MotionArtist: Create Animation Without Actually Being an Animator

Geek Culture

The screen base for MotionArtist, courtesy of SmithMicro Software

“This a composite and presentation product to add motion and interactivity to comics.”

That’s what Smith Micro Software’s new app, MotionArtist, can do, according to Steve Yatson, the Senior Product Manager of the Productivity & Graphics group at Smith Micro. “I’m animating without actually having to be an animator.”

Comic-Con International attendees will be the first to see MotionArtist‘s approach to layout, animation and interactivity at the company’s booth (#5353) this week. But you don’t have be there to check it out. The app is in the beta stage and Smith Micro is offering it for free in a direct download from the Smith Micro online store starting today.

Why am I so interested in MotionArtist?

Because when my son wanted to create digital comics, the software professional comic creators universally recommended to him was Manga Studio, also by Smith Micro. My son has been using it for over a year now and he’s very pleased. It’s allowed him to move from thought to deed much faster and easier than I ever expected.

So when I had a chance to learn about a new product that helps creators format and structure motion comics from the same company, I wanted to check it out.

As Yatson said, this is not a software to create comics. That’s what Manga Studio does.

It is a product designed to present them in the best and coolest possible format. MotionArtist will take images — comic panels, photos, what have you — and help re-format and recreate them to create motion.

Using the program, you can slice up the images into panels or you can take various objects in the image, shift them around, and then animate them. During the webinar demonstration, Yatson moved around a boat, fish, and the sun from one place to another, then created movement in which the boat seemed to be sailing on the water.

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According to Yatson, Smith Micro expects three types of customers for MotionArtist:

  • Someone who wants to drag and drop photos or comics into it as assets and put it into a quick presentation. The software is designed to make it easy to take full pages and put them online or cut up panels out and quickly create something to put online.
  • Someone that wants to create an interactive graphic novel with some interactivity.
  • Anyone that wants to take family vacation photos or any photos and create sound and motion with them. These are the more casual users.

Photo manipulation. Screenshot courtesy of Smith Micro

Built into the software is an easy way to export your creation either as a movie or a HTML presentation. For those who intend on hosting webcomic chapters on a website, the software will format the panels for export and upload. There is also a direct input feature to both YouTube and Facebook.
Features include movable letting, sound effects, and audio, among others. Yatson said the program is designed to be user-friendly. In presentation mode, the work is primarily done for the user: “You don’t have to go through a bunch of user interfaces in presentation mode.” In advanced mode, there is more customization.

Yatson emphasized MotionArtist is not a drawing or coloring tool. “The idea is to help get your comics on the web in a compelling presentation.”

The official release is scheduled for mid-2013, with a retail price of approximately$60.

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