Over the past few months, CNDLS has created several videos in GoAnimate as a part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting: The Right Questions are Key! training course. GoAnimate is a browser-based animated video creation tool that is simple enough for someone with no animation or video editing experience to use. Users can can create whiteboard-style animations, colorful two-dimensional scenes, or animated infographics. We first chose GoAnimate so we could build whiteboard animations to highlight essential concepts and key terms, and later animated several interview scenarios that demonstrated how to apply skills and ideas introduced throughout the course. We believe that learners will find the animated storyline engaging and that presenting content in a variety formats will appeal to different learning styles. Also, animating the scenarios, rather than recording live actors, gave us some flexibility in that it allowed us to incorporate feedback and suggested edits during production.

To begin creating a video in GoAnimate, the user selects from one of the many available preset scenes, which range from a simple colored backdrop to specific environments such as a doctor’s office or a holiday setting. Once a scene is selected, text, props and furniture can be deleted, moved around or replaced to customize the scene. You can also add simple entrance and exit animations to props and text.

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You can use some these entrance and exit animations to animate characters as well. To animate a character, the users selects a character and then chooses from possible actions each character can perform. For example, if you wanted a character to enter the scene by walking into it, you would select a “walking” action from the menu on the left and then add movement to the character to establish where you wanted the character to start and stop walking.

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GoAnimate has an incredible variety of possible actions to choose from. From farming to medical scenarios to public safety, there are huge number of possible behaviors any character can perform. Even though the user has limited control over the individual animated movements each character performs, this wide variety of actions still allows for a lot of flexibility when building your video. It can take quite a bit of time to go through all the available actions to find the right one that works for your scene.

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Although you do not have total control over movements as you might with some more complex animation tools, you can still represent subtle interactions by changing characters facial expressions and gestures. To add dialog, you can either use GoAnimate’s built in Voice-to-Text option, upload your own voiceover, or use Mic Recording to record your own dialogue directly. Users with paid accounts can also automatically lip-sync voiceovers to characters, which works really well.

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Another function we really appreciated was the ability to create custom characters by adjusting clothing and features such as eyes, hair and skin, which allows you to create a diverse cast of characters for your video project.  You also save a custom character for use in other projects on your account.

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There is a bit of learning curve, and I did find that some elements of the interface were not intuitive, but GoAnimate is definitely accessible for users who are new to animation. It is an especially good tool for creating whiteboard animations or for animated business, education, or training scenarios, and is comprehensive and flexible enough to be used to represent many situations and environments.