Company: FableVision Educational Publishing, 16 School St., Dedham, MA 02026. Phone: (888) 240-3734; Internet: www.fablevision.com.
Price: $59.95—single copy price, CD-ROM or download. Volume discounts are available.
Audience: K–12 students.
Format: Animation-ish is a computer program for Mac or Windows designed to help students create animations from drawings.
Minimum System Requirements:
Windows systems: 800 MHz Pentium III, Windows 2000/XP/Vista (XP requires Service Pack 2), 256 MB RAM, 100 MB hard disk space, 24-bit color display capable of 1024x768 resolution, and a video card supporting Direct 3D or OpenGL.
Macintosh systems: PowerPC G5, Mac OS X 10.4.x, 256 MB RAM, and 120 MB hard disk space.
For both platforms: An internet connection (preferably DSL) to explore the Lessons section and the free Apple QuickTime Player version 5 and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Both can be installed from the program’s CD-ROM. Drawing tablet hardware is useful but optional.
Description: Animation-ish is an easy animation program designed to have students working quickly with animations. The program enables students to create animations for websites, presentations, projects, movies, and greeting cards to be shared at school or online. Animation-ish offers simple-to-use tools, a very engaging design, and multiple levels for increasingly complex animations.
Overall Rating: *****
Ease of Use A
Product Support A
Installation: This program is easy and intuitive to install. The installation simply requires a few minutes and the answers to a few standard questions. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: Animation-ish is the creation of Peter H. Reynolds, The New York Times’ best-selling author/illustrator of The Dot and Ish and illustrator of Someday and the Judy Moody series. The program has a delightful look and a charming interface that makes the software easy to use, from the beginning levels to the more complex features.
Simple line drawings can be used to create animations, enabling young students to understand the basics and learn to use the program with a relatively short learning curve.
The opening screen offers three levels of complexity (Wiggledoodle-ish, Flipbook-ish, and Advanced-ish), a link to internet-based teacher lessons, and the Project Vault.
Wiggledoodle-ish, the simplest level, helps students create a basic three-frame animation (also called a cycling animation). The students can draw a doodle, click Next to trace over it, and repeat the process one more time. The first doodle can be imported; users can click Play and watch it move, wiggle, or shimmer.
Flipbook-ish adds the ability to create more complex animations by giving students the option to add as many frames as desired; rearrange the frame sequence; cut, copy, and paste; and change the speed of the animation. Motion sequences can be created for export as movies.
Advanced-ish adds a number of features that let users work with two levels of animation—an animated character can operate in the foreground, with a separate animated background.
The additional features include Timeline, Timeline Marker, Duplicate, Exposure, Transform, Add/Subtract, and Keyframe buttons, as well as a Grabber tool. Also included are more colors in a larger Paintbox and an Art Library. Students who start animations in Wiggledoodle-ish or Flipbook-ish can continue to work
on them in Advanced-ish.
The basic tools in all three levels include a Brush and Brush Size tool, as well as a Paintbox for color selection. A Paint tool allows color fill and an adjustable Eraser tool can be used to remove marks. A Select tool allows the selection of all or part of a drawing.
The commands are usually standard, including Save, Zoom, Undo, and so on. The Share feature allows students to export animations as viewable files in Flash, QuickTime, AVI, Image Sequence, and other formats. Brief exported animations would make great additions to PowerPoint projects.
The Lessons button on the homepage takes registered users to an internet link with lessons organized by curriculum areas such as counseling, English, foreign language, handwriting, health, history, language arts, life science, mathematics, music, reading, science, and social sciences. The lessons can be viewed online or can be downloaded as PDFs.
The Lessons function works best with high-speed internet access. I was able to access the material with a modem, but the speed was slow.
The Project Vault button opens work saved by the program, as well as some examples drawn by the program’s creator, Peter H. Reynolds. These delightful drawings, called Ish-Starters, can be used by students as project starters. Mr. Reynolds appears when the Inspire Me icon is clicked; more than 50 video clips are available with suggestions narrated by the artist.
Additional excellent help features are also available. When a user moves the mouse over any icon, a description of the icon’s function pops up. Some parts of the animation process are automated to make the program relatively easy to use. Another facet of Animation-ish’s ease of use is that there are none of the superfluous features that often make children’s programs confusing. All of the tools and features are useful and to the point.
All in all, Animation-ish is easy, fun to use, and works flawlessly. I encountered no problems at all with the program. Keep in mind, however, that your computer must be powerful enough to use this software. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: For the complexity of what it can accomplish, Animation-ish is uncommonly easy to use. It has an intuitive interface, a nice manual, and lots of online help, both built into the software and available on the internet.
I used the program with a mouse, which was fine, however I find that drawing with a mouse is more difficult than working with a drawing tablet. I agree with the creators of this program that students would benefit from an inexpensive drawing tablet from Wacom or another manufacturer. (See the drawing tablet review in this issue.) Ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: Animation-ish comes with an excellent 31-page user’s guide in paper and PDF as well as a 27-page activity guide with lessons in seven curriculum areas. Excellent help and instructions are available in the program itself and on the internet. Most users will find this to be more than enough assistance. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: I recommend Animation-ish for every grade level and most subject areas, and for home use as well. This program would be excellent for students to use with classroom or lab computers when there is time to work on their own to develop their own stories through animation.
I love this program! Highly Recommended.
Reviewer: Charles Doe, media specialist, Hastings Area Schools, Central Elementary School, Hastings, MI.