Photo: macattck @ flickr

Another Animation app for the iPad. This one is Way Cool.

Animation Desk is a sort of digital version of the traditional, 2D approach to animation; much like using digital software and Wacom-type tablets for digital image animation creation, only this thing enables your handy iPad to get into the fray. Neat-O!

Just got my hands on the latest update. So much for getting any work done in THAT meeting.

Seriously, as a working animation professional, I see this being useful in a whole bunch of ways- lots of options and so easy to use!  Here’s my blast of initial production-based thought bubbles:

– work on animation/ sequence ideas quickly & on the fly, sans parking at your computer, drawing table, etc. Great for water cooler meet-ups!

– As a director, rough out actions or sequences with thumbnail drawings for storyboards, then save them in your photo gallery for storyboard meetings, et al. Cut & paste into Celtx Studio storyboard templates!

– Speaking of meetings, I can doodle and animate during long winded diatribes, switching back to serious notes when I get busted. Instantly. Who’ll be the wiser?

– sketch conceptual stuff at the cafe/ coffee shop, waiting for traffic, sitting out a ticket roadside, etc. Beats the hell out of using napkins & coasters. Or the back of your hand.

Get Up and Go Draw

The portability factor is the keen thing, here. iPad’s are inherently meant to be functional everywhere, so it’s only natural that an app like Animation Desk would surface, and surface it did!  It’s a miniature, virtual version of a traditional animation desk, complete with peg bar, rear light and glass. Think of it, all that stuff is now in your hands and not in your office. With the full screen mode available, you can utilize the full size of the iPad’s workable space to draw much as you would on a sheet of punched paper. I love it; I can leave my laptop and Wacom on the desk, instead just bringing my iPad and a stylus to the park, Starbucks, pre-movie, laundromat, the tree house, dog house, where ever. Start drawing. How cool is that?

It’s a Digital Flip book… I like it!

Sure there are a plethora of similar applications out there for iPad, if not better for certain animation functions as well. What I love about Animation Desk is the ease of its elegant interface, usability, shallow learning curve, and effectiveness for translating quick sketches into individual files  or animation sequences quickly & easily. Practically anybody can use it, it’s so simple. Kids can learn traditional animation concepts on this from the get-go.  Neat thing is, the app has a lot of flexibility with the tools at hand, too. Sketchbook Pro it isn’t but for under 4 bucks, it still delivers animation fun and is great for sketching what you need, when you need it. It’s even cheaper than a spiral bound notebook! What’s not to love?

If You Love Something, you don’t HAVE to let it go…

This thing makes drawn animation truly portable. something I’d never imagined when I got started, outside of a traditional flip book approach. In that, individual sketches and animation sequences are saved to your photo gallery, Facebook page or Youtube channel.  Super handy for sharing with teammates, production staff, friends or just for creating an archive for yourself.

It’s a nice feature for tracking changes, iterations, sequences concept development or just tracking your progress as an animator, all stored online and accessible from any machine, anywhere you’ve got the interwebs. Save all your drawings/ sequences, store them in your photo gallery, print ’em, assemble them, and voila! You’ve got a flip book to hand out to friends and family. Make one, or a dozen; the office will love you for it.

The New Definition of Easy

Using the app couldn’t be easier; very intuitive with a super shallow learning curve. I had it in hand about 30 seconds, and had the thing working. Lotta fun. The interface is really basic, with most everything you need on the desk top: right there in front of you. Simple enough for kids to learn quickly, and for adults to wrap their heads around, too. Got a questions? Down lower right you’ll find a ‘?’– pop that, and you’ll get your fill of How To in a jiffy.

Drawing is super simple, too. Choose your pencil or brush from the menu on the right and have at it! Like eating fried chicken, it’s cool to use your fingers, or opt for a stylus, your choice. Personally, I tried my fingertip, but liked having a plastic tipped stylus in hand for more control. That’s just me. The demo shows off some animation magic happening with merely a fingertip; all up to you!

All This – and Colors, Too

How about some color? You’ve got a reasonable selection – a bunch of ‘paint pots’ show you what’s available. Nice addition when you’re onion-skinning your drawings, and looking to quickly separate the stacked layers for clarity.

Updates, too! Here are the latest, greatest  ‘glad to have ’em aboard’ updates:

– Five additional brushes! Exquisite.

– Palm Rejection! Don’t take it personally… it’s a nice feature to have. Really.

– Pressure sensitive brushstrokes! No-brainer there as per coolness factor.

The views are cool, too, with three of them being available.  Yeah, three! Fun Factor tripled. There’s Desk mode, Full Screen mode and Film Strip Mode. Check the neat little video demo of the application in action below. Excelsior!

Animation Desk Official Site

Animation Desk on iTunes

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