Review: Inchworm Animation (DSiWare)

Animazing!

When Flipnote Studio burst onto the DSiWare scene back in 2009, it quickly became one of the most popular releases on the service, although it is worth noting that the title was available free of charge. Sites dedicated to hosting the animation creations began popping up across the Internet and remain active almost two years later. Now Flat Back Films is bringing its much-anticipated animation program Inchworm Animation to bear, bringing with it a host of new features including a full colour palette.

At the basic level, Inchworm Animation offers up a diverse set of drawing and painting tools for you to create your graphical elements with. These allow you to draw freehand or using a variety of shapes and straight lines. If you want to get a bit more intricate, you can even zoom in to work with individual pixels, with or without the use of a grid option that's available. No matter how detailed you want to be, the program offers plenty of design elements for users of all artistic skill levels.

Since the program offers animation capabilities, you'll be working with individual layers and frames, which also offer a nearly limitless amount of flexibility. You can even control the amount of time and delay each frame will feature as it plays out in your overall animation going so far as to offer different timings on even individual items in a frame. There are also tool options that will allow you to draw underneath a layer or above it and an onion skin tool that lets you see the layers below the current one you're working on as a reference point.

If you want to get really creative you can make use the DSi system's camera to shoot stills or up to 60 frames of video. You'll then be able to add things to the video or edit it into your own custom animated creation. Granted the limit to 60 frames of animation can be a bit limiting, you can set the frames per second to a smaller number to fit in lengthier clips, although you'll obviously lose some animation quality.

As you work on your projects you can constantly test them out, even doing so frame by frame if you so choose. And no matter how many frames or layers you find yourself working with, flipping back and forth between them is as easy as pressing left or right on the D-Pad.

Once you've finished your project you can then export it to your SD card in order to upload it to your computer for viewing or posting. And if you have any animation programs or gif creators on your computer, you can then export individual frames to it and use even more powerful editing functions to put your creations together.

Flat Back Films has done a wonderful job of not only including a wealth of powerful drawing and animation tools at your disposal, but also done so in a very easy and intuitive fashion, although the lack of any type of sound editing is a bit disappointing. The tutorials are simple enough to get anyone up and creating their own animations in no time and when you toss in the ability to add in your own photos and video clips, you've got an extremely powerful animation package at your fingertips.

Conclusion

Much like Flipnote Studio, what you get out of Inchworm Animation will depend heavily on what you're willing to put into it. The wealth of powerful animation tools and functions make it even more potent than Flipnote Studio, but with that added functionality comes a slightly higher learning curve if you want to get the most out of the package. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but those who are willing to put in the time to come to grips with the more advanced feature set will be rewarded with an absolutely fantastic animation creation tool.