I've been asked several times what tool I used to create the animations on the front page of this site, and in various other places on the site. I'm a big believer in ease of use and speed of delivery - especially as sthe academic work year just seems to be getting more jam-packed each year. I also wanted something that would look reasonably professional, not just thrown together. I could have used Adobe Flash (I have taught courses in this software) or other higher-end professional software but I wanted to see what was available out there for free/low cost that could be used by others that were not necessarily as experienced as I am.
I spend some time looking at online animation software but many packages did not allow me to import my own media, or were only cartoon-based, or had considerable cost. Enter Moovly at www.moovly.com! The free version was available so I could determine the ease-of-use, and the maximum time length of 10 minutes was plenty for my purposes. Unlike several other animation software sites, the free version of Moovly is not time-limited, but it does have limitations on the amount of sounds and graphics you can have uploaded at one time. I didn't find this a limitation but if you were doing something particularly content heavy then it may be a consideration. A downside of the free version is that only one video can be rendered at a time, so if you are planning on making more than one, you need to wait until the first is rendered, in a queue.
When I signed up, there was a promotion for educational institutions, so I have an Edu Plus version for free. This version allows me to remove the watermark (I deliberately left it in on this site to help others find the software), upload more, render more than one video at a time, and has some other advantages. Keep an eye out for these kind of promotions (www.moovly.com/education-solutions) , otherwise the educational pricing starts at 50% off.
How does it work?
Moovly has content libraries of standard animations, graphics and effects, and users can upload their own content to add to these. The content is dragged to a timeline and then effects are added and tweaked. It is easy to edit and fast to create something that looks good. For the animations on this site, I wrote a script and recorded my voice, then imported the recording into Moovly. I then added the graphics and effects to match with the audio. Each animation took me a couple of hours, but I can see it would be a lot faster if I wasn't learning the software as I did it.
The screenshots above show the content library (left), the content area, and the timeline at the bottom of the screen. Adjusting when something appears/disappears is as easy as dragging it along the timeline. Each content object can be manipulated and adjusted via the menus and controls on the right. All in all, this is a simpler cut-down version of Flash that allows non-technical users to produce something reasonably fast - and is useful for technical users like me, as well! Can you tell that I like this software?