 7 years ago from Bloomington, Indiana

Hi Aya,

In case you're interested, here is the latest Dagon-Apetol video, titled "Be fruitful and multiply" which I created to help Dagon learn multiplication:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch?e=2009072018393279


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Nets, we all (Sword, Bow and I) enjoyed this video. Too bad Xtranormal SAPI does not know how to pronounce savant, though!


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

I do mess around with 3d studio max and Maya. And hey, my novels will be made into movies! Lol. Well written hub.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Fierycj, thanks! I'm not familiar with Studio Max and Maya. Do you recommend it?


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

Yes I do. You might wanna check them not. Maya was used in making the movies Shrek and Final Fantasy.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Fierycj, thanks. I'll look into it.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

This is in incredible Hub. I've been out of the loop for a while and so had no idea that this was even remotely possible, let alone cost-effective. Thanks Aya.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Dohn121, thanks! It's truly amazing what has recently become possible for ordinary mortals in the field of animation!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

I bookmarked that last site. Might check it out. That could be fun. I have lots of ideas for stuff that doesn't need much quality, just needs animation. This is good stuff. Sorry it took me 10 months to get here.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Shadesbreath, better late than never! Xtranormal is definitely a site worth visiting. It gives some fairly decent results for minimal effort.


mike 6 years ago

ummm do you know how to make cartoon movies such as dragon ball z and baki the grappler?


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Mike, thanks for your question. Actually, my movie making skills are fairly limited. I'm just a beginner, looking at all these different products and trying to see which is best for me. When you ask whether I know how to make movies such as Dragon BallZ, do you mean exactly like Dragon BallZ, or similar to it, but different? Dragon BallZ is a series protected by copyright and trademark, so if I did make something exactly like that, with all the same characters and plotlines, I would get in trouble. But if you are interested in software that would enable you to make something in a similar style, then probably Anime Studio would be a good choice. However, it's hard to use and would take lots of practice.


JacFoxill profile image

JacFoxill 5 years ago from Wisconsin

Thanks for the hub!! I was curious about Anime Studio. When I first looked at it I thought it seemed too difficult. So I looked more into Toon Boom. Which also looks difficult. But I suppose onec you practice you get use to it and it becomes very easy. Making animation is very time consuming. I know of a woman who spent 5 years creating a 7 minute piece. I dont think she used software thou.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks for the input, JacFoxill. Five years for a seven minute piece does seem excessively time consuming. But I applaud your acquaintance for doing it without any software at all!

Come to think of it, maybe doing small animation exercises without software is the best way to learn what is involved, and then something like anime studio will seem more self-explanatory, in terms of what it does!


Yang Kurosaki 5 years ago

hmmm....cool, i have made my own manga (which is not offical ofc:o) but now i would like to make like a anime movie thing sooo, which one program would be the easiest to use to make anime ?:o


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Yang Kurosaki, thanks for dropping by. By far the easiest to use is Xtranormal, but the results are of limited quality and variation is small. If you want a manga-style animation, Anime Studio is best, but there is a steep learning curve.


Yang Kurosaki 5 years ago

Anime studio meaning by anime studio pro 7 or debut?


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Yang Kurosaki, Debut may be easier, but Pro is better if you are looking for the best results. They are both much harder to learn to use than Xtranormal.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Amazing how technology can now help people do what they want to do..like make animated movies! Cool!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Ripplemaker! It is amazing!


himanshu verma 4 years ago

this page is good


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, himanshu verma.

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