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Animation Software Review: YouTube's Xtranormal

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Animation Software Review: YouTube's Xtranormal

The Bottom Line

All in all, while it's more a toy than animation software, YouTube's Xtranormal animation application is still an easy, adorable shortcut for creating animations as a content delivery platform. I'm sure it won't be long before someone finds an out-of-the-box way to use the medium to build their audience.

Pros

  • Makes animation accessible to non-animators.
  • Easy point-and-click intuitive content creation that doesn't require in-depth animation training.
  • Comes with a stock library of characters, sets, sounds, and voices.
  • Can easily publish content to YouTube.
  • Free.

Cons

  • Links to private Google account info.
  • Voices are about as distorted and glottal as you'd expect.
  • Generic stock characters.

Description

  • Web-based animation application that creates 3D content within minutes.
  • Lets you type in dialogue that can be converted to audio speech.
  • Allows you to apply animations to stock characters.

Guide Review - Animation Software Review: YouTube's Xtranormal

What's good for Geico is good for the gander; YouTube's Xtranormal animation application lets you use a quick and easy step-by-step builder to create short 3D animations using pre-populated characters and automated voices that sound like someone trying to talk while swallowing a hardboiled egg whole. It's cute, it's charming, and it requires zero knowledge of animation to use - and for all that as a serious animation tool it has zero value, it gets five stars from me for simple ease of use and accessibility.

Not to mention it's a huge, huge time waster. Fifteen minutes may not lead to car insurance savings, but it'll suck you into hours of amusing twiddling while you figure out just how far you can take an application that can only be described as "cute."

You'll find the answer to "how far" is "not very." Although the application comes with many categories of preset characters, voices, gestures, motions, and facial expressions, there's only so much you can do with unoriginal, highly simplified characters, text-to-speech, and pre-made animation. With a little ingenuity and a lot of humor, though, it promises to be an amusing platform for any number of talented entertainers.

Here's the basic setup: you choose your style (basically selecting a category of characters and sets). Once you've done that, you choose one or two characters (or at least, costumes and skins for them), a backdrop, music, and background noise. Then you add your speech as text, which the app will turn into synthesized dialogue. Here's the really fun part: there are buttons along the side that you can drag anywhere in a text box, even in the middle of a word. These buttons allow you to trigger an animated action or facial expression the moment the character says that word.

It's like timeline-based animation approached from a wholly intuitive, primitive level without incorporating a timeline at all, and that's what makes it so accessible, fun, and easy for the non-animator.

The down side is that it does request information from your Google account, if you haven't already linked yours with a YouTube account.

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