29 November 2010

As I've been using slides again as a visual channel in my talks, I've been making use of animation with diagrams to help communicate my points. The major presentation programs (Keynote and Powerpoint) have long supported animation, but I've been inclinded to look for motion grahics tools that are more powerful and easier to use.

The two main ones that come up in my searching are Adobe's After Effects and Apple's Motion. Both tools are very capabable, but also very expensive: effectively costing about $1000. I got hold of a trial version of After Effects which was a good way to get a feel for it. Infuriatingly I can't do the same with Motion since Apple don't provide trial versions of their software.

One of the directions I was interested in persuing was making use of 3 dimensions. This led me to experiment with Blender, which is a open-source 3D modeling and animation tool. I ran into two main problems, which made it much slower to work with than After Effects. Firstly thinking in 3D is more difficult, and I'm not sure the results are usually worth the extra effort involved. Secondly the UI for blender is very idiosyncratic, which made it frustratingly difficult to do even simple things.

One of the frustrations for me here is that all the tools I've been looking at so far do lots of things that I'm not so interested in, which makes it harder to use them for my main purpose.