Five Inexpensive Animation Solutions for the Mac

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#1: Toon Boom Express

Toon Boom Express is my first choice because it’s under $100 (by one penny, anyway), designed specifically for the novice or hobbyist animator, and is a scaled-down version of a software package that’s become a firm fixture in the 2D animation industry.

Toon Boom Express is like Toon Boom Studio, but scaled down to include only the most necessary functionality for quick and easy animation. It also has support for exporting Flash (SWF) format movies. Version support is for Mac OS X.

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#2: Anime Studio

Smith-Micro's Anime Studio is another low-cost 2D animation solution for the Mac, with a free 30-day limited trial to further sweeten the pot. Anime Studio offers timeline animation and a bone rigging system.

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#3: Cheetah3D

On the 3D modeling and animation front, Cheetah3D bears a simplified resemblance to 3D Studio Max. While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a major software package, it’s still got enough of the basics to let you learn how to model from scratch and animate in 3D – and it supports file formats from many of the major 3D packages, allowing you to import working files from other programs.

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#4: Kinemac

Although it’s a bit more expensive, Kinemac brings a robust 3D package to the Mac, with features allowing for precise keyframe control and realistic animation. Kinemac’s key selling point is that it offers the versatility of 3D, controlled by the same simplicity as a 2D presentation tool.

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#5: Poser

The frontier’s Poser also runs a bit higher as far as price, but you’ll hear many that tell you that it’s well worth the price simply for the ease of creating your own 3D worlds and people in a matter of minutes. Poser comes with a full set of customizable models that you can tweak in any way that you want, and is wildly popular among those who wish to create easy, fun designs and animations without knowing much about animation software.