Question on Creating animations/video/illustrations

Background: I am a teacher ( middle school mostly), bought this software on my own $ a few years ago and am loving the effect on learning. I can reach all learning levels! Favorite moment: seeing a struggling learner clutching his difficult test with a grade of 100% to his chest and begging me to let him take it home to show his parents that night. Kids tell me that they save my homework for last (or else do it first) because it is the most fun. Sometimes the whole family gathers round. One of my students said he hated the modules which made me feel sad until he told me it was because, whenever a song came on, his dad would turn up the volume and his dad and his little brother would sing and dance to the song all around the kitchen.  [I use a lot of science songs]. But the big payoff is from the students who come back and say they aced their high school biology quiz that they forgot to study for because they remembered having the concepts on one of the modules - even though they had my class three years earlier

So.... I am not a techie but am willing to put work into things for big payoffs like this in student learning. So this is a definite neophyte question. I would love to be able to make more of my own animations/video/illustrations to engage students and illustrate concepts (science) and include them in my articulate learning modules. I like the look of these in this video but do not know what was used to create them: Does anyone know or have other suggestions that might be within my... ahem... skill range? And not too pricey? [I am still on my own $].

Thanks to all for all you post - I use all kinds of tidbits and gems! Kids are learning because of you!

8 Replies
Alexei Hnatiw

Hi Robin,

A couple of ideas. I use the Adobe Creative Suite to make graphics and animations (Photoshop, Flash Professional, Illustrator), but to be honest it's not particularly cheap or 'rapid'. It does however produce great results and might be worth looking into at some point. There are free trials available from

There are a few free tools out there which may be a little more relevant - I've found a list of illustration programs which you may find useful: (I've not used any of these myself, but you may find something of use)

If you're drawing your own graphics digitally I'd recommend getting a pen input device like these: but again, they're not a particularly cost effective way of getting stuff done! 

You could always draw by hand and scan images into an image editing program to crop them and make minor edits to color and levels. This should give your course a proper hand-made feel. As a free alternative to Photoshop for doing this, something like GIMP is a good alternative. Unfortunately it's not particularly 'rapid' but there are plenty of online tutorials so might be worth investing a little time in.

Storyline itself has pretty good tools for animating these graphics on the timeline once you've made them, and moving them around the stage, and you can use something like Flash Professional or maybe even Windows movie maker for some of this.

Hope this helps! With a bit of research, you can get some great results with these tools - just my two cents.

Karyn Lemberg

Yes - i would say its probably done in Flash - which is what I mainly use for animations. 

But there are lots of free/cheap software out there...I thought I'd grab a few links:

    If you can draw a bit theres this

Then I saw this one - how about drag & drop animating-  I think its free for online stuff - but pay to download -the teacher version is very reasonable 

For some more indepth stuff (fancy graphics, backgrounds included) - but still easy to use  (but much pricier)

Jerson  Campos

Another option is Anime studio, it exports to swf. Its not that expensive and not that hard to learn plus it is easier to do character animation then flash (if you plan on doing that stuff.  Of course you can also sign up for a subscription with adobe that will provide you with access to all of their software. They give discounts to teachers.

El Burgaluva

Hi, Robin

I just watched the Abiotic & Biotic Factors video. That could actually be done with PowerPoint (and then a screencap device -- e.g. Camtasia -- with on-the-fly audio) or PowerPoint + Studio + Slide by slide audio and auto slide advancement + Camtasia.

When Storyline finally gets Motion Path animations, you'll be able to do the whole thing -- including the screencap -- all within Storyline very easily.

As for recommendations: have you looked at Crazy Talk Animator? (Note: The basic "CrazyTalk" software is just for talking heads; the Animator package does full body). 

All the best with it,


P.S. I'd love to see one of your lessons. Maybe I'll dance around the kitchen, too! ;-P   

Robin Wooten

Thanks so much for all your help!  I am more and more impressed with the generosity and talent of this community every day! I finally heard from the creator - the content was done in Paper 53 and put into Keynote to make the video. I can use my ipad then for the drawing and I think I can use powerpoint instead of Keynote to make the video. I can also use Articulate for some of the animations if I don't need a full video. Now I just have to get passably good at drawing.... However, I am intrigued by all of your suggestions as well and will be downloading the demo programs to try them out. Thanks again.

Robin Wooten

Leslie - Your response made me smile! I can't put my modules directly online because of copyright issues (which is one of the reasons I want to learn to create my own images and videos) but here are some links to some of the songs I use that others have posted on youtube to give you an idea if you are interested: Music is a high powered learning tool in my experience if you can make a connection to your audience. Not all my students like all of my songs but as a part of homework (instead of other types of homework) they are appreciated.

Ruth Bird

Thanks for posting - love your question and the sharing of your student experiences. What a credit a credit to you re: students who retained the knowledge and content of your online modules. I have often wondered where to start with creating animations and was a little bewildered on where to start. I'm  now keen to explore the options that have been shared.