How often have you found yourself immersed in a film or computer game and had to remind yourself that none of it's real? Computer animation has brought an astonishing level of realism to the big and small screens. And, while the likes of Wallace and Gromit show there's still room for the old-fashioned virtues of character and personality, no one can deny the impact technological advances have made in animation.
It's not just studios that can benefit, either. PC animation software has fallen in price as processing power has increased. Armed with some templates and sample characters, you can create your own scenes in no time.
We suggest ignoring the well-known animation tools, which quickly step up in complexity and are notoriously difficult to use for animating humans. Instead, load up Antics 3.1 (check out our review of 3.1 ProPack). Ready-made content can be downloaded from Antics' website, which means that you can immediately populate your scenes with characters and props.
Here's our guide to getting started.
1. To get the most out of Antics 3.1, install the free content pack from our cover DVD. When you first open the application, you'll see that the main window is dominated by a 'set'. A room is laid out for your characters and props. There are toolbars and folders for creating and directing your scene.
2. By default, a basic square room is provided for you to stage the scene. You can change the shape of this area by clicking the Select icon (the arrow near the top right-hand corner of the screen), choosing the room you want to modify, then selecting the Edit Room icon at the top left-hand corner of the screen.
3. Add walls to your scene by clicking the Create/Edit Walls icon (the brick wall near the top left-hand corner of the screen), then click the side of the room where you want it to be added. Right-click a surface and select Textures from the menu to change its appearance.
4. To create a split-level floor, click the Create Room icon (the L-shaped box), select Move (the four-way arrow icon) and drag it above the main floor. Do the same when you want to move and rotate any item. To connect the different levels, click the Add Stairs icon and drag your mouse between the two floors.
5. Our set is ready, so we can add a character to animate. Head to View, Content Viewer. In the Local Warehouse folders, which store the Antics content pack, select a character from the drop-down hierarchies — we've chosen an adult female — and drag-and-drop its icon on to the room in the main set.