Software for animated diagrams

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by ChrisA, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I'm making an instructional video and I'd like to do a cut away to a very simple diagram, one step up in a hand drawing on a white board. What software should I look at? I want it to be simple with short learning curve.

    The subject is high school level science, so it's the kind of diagrams a teacher might draw on a white board but I want movement and a step up in quality. Otherwise I've simply shoot a white board (I may still do that.)

    I guess there is a lower limit on how simple animation can be, you would need to know how to keyframe and so on. I can adapt the diagram to the software. I just need simple shapes that move.

    I did this decades ago using film on a copy stand and hand drawn art but I don't have that much time any more.
  2. musique macrumors regular


    Apr 10, 2009
    Well, as you know, it all depends... :rolleyes:

    On the simpler side, but quite powerful and good-looking is something like omnigraffle

    If you want movement in your diagrams, Apple's own Motion is very powerful and inexpensive. Unfortunately, it takes time to learn.

    Another idea is to look at the Adobe products, like After Effects, possibly combined with Photoshop, Illustrator, and/or InDesign. All of these take some time to master.

    There are probably lots of other options.
  3. hsilver macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2002
    New York
  4. dampsquid macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2011
    Keynote or Powerpoint

    Use presentation software of your choice to build animated slideshow. Intricate animations can be constructed. Then export as video for incorporation into whatever...

    You may need something to draw the elements - tools within PPT and Keynote are limited; I second the omnigraffle nomination.

    If you really want the whiteboard look, set a camera on a tripod, point at whiteboard, and take a series of stills as you draw. Animate.

    Or, draw on paper, and scan for better quality (document scanner recommended).
  5. adamneer macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2013
    Chicago, IL
    hopefully you're idea of "simple" is much MUCH simpler than this because if what you are intending to do is anything at all like this, you will be much better off filming yourself writing on a whiteboard. This animation took me over 100 hours of work and that doesn't even include the time it took for the artist to draw the original artwork, which she did in Adobe Illustrator. I used After Effects to animate the drawings and used green screen footage of her hand to make it look as though she was actually drawing it.

    If this is for a classroom of punk kids who aren't really going to care either way, I'd say stick with the ultra lame PowerPoint, unless you are just dying to learn a new skill.
  6. mgipe macrumors demi-god


    Oct 6, 2009
    This is a fantastic example. I would love to see more about the process you went through.
  7. ChrisA thread starter macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes, something like what you did but only much less involved. I was thinking about using the Ken Burns pan effect on hand drawn graphics and maybe other cheap tricks t reduce the amount of labor.

    Yes, I am trying to lean a new skill, I want MUCH simply animations to be used in an iBook.

    BTW the literature circle is a good idea. I'm doing science, not English. So I want to show things like a cell membrane and what passes through it and not and how and the forces involved.
  8. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    If I were doing this I'd create my artwork in Photoshop or Illustrator, then animate in After Effects. After Effects can be intimidating for new users, but as long as you don't want to get too crazy with the animation then I think it would be a perfectly reasonable solution for you. They offer a fully functional 30 day trial. You could actually create your artwork right in After Effects if most of it is built out of primitive objects. But if you happen to know Photoshop already then you'd probably be better off sticking with that.

    Video copilot has some pretty quick and easy tutorials that should help you get a handle on the software and, more specifically, the techniques you'd like to try.

    Motion would work as well, though I don't think I've touched it since the first version. So I can't offer much help there.
  9. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I think this all depends on where you are, and where you want to go. If you have the necessary skills, using any of the Creative Suite tools to their intended purpose is can produce awesome results. But if you have to learn these skills, that's a very steep learning curve. Next, who's the intended audience? 10s of thousands of teachers? Then is probably worthwhile to get some professional production value in place. If it's a few dozen people, that might be overkill.
    As mentioned here, you can do a lot with PowerPoint/Keynote. Build/deconstruct vectors and images over a single or multiple slides. You can capture anything that happens on the screen with Quicktime, and import into iMovie, edit, then do a voice over. That's probably the least expensive platform. Use good audio tools, and add some background music, and a lot can be done. From here, the sky's the limit. Maybe ask around if friend/family has expertise in any of these areas? They may be happy to help for a simple onscreen credit.
  10. RCAFBrat macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2013
    Montreal, QC
    The other night 60 Minutes had a piece about Khan Academy; I wasn't paying much attention and can't view the show from work to check, but seemed to me the lessons were being put together pretty quickly with minimal production effort (the lessons were hand drawn).

    Simplest solution may be to invest in a good drawing tablet (eg Wacom), simple drawing program and use Quicktime or other program to just record the screen.

    Once you have the video, you can edit as required.

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