Cool Tools Series: Intro – Free tools change filmmaking game

I have been checking out all the great tools on the Internet lately that can help with artistic creation especially animation, games and indie filmmaking.  There are a lot of good tools out there and they seem to be getting better everyday.  Most of them are free and fun and liberating.  So I guess this will be a series because there is no way I can talk about all of them in one post.

First there are a lot of really good animation tools out there. For me this is significant because one, I like animation and two I am frustrated with trying to make my film Star Kids live action. More on that later. Actually this all came about (this tool research project) because I remembered seeing a tool that would basically make a animated cartoon from just typing text called XtraNormal, more on that later too.  It’s very cheesy but I thought it would be handy for pre-visualization and story boarding scenes. I could not remember the name of it so I kept searching Google, I eventually found it but in the process I stumbled upon all kinds of other neat cool tools.  This really changed my whole perspective.  For one I began to realize that one could make a complete film by themselves or with help from online friends completely on the computer.  These tools are powerful and getting more and more powerful everyday.  And they are easy and fun to use too.  I mean, at the end of the day, we enjoy the creative process but in the “real world”  it cost lots of money and time to get people and resources together.  This is especially true when it come to making live action films.  I know that Hollywood is producing lots of new 3d films and whenever I see an industry cranking out stuff I know there are really good tools behind it.  So I knew or had a hunch that for 3d animation there must be some good tools out but I had never really looked until now.  Basically what is happening is that the computer and the internet are liberating the artist in all of us.  It’s getting to the point that, like writing, it’s not so much about the cost or difficulty but your creativity.  This is especially true with animation.  It used to be that to do animation it took lots of time and cost lots of money but with these tools one could conceivably do their own animated film fairly easily.

I don’t know how he did it, but the creator of the Anime hit “Voices of a Distant Star” by by Makoto Shinkai, made his own animated film completely on his home computer. It chronicles a long-distance relationship between a teenage couple who communicate by sending emails via their mobile phones across interstellar space. The series has been broadcast across Japan by the anime satellite television network, Animax. You can watch it on Youtube here:

This was Shinkai’s first film and supposedly he did it all by himself on his home computer.  I think it shows what is possible with a good idea and some creativity and for those of us who just want to create this is really good news.

Next I will talk a cool tool called Pivot.



About phactorx

Hello! My name is William Spiritdancer, and I am a filmmaker and founder of Dream Power, an organization based in Seattle Washington with a mission of helping people uncover their dreams and gifts and life purpose. We teach through writings, classes, films and our website. Our latest project is Star Kids: Awakening to Purpose, a children’s film that will teach the positive values of Peace, Truth, Love and Unity. Go to to learn more about me.
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