I don’t have a fraction of the animating skills of the late William Hanna or Joseph Barbera and I certainly have no intention of ever producing cartoons for TV. But there are times when I want to whip up a short animation — perhaps to enhance a presentation I’m making or create a lesson about online safety or privacy, as part of my work at ConnectSafely.org.
Until now I had to hire a professional if I need an animation, but — with a couple of hours of practice — almost anyone can become a pretty decent animator using a service called GoAnimate.
The service enables you to pick a scene, grab some characters and have them come to life. You can even speak in or import voice and the characters will mouth your words with really good lip syncing.
One of my favorite features is an animated whiteboard that lets you type in text for your character to write on the board. It looks a bit like what Saul Khan does in his great training videos at Khan Academy.
Although you can try it for free, GoAnimate is a fee-based service with plans starting at $39 a month. If you’re an infrequent user, you can join, create an animation, suspend your account and start up again when you need to create a new animation (it’s OK with them, I checked) which is still a lot cheaper than hiring a professional animator.