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2020 Best 3D Animation Software

by Scarlett Nguyen
2020 best 3D animation software
2020 best 3D animation software
2020 best 3D animation software

3D animation is one of the supreme disciplines in contemporary art. Not only does it require knowledge about the 3D models used in its creation. The 3D animator also needs a substantial understanding of shot composition, the specifics of the game engine used, the renderer, and the 3D animation software. Most importantly, you need to have talent as a storyteller to get your message across.

In this article, we aim to give you an overview of the 3D animation software available, as well as 2D animation and stop-motion software.

We have tried to showcase both commercial and free options for each application in 3D animation software, 2D animation software, and stop-motion software.

SoftwareApplicationOSPriceFormats
3ds MaxMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows$1,545/yearstl, 3ds, ai, abc, ase, asm, catproduct, catpart, dem, dwg, dxf, dwf, flt, iges, ipt, jt, nx, obj, prj, prt, rvt, sat, skp, sldprt, sldasm, stp, vrml, w3d xml
MotionbuilderMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows$1,765/yearasf, amc, bvh, c3d, fbx, htr, tr3
BlenderMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOS, LinuxFree3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, stl, vrml, vrml97, x3d
Cinema 4DMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOS$1,439/year3ds, dae, dem, dxf, dwg, x, fbx, iges, lwf, rib, skp, stl, wrl, obj
Clara.ioKeyframe AnimationBrowserFree3dm, 3ds, cd, dae, dgn, gf, gdf, gts, igs, kmz, lwo, rws, obj, off, ply, pm, sat, scn, skp, slc, sldprt, stp, stl, x3dv, xaml, vda, vrml, x_t, x, xgl, zpr
Daz3DMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOSFreeobj, fbx, dae, daz
Houdini ApprenticeMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOS, LinuxFree (with limitations)bgeo, clip, fbx, geo, hip
iCloneMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows$1993ds, bvh, fbx, obj, vns, skp
iPi SoftMotion CaptureWindows$195bvh, fbx
MakeHumanMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOS, LinuxFreedae, fbx, obj, STL
MayaMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOS, Linux$1,545/yearai, aiff, dae, dxf, dwg, eps, fbx, maya, mel, obj, stl
MixamoMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationBrowserFreebhv, fbx, obj
modoMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOS, Linux$1799lwo, abc, obj, pdb, 3dm, dae, fbx, dxf, x3d, geo, stl,
Poser ProMotion Capture, Keyframe AnimationWindows, macOS$199bvh, cr2, obj, pz2
TerragenKeyframe AnimationWindows, macOS, Linux$349/yearchan, clip, exr, fbx, geo, lwo, mov, obj, ter
SmartBodyMotion CaptureWindows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOSFreeaf, bvh, dae, fbx, sk, xml
Boats AnimatorStop MotionWindows, macOS, LinuxFreeavi, mov, mpg
DragonframeStop MotionWindows, macOS, Linux$295 (USB), $305 (Wireless)avi, mov, mpg
Animate CC2D AnimationWindows, macOS$240/yearfla, xfl, swf, as, apr, psd, eps, jpg, png, tiff
Animation Paper2D AnimationWindows, macOS$79custom
Moho2D AnimationWindows, macOS$399ai, avi, bmp, eps, gif, jpeg, mov, obj, png, targa
Pencil2D2D AnimationWindows, macOS, LinuxFreegif, png, pcl, pclx, xml, avi, mov, mpg, mp4
Synfig Studio2D AnimationWindows, macOS, LinuxFreeavi, bmp, gif, mng, mpeg, png, ppm, sif, sifz, sfg, svg

24 BEST 3D ANIMATION SOFTWARE TOOLS

3ds Max

  • Software: 3ds Max
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows
  • Price: $1,545/year
  • Formats: stl, 3ds, ai, abc, ase, asm, catproduct, catpart, dem, dwg, dxf, dwf, flt, iges, ipt, jt, nx, obj, prj, prt, rvt, sat, skp, sldprt, sldasm, stp, vrml, w3d xml

What is this 3D animation software? 3Ds Max is one of the major commercial 3D animation software suites on the market. Its comprehensive feature set makes it a popular choice for game development, visual effects production, and architectural visualization.

This 3D animation software features particle and light simulation, a cloth-simulation engine, and even brings its scripting language to the table (MAXScript). In terms of 3D modeling, it is capable of creating parametric and organic objects with polygon, subdivision surface, and spline-based modeling features. Among the other techniques is the ability to create models from point cloud data.

The 3D animation capabilities of 3ds Max are comprehensive. It features two character animation tools. “character studio” that is designed to work best for bipedal characters. “CAT” can rig and animate non-humanoid characters. This 3D animation software also comes with a tool that allows setting up and controlling scenes with large crowds of people, dubbed “Populate.”

Take full control over your 3D animation with “Motion Mixer,” a tool that takes its cue from audio editing. It displays separate tracks for motion data from each body part that can be edited for speed, transitioned, looped, and more. Among the other tools in this 3D animation software are motion paths that let you modify animations directly in the trajectory as splines, giving you instant feedback in the viewport.

Motionbuilder

  • Software: Motionbuilder
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows
  • Price: $1,765/year
  • Formats: asf, amc, bvh, c3d, fbx, htr, tr3

What is this 3D animation software? Motionbuilder is the professional-grade 3D animation software by Autodesk.

This program combines keyframe animation with motion capture and virtual production. With this 3D animation software, you can animate 3D characters in real-time that are especially suitable for game development and animated movies. Motion capture data can be retargeted with a vast array of tools that allow for finetuning the minutest of details in the character’s movements quickly and consistently.

Similar to movie editing software, Motionbuilder will enable you to cut and stitch together different movements – the key difference is though that instead of hard cuts, the 3D animation software assists in creating smooth and natural transitions between the files. The whole process is non-destructively, so the original files are not affected in any way.

Motion capture and keyframe animations can be supplemented with animation layers to achieve distinctive effects and clean animations. Motionbuilder comes with an assortment of physics engines to dynamically animate interactions, such as falls using ragdoll solvers. Published by Autodesk, this 3D animation software integrates well with other Autodesk products like 3ds Max, Mudbox, and Maya to speed up the overall workflow.

Blender

  • Software: Blender
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: Free
  • Formats: 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, stl, vrml, vrml97, x3d

What is this 3D animation software? Blender is a free professional open-source 3D animation and modeling software.

It is used in a host of applications ranging from animated feature films, visual effects, art, interactive applications, video games, and architectural visualizations. This free 3D animation software’s dizzying features set includes 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, raster graphics editing, rigging, and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, sculpting, rendering, video editing, and compositing. If that is not enough for you, how about an integrated game engine?

In terms of 3D animation, this software offers a broad range of tools that build upon keyframe animation, such as lattice modifiers, i.e., deforming a mesh non-destructively. A more sophisticated tool for 3D animation is to create an armature for your 3D character. That means you design a skeleton to define the location and mobility of limbs and their relationship amongst each other. Then you specify how much influence each of the bones has on the limbs in its vicinity. This process is called “rigging.” In case you don’t want to do this manually, there are commercial plugins available that can do it automatically.

This free 3D animation software also supports input from motion capturing software. Even facial motion capture possible using markers painted onto the actor’s face. Cloth your 3D characters with the excellent clothing simulation within Blender that can be manipulated by the armature and add to the realism of your 3D animation.

If you want to combine live-action footage with computer-generated imagery, this free 3D animation software has you covered. It can track the camera movement to allow you the seamless integration of both worlds.

Cinema 4D

  • Software: Cinema 4D
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS
  • Price: $1,439/year
  • Formats: 3ds, dae, dem, dxf, dwg, x, fbx, iges, lwf, rib, skp, stl, wrl, obj

What is this 3D animation software? If you are looking for ease of use, Cinema 4D is famously intuitive to pick up. Powered by OpenGL, real-time viewport of this 3D animation software baffles with a depth of field and screen space reflections making it easier to control these effects efficiently. Because this view looks so good, Cinema 4D lets you export preview renders so you can submit them to clients for approval. The Bodypaint tool is now also supported by the real-time viewport, meaning that you get to see the results of your changes to the textures as you make them. To increase the overall rendering speed, Cinema 4D features a LOD tool that simplifies objects based on their distance to the camera and other factors.

There are multiple ways to tackle animation in this 3D animation software. It comes with a vast array of intuitive tools for character animation. For instance, record your mouse movement as position data. You can choose between forward and inverse kinematics. You can also set up cyclical movements, such as walking, with a parametric tool. Last but not least, add a muscle system to create naturally flowing movements.

The newest releases of this 3D animation software improve the weight painting workflow significantly by adding it possible to mirror the work from one side of a character to the other. In addition, it has become easier to integrate live footage seamlessly with 3D animated objects. A feature called Scene Reconstruction creates colored point clouds and geometry based on tracked features enabling you to marry both components precisely.

Clara.io

  • Software: Clara.io
  • Application: Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Browser
  • Price: Free
  • Formats: 3dm, 3ds, cd, dae, dgn, gf, gdf, gts, igs, kmz, lwo, rws, obj, off, ply, pm, sat, scn, skp, slc, sldprt, stp, stl, x3dv, xaml, vda, vrml, x_t, x, xgl, zpr

What is this 3D animation software? Clara.io a free 3D animation software that runs in your browser. In terms of 3D modeling, it caters to most needs, as it is capable of basic modeling techniques like extrusion, beveling, slicing, cutting, and looping. Clara.io also features sub diving modeling. Since this free 3d animation software runs in the cloud, it is the perfect tool for collaboration on complex 3D animation projects. Its collaborative mode comes with a fully-fledged user’s right management system. Featuring basic keyframe animation, it is even the right choice for creating animated movies. For each different keyframe, states can be defined, the frames in between are calculated automatically using interpolation. This way, there is no need to animate everything by hand.

The publisher prides itself on that Clara.io is being used as a tool for the pre-visualization of major feature films. And indeed, its 3D animation and rendering features exceed expectations for a browser-based suite. Its rendering capabilities are supplied by V-Ray, a rendering engine that is part of many sophisticated desktop 3D programs. This free 3D animation software allows you to embed your 3D models and 3D animations into websites. This feature includes the possibility that visitors interact with predefined properties of the 3D model to change its scale or thickness.

Daz3D

  • Software: Daz3D
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS
  • Price: Free
  • Formats: obj, fbx, dae, daz

What is this 3D animation software? Daz3D is a 3D animation software that is primarily gear towards hobbyists. That means this tool takes some short cuts to ease the workflow. You can either buy a ready model on the market place that appeals to you. Alternatively, you start with one of the preset models and modify it to your liking. Like similar programs, Daz3D has a host of tools to tweak every aspect of the base models, such as the build, size, and length of limbs. Once you are done styling it with a hair cut, and clothing your creation, you can set up complex scenes with items from a large library of props that covers many genres.

In terms of animation, Daz3D is loaded with a variety of tools. Motion capture data that can be edited to fit your needs is only one of many possibilities this 3D animation software has to offer. The puppeteer tool displays different poses as a node in a grid, allowing users to animate their model by shifting their mouse between these nodes. If you prefer, you can also assign different poses to your model in the timeline, and the program will generate the movements in between them automatically. In other words, 3D animation has never been more straightforward.

The great thing about this 3D animation software is that it is available free of charge. It is also worth mentioning the Daz3D offers a 3D Content Marketplace where you can buy and sell your models, poses, and props.

Houdini Apprentice

  • Software: Houdini Apprentice
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: Free (with limitations)
  • Formats: bgeo, clip, fbx, geo, hip

What is this 3D animation software? Houdini is a popular tool for game development and 3D animation. This 3D animation software is designed around a node-based workflow. The procedural modeling approach of Houdini allows you to alter the entire model and to quickly generate complex geometries at a constant level of quality by changing individual parameters (nodes). From carefully sculpted terrain maps to varied spaceship corridors – almost everything can be generated procedurally.

All the procedural tools in Houdini can be animated in 3D from the shelf. This 3D animation software has a solution for about every challenge in the book: For instance, you can do complex crowd simulations that encompass controls for the crowd’s layout, collision avoidance, terrain adaption, and more. Another specialty of Houdini is the procedurally generated fluids and particles that lend further realism to your 3D animations. Both biped and quadruped 3D characters can be set up for 3D animation easily and quickly with the auto-rig tool, thus eliminating the need to perform this critical task manually. Create anatomically convincing 3D animations with the muscle simulation pipeline built into this 3D animation software.

iClone

  • Software: iClone
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows
  • Price: $199
  • Formats: 3ds, bvh, fbx, obj, vns, skp

What is this 3D animation software? iClone is both a character generation tool and 3D animation software. Creating realistic 3D models of humanoid characters is an effortless task with iClone: 3D characters are based on a morphable base mesh. That is customized using a comprehensive toolset to display diverse body shapes and sizes down to the finest features. The user interface adapts to the user’s workflow. You are not confined to creating characters in this 3D animation software; it includes speed tree generator and editing tools you also found in general-purpose 3D modeling software. Also, you get access to Allegorithmic’s vast library of materials that enable complex surface effects on your 3D models.

All 3D characters are automatically rigged and ready for animation and posing. This 3D animation software supports a host of animation inputs. You can choose from a library of motion capture files; you can animate using keyframe animation or plug your Kinect into your computer and record motion capture data. Speed up your workflow using the preset scene layouts to help set up entire rendered clips quickly and at a high quality. The 3D animation software does not limit your artistic expression, as the animation tools support both bipedal and quadrupedal characters. Blend shapes facilitate the creation of convincing facial animations. Like other comparable 3D animation software, iClone includes a motion editor that enables you to retarget motion capture files, to stitch files seamlessly together, and manually correct them. In addition, this 3D animation software includes a complete light system and a physics engine. The simulated fabrics in this 3D animation software can be baked and reused in other scenes. iClone is a self-sufficient 3D animation software since the animations made can be rendered in high quality in the program itself.

iPi Soft

  • Software: iPi Soft
  • Application: Motion Capture
  • OS: Windows
  • Price: $195
  • Formats: bvh, fbx

What is this 3D animation software? iPi Soft has made a name for itself with its consumer-friendly markerless motion capture solution: This 3D animation software is capable of tracking up to five actors and does not require them to wear motion capture suits. Instead, users plug 1 or 2 depth sensors (such as the Kinect) or 3 to 6 Sony PS Eye cameras into their computers to generate 3D animations. It covers full-body movements in a space as large 7 x 7 meters. This approach has the advantage that you don’t need to maintain a dedicated motion capture stage, with special lighting requirements and tracking suits. The iPi Soft solution is easily transportable and can be set up within half an hour.

What is more, using the 3D animation software, you can clean up and edit the data. So, there is no need to spend extra money on third party 3D animation software for this stage in the pipeline. It supports standard file motion capture formats like FBX, BVH, Collada. The 3D animation created with this software can be used in 3D software tools like Maya or Blender for further processing or in common game development environments (Valve Source Engine, Unreal Engine, Unity). The price of the 3D animation software depends on the kind of cameras you want to use. Take note that iPi Soft offers 30% educational discounts on its subscriptions.

MakeHuman

  • Software: MakeHuman
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: Free
  • Formats: dae, fbx, obj, STL

What is this 3D animation software? MakeHuman is a free character creation tool that grew out of a Blender plugin. Users generate realistic 3D models of humanoid characters using sliders that control general properties like age, gender, and weight, down to the intricate features like the shape of the face or the length of limbs. The developers of this free 3D animation software pride themselves on 12 years of research in body topology resulting in a robust and variable base mesh that is optimized for processing in other tools like Mudbox or ZBrush. Cloth your 3D character with a variety of garments that will add additional realism.

In addition to character generation, this free 3D animation software features a character rigging menu that makes your creation easy to adapt to a variety of applications. You can export the fully rigged character for use in other 3D animation software or game development environments. However, you can also animate and render the 3D character directly within the program using a series of pre-recorded motion capture files available from the shelf or importing additional files. This 3D animation software comes with a set of useful tools that allow editing and adapting motion capture files for the desired target character. Just like in commercial 3D animation software such as Autodesk Motionbuilder, it is possible to stitch together separate motion capture files into one seamless movement.

Maya

  • Software: Maya
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: $1,545/year
  • Formats: ai, aiff, dae, dxf, dwg, eps, fbx, maya, mel, obj, stl

What is this 3D animation software? Maya is a favorite among 3D animators due to its highly customizable user interface. It was used in many feature films like Transformers, or Harry Potter, in the TV series South Park, or Game of Thrones and video games like the Halo series. 3D models in Maya are represented by nodes that specify their relationships and attributes. This powerful 3D animation software allows for complex tweaks with only a couple of keystrokes. A sign of professional 3D animation software, Maya comes with a sophisticated CG compositing program (“MatchMover”) that allows users to combine 3D rendered elements with motion data from film sequences recorded on set by tracking the camera’s movement. In addition, it features a comprehensive tool to model complex objects like fur, hair, clothing, fluids, and particles.

In case you want some credentials before you subscribe to the admittedly expensive 3D animation software, it may interest you that the developers of Maya were honored three times with Academy Awards: In 2003 for Maya itself, in 2005 for the invention of subdivision surfaces, and 2008 for the fluid effects system.

This 3D animation software includes a very easy to use an auto-rig tool, that can even process quadrupeds and winged models. Setting up a character rig manually is often a painful process, as the weights for each bone have to be painted piecemeal. Maya relieves from this task and creates a sophisticated skinned and weighted rig that is ready for 3D animation. This 3D animation software also features various automation tools for animation along curves or paths, making 3D animation almost child’s play.

Mixamo

  • Software: Mixamo
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Browser
  • Price: Free
  • Formats: bhv, fbx, obj

What is this 3D animation software? Mixamo is an online platform that has the potential to speed up the 3D animation workflow by creating rigs for bipedal characters automatically. Setting up a skeleton manually can be a painful process, as the weights for each bone have to be painted piecemeal. In this 3D animation software, users upload their 3D files and mark some key elements like knees and elbows. Then, Mixamo does its magic and creates a sophisticated skinned and weighted rig that is ready for 3D animation.

But, this 3D animation software can do even more than auto-rigging. You can choose from an extensive library of animation files to assign to your rigged model. The files are arranged according to genres and can be customized to the needs of your project. 3D animation doesn’t get much easier. It is possible to download a ready animated model to your home computer and render it in your favorite 3D animation software. Mixamo’s auto-rigged 3D models are compatible with the major 3D animation software tools. The files can be exported with scripts to Fuse, 3ds Max biped Skeleton and CAT Skeleton, and Maya format. If you love the concept of Mixamo but shy away from the cost, there are a handful of free alternatives: SmartBody and Riggify.

Modo

  • Software: Modo
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: $1799
  • Formats: lwo, abc, obj, pdb, 3dm, dae, fbx, dxf, x3d, geo, stl,

What is this 3D animation software? Modo was developed with an eye for professionals in the VFX and design industries. Compared to some other 3D animation software, Modo is relatively easy to learn. Its biggest selling points are polygon and subdivision surface modeling, a particle engine, and procedural animation.

One tool that is sometimes underestimated, but has received a lot of attention by the developers is selection: Components can be painted selected, loop selected, pattern selected, lasso selected … the list goes on and on. The point is that for every situation there is a suitable selection mode in the 3D animation software that will allow you to make global changes to your model. Record macros of repetitive operations and apply them to objects when needed to speed up your modeling. Similar to other 3D animation software, Modo includes 3D sculpting tools that expand your range of artistic expression with natural shapes that are created as easy as shaping clay with your hands.

Some of the animation tools are designed to appeal to artists who are used to 2D animation software. For instance, the spacing chart allows you to manage key poses and in-betweens to create animations quickly. 2D animators will also recognize onion skinning. In Modo, this view color-coded to distinguish between frames going forward from those going backward. Audio files can be displayed in a window of this 3D animation software — this a great help to sync lip movements to dialogue.

Poser Pro

  • Software: Poser Pro
  • Application: Motion Capture, Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS
  • Price: $199
  • Formats: bvh, cr2, obj, pz2

What is this 3D animation software? First and foremost, Poser is a 3D character creation tool; second, it is also a 3D animation software that is popular for graphic design, game development, architectural visualization, and industrial design. Unlike traditional programs, you create 3D models of humanoid characters quickly in a live preview by editing a base mesh – an ageless, genderless humanoid 3D file. Users flesh out distinctive and convincing characters by sliding bars that control the features of the face, the torso, the arms, and legs down to the tips of the hair. With some practice and a keen eye, it is possible to create photorealistic 3D models.

It is easy to equip and arrange complex scenes from within this 3D animation software. It allows you to place assets from an extensive library of countless scenes, vehicles, creatures, animals, and props. But not only that, Poser even has decent rendering capabilities like subsurface scattering that enhances the realism of skin rendering. That means when you buy Poser, you don’t need any other programs to create rendered 3D animations. However, export to 3ds Max or another general purpose 3D animation software is also possible.

As in similar programs, the 3D character is pre-rigged and ready for animation in movies and games. The muscles in Poser created characters bend realistically. Besides, the pro version of this 3D animation software even allows you to animate it using a Microsoft Kinect. However, you also can import and edit motion capture files. In case you want to animate using keyframe animation, this 3D animation software comes with a walk-designer that automates the walk cycles of your characters.

Terragen

  • Software: Terragen
  • Application: Keyframe Animation
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: $349/year
  • Formats: chan, clip, exr, fbx, geo, lwo, mov, obj, ter

What is this 3D animation software? Terragen is a program developed for one thing only, designing and rendering photorealistic landscapes. Using a powerful procedural nodes system, the user has full control of his creation. The terrain is generated using a powerful shader system that enables sophisticated texturing and surface manipulation. Comprehensive controls of volumetric clouds, fog, sky, the sun, and stars, make your landscape come to life. In addition, this 3D animation software allows you to populate the scene with a wide array of preset trees, rocks, and other props to enhance the overall realism.

Terragen is not only a powerful 3D modeling software, but it can also be used to animate and render complex scenes directly. Apart from basic features like motion blur and camera motion, almost any parameter can be animated. Parameters for everything from the sun, planets, clouds, and other atmospheric phenomena can be set in keyframes. In addition, the terrain displacement can be modified along the timeline, allowing for spectacular time-lapse effects that show mountains growing and eroding, rivers forming and drying, etc. Fly-throughs can be previewed in real-time.

The camera system in this 3D animation software is physical camera attributes, like aperture and focal length, creating realistic effects in all your renders. Also, the many alternate camera modes make possible use in VR environments and stereo 3D movies. If you prefer another software to render, Terragen lets export in various common formats.

SmartBody

  • Software: SmartBody
  • Application: Motion Capture
  • OS: Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS
  • Price: Free
  • Formats: af, bvh, dae, fbx, sk, xml

What is this 3D animation software? Developed at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, SmartBody is a free 3D animation software for 3D characters. Both keyframe animation and motion capture are accepted as input sources. At its core, SmartBody features a set of comprehensive 3D animation tools that work in real-time. Among them are locomotion, steering, object manipulation, lip-syncing, gazing, nonverbal behavior, and retargeting. This allows your characters to pick up, touch, or place objects in the environment, automatic facial animation based on audio input, and much more. A feature set like this is usually found in commercial products costing hundreds of dollars.

In addition, this 3D animation software is also a fully functional 3D scanning tool. Using a Kinect, users can create 3D characters in a matter of minutes. However, the real standout feature of this free 3D animation software is its auto-rigging tool. Similar to the commercial 3D animation software Mixamo, this tool allows you to rig 3D scans to use them in 3D animation automatically. The reshaping tool has been developed to manipulate the 3D character to look fatter, skinnier, taller, shorter, and other parameters. It uses a database of body shapes that give the morphs a natural appearance. SmartBody can even be incorporated into game engines to harness its extraordinary features that would be excruciatingly difficult to program on your own. Out of the box, it supports Unity, GameBryo, Ogre, Panda3D, and Unreal engines.

BEST STOP-MOTION ANIMATION SOFTWARE

Boats Animator

  • Software: Boats Animator
  • Application: Stop Motion
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: Free
  • Formats: avi, mov, mpg

What is this stop-motion animation software? Boats Animator is a free stop motion animation software that is published open-source. It stands out by its clear and uncluttered user interface that lowers the entry barrier to animation to accommodate even beginners. But it is comprehensive enough to appeal to experienced animators. Most importantly, this 3D animation software features onion skinning – the program displays the last image captured on top of the live feed from your camera. This assists you in creating smooth animations since you can accurately move your model in position for the next frame.

The workflow is extremely quick, as frames captured with this animation software can be played instantly without the need to wait for processing. The secret to Boats Animator’s interoperability is the use of web technologies like CHTML5, JavaScript, and WebRTC at the base of the program. Please note that this 3D animation software is being actively developed and that many new features are planned for future releases.

Dragonframe

  • Software: Dragonframe
  • Application: Stop Motion
  • OS: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: $295 (USB), $305 (Wireless)
  • Formats: avi, mov, mpg

What is this stop-motion animation software? Dragonframe is an industrial-grade stop motion animation software. If you have seen recent stop motion movies like Coraline, then you have witnessed a product of Dragonframe’s power. Plan your animation with drawing tools that outline motion paths. And keep track of your progress using the X-sheet in the side panel, viewing reminders, notes, and adjusting timing. Add reference videos to the screen and use them as a guide in your animation by either adjusting the opacity, using chromakey, or selecting elements of interest.

What is more, this 3D animation software puts you in charge of the camera by comprehensive settings such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, as well as support for motion-controlled camera movements. You also get full control over the environment by controlling the lights on up to 512 channels, allowing you to focus on the hands-on animation. A vital feature of this 3D animation software is onion skinning; the frame recorded last is shining through the live feed displayed on the monitor. This allows you to move your characters and props in the increments.

The viewport can be overlayed with various grids to aid you in compositing balanced shots. This animation software supports a host of cameras from known manufacturers like Canon, Nikon, Sony, and more. For production purposes, the animation software features multi-audio track editing. To help with the challenges of animating facial movement, you can import face sets as multi-layered Photoshop files as reference material into Dragonframe. Another tell-tale sign of a professional tool is the support for recording and adjusting stereoscopic 3D movies. For those who want to use Dragonframe regularly, the publisher offers its wireless control device that will clear your stage from cluttered cables.

Source: all3dp.com

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