Mind Your Business: Cheap Geico Commercials
If you watch TV as much as I do, you've probably seen the cheap, new Geico animated spots that proclaim to be produced in only 15 minutes. Well, that's not far from the truth.
The Geico spots used online animation software called Text-To-Movie found at www.XtraNormal.com. While the animation is crude and limited, it is fun to play with.
Once the script is written, it only takes a few minutes to put together an animation. The software gives you a number of various situations, characters and voices. You can work with either one or two characters and give either one dialog lines. Then add in pre-set camera angles, arm movements (limited motions), expressions (barely discernable) and background music.
There are only so many options, so it doesn't take long. However, while most previews render in less than a minute, I've found that there are times that the online previews and rendering can take longer than I care to wait.
If you haven't seen them, you can check out the Geico animated spots produced with XtraNormal's software at:
XtraNormal knew Geico was using their software to produce the spots, but did not have to supply any support for the production.
One of the problems is that you can't move your characters around the sets or locations. They have limited movements of their limbs so the humor has to come completely from the writing.
While this is a huge limitation for a true animator, it can be a great exercise in writing dialog. When your visuals can't do much, you have to completely rely on the character dialogue for any humor or emotion. If you can make your short funny with this software, it will only get better when fully animated it.
Of course, like in most productions, when you run into a problem with the script, just add a fart noise. And yes, that is one of the sound effects available to use.
The software is easy to use. And speaking of farting sounds, my 11-year-old son, Reece, and his friend jumped right in and started laughing hilariously at their own creations in just a couple of minutes. "It's fun. It's easy, and there are so many things you can do with it," Reece told me while giggling at his recent creation.
If you've got a funny idea but don't want to take the time to animate it yourself, this is a great solution.
Text-To-Movie is their online animation program and it will publish an MP4 movie at a resolution of 640 x480.
XtraNormal also offers an animation program that resides on your computer called State. State actually offers fewer free elements to animate with, but offers more export options and higher export resolutions.