Playing with Core Animator

Last week I picked up Core Animator, continuing my search for a decent way to create motion titles on my iPad. The app is quite fun to use, and is easy to pick up if you’re done any kind of video or animation editing. It does, however, have a few quirks and limitations that take a bit of getting used to.

Measurements

Core Animator used points instead of pixels to measure objects. The difference between the two boils down to this. Pixels are a measurement of the smallest digital element in a image, whereas a point is a measurement of physical length 1. In printing a point is 1/72 an inch. So if you set an object’s size as 36 points across, at 100% view that object will always be half an inch no matter how high a resolution of your screen. Whereas if you set up an object as 36 pixels across the size on screen will actually change depending on the PPI of the screen being viewed. At least, that’s the theory.

This confused me when I imported a video into my Core Animator canvas, which suddenly became locked to a vertical measurement of 720. This led me to the wrong assumption that Core Animator could only handle 720p resolution when handling video, but this isn’t the case. Since the measurements are in points, rather than pixels, I should theoretically export any Core Animator canvas at 1080p without compromising video quality. I’ll have to try this out in the future.

No Vectors

It seems odd that an application that uses points for measurement to not support vector graphics, but that is the case. Every object imported into Core Animator has to be a bitmap image. While this has been requested feature, it’s not looking like it’ll ever become part of Core Animator’s abilities. A developer response on the company’s forums from 2017 kind of makes Core Animator’s future development seem a bit bleak,

nope. It’s looking less and less likely that we will ever get to it… I’d love to be wrong, but to be honest, Core Animator has not been growing, so development has not been happening quickly.

So that’s kind of a bummer.

No Drawing Tools

Aside from text objects, there are no internal tools to create drawing objects inside Core Animator. This isn’t a huge deal, as I’m used to creating complex elements on my Mac, and exporting my projects as a PSD file to be used in motion. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be way to import a layered image into Core Animator which keeps the layers as separate editable objects. That would be a killer feature, but as it stands complex composites need to be exported and imported separately. It’s more time consuming than I’d like it to be, but it’s not impossible.

Conclusion

While Core Animator has it’s own quirks, and lacks some features I’d like to have, I can’t deny that it’s fun app to use. It’ll probably become part of my toolset moving forward, and it’s worth a look by anyone wanting to create motion objects on their iPad. I’ve included one of my first trials with the app below.


  1. It gets a bit more convoluted in an era of high Pixels Per Inch screens, but that’s the bare bones. 

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