2D Animation: Synfig & Blender?

I recently decided that I want to try 2D animation and I’ve already drawn some character vectors and planned some scenes.

It seems that the most popular software for 2D animation is Flash. However, I am a Linux user and can not (and do not want to, either) use Flash.
The vectors were drawn on Inkscape, which I find relatively easy to use.

The most repeated suggestions for 2D animation in Linux I have seen are: Pencil, Synfig, and Blender. I already discarded Pencil because it seems like a middle road between Inkscape and Synfig.

I would very much appreciate it if you could tell me the advantages of Synfig and Blender over each other regarding 2D animation. From what I’ve gathered on the internet, Blender has many more features but is a little more difficult to use because it was designed primarily for 3D modeling and animation.

The kind of animation I am trying to make is cartoon like those on TV: anything from “The Flinstones” to “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “South Park.”

In particular, some drawbacks I’ve seen related to Synfig are these:

  1. No swf or animated svg export (why is this such a drawback? because of vector to raster conversion when converting to avi or some other video format?)
  2. No sound
  3. No bones (is this even a problem when trying to produce simple cartoons?)

I would also appreciate it if you could mention the names of the techniques used to animate that kind of cartoons. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials but knowing the actual terms of the techniques involved would save me a lot of time.

Hi Fael (or should I say Rafael?):
I don’t have time for a long response so here is a quick reply:
Pencil, Synfig, Blender:
Don’t discard Pencil it is great for animatics/storyboard. For the type of animation you want to do use Synfig. Blender is great for final composition but it is not the only one.
No swf export but it is only needed if you want to play the animation in a sfw player. Synfig is designed for film quality animations so swf output (currently only using ming libraries) is not in our priorities by now.
No sound, yes, and what? a good storyboard and lip sync using papagayo or jlipsync can solve that lack.
Bones is in our roadmap. It will come hopefully.


That was a really useful reply, actually. I think I’m beginning to understand some stuff:

  1. Cinematic quality animations is a MUCH better feature than swf support. I guess I thought “well, then, how will I display it on a webpage?” but there must be some alternatives. One good alternative may be converting the sif file to avi (or whatever video format) and upload it to YouTube/Vimeo/etc.
    I am a little concerned about the quality loss when converting from sif to a movie format but I guess there may be some way to play a video on a website without losing too much quality. I’ll have to dig deeper into that later.

  2. Same thing goes for sound. I have read some great reviews from Papagayo and JLipSync but I don’t know if its possible to add the sound to the actual sif file or if it is necessary to convert the sif file to a movie format and then add the audio via Papagayo/JLipSync.

  3. I don’t really know anything about bones, it’s just a common request for Synfig I’ve seen posted. Good to know it’s coming.

Finally, I’d like to thank you very much for working so hard for the community. Is there anyway I can help? (I can program extremely basic stuff in TurboPascal and Visual Basic, maybe C too)

First, to complete the previous post, let me say this:
-I wanted to say animatics/storyboard not “cinematics” ^__^. Storyboad plus animatics is the most important previous work to obtain good results on the production pipeline. Everything you don’t plan carefully will cost a lot of effort and time to correct later.
-Papagayo ot jlipsync just do the following help for you: you load an audio file and it helps you to detect the sentences and export a text file with the phonemes. Synfig has papagayo output phoneme files support and can import them as an image sequence. It would allow you to correctly set up the keyframes for the talking character animation.

Have you read my signature? :wink:
To start helping Synfig Project the first place to work on is the wiki. Reading the wiki you can first learn to use Synfig. Second you can improve its content, filling the non covered aspects (there are many!) and correcting and translating it to your language. Later, if you want to help with the code, you can download the source code and start your own patches. All they are welcome. We need support on any code aspect, not pure coding but debuging (confirming or discarding old bugs) helping with packaging for each platform and translating the application to your language… Did I mention that you can donate? :slight_smile:

Don’t you consider the ability to animate anything according to sound as essential?

Highly desirable, certainly. Essential? Well, that’s for each user to decide.

When it was developed, Synfig had a sound module. However, it wasn’t freely redistributable, and may not even have been fully implemented. It’s on the list as a feature we’d like to see, but we’ve yet to have someone pick up the challenge of integrating it in.


I’d challange the idea that it is for each user to decide.

Maybe Synfig developers decide it is not essential for them, and maybe there are usecases that can well live without sound.
And sure: you can live without it! But I don’t think Synfig wants to be seen as the animation tool for deaf people :wink:
Speaking about tools that create video footage in general I would state sound IS essential.
Video is sound & image after all!

Regarding myself I see that I used Synfig as a replacement for After Effects (not really as a cartoon animation tool) and I missed sound syncing A LOT

But I see that this is only my experience, and just a lazy comment on the forum.
I highly appreciate all work done by the contributors of this project and respect the decisions of all people on how to spend their free coding time.

You guys just ROCK!!!

But in order to give feedback I want to raise my voice and say: sound is DEFINITIVELY MISSING.

I would like to have sound too but with the current speed of playback it would be very difficult to be useful. Who knows, maybe it is not so slow… :smiley:

Your voice is listened and understood. Unfortunately there aren’t many developers and the time to spend on coding is very small.

Yes, it’s not that we’re deciding that sound is not essential for Synfig. It’s just that we don’t have it, and don’t have anyone that is working to implement it. And people are using Synfig without it.

I’d love to have this capability. And if anyone wanted to make a commercial product out of Synfig, I can’t imagine trying to sell it without such a feature.

But it is what it is right now. Free and open source. You get what you pay for. :wink:

Personally I just make note of when the sound effects occur while doing the phoneme sequencing in Papagayo. So far this has worked out just fine, the rendered video syncs up with the audio without any other adjustments needed.

Although I don’t know if that would work for everyone.