GoAnimate Raising Cash for Snazzy Tools

GoAnimate, a New York City-based startup, launched a snazzy web-based animation creator at Comic-Con this weekend. Today we talked to GoAnimate founder and CEO Alvin Hung about his company, for which he’s raised $1.4 million in angel funding and is currently trying to add $5 million in venture funding (one VC firm is already committed, he said).

Hung described GoAnimate’s tools as easy to use for anyone who has a story to tell, whether they’re an artist or not. Check out this how-to for an impressive demo (albeit with some heart-rate-raising high-tension music in the background). “Essentially you’re erecting a video shoot, and just placing these actors on stage and asking them to perform for you,” Hung said.

Taken together, GoAnimate’s Flash-based tools seem like a good mix of templates and detailed power-user options. They are pretty serious considering they’re running within a web browser. Users create tableaus and scenes from GoAnimate stock animation, themes, music and effects, as well as from their own work. Sample animation starters include politicians, celebrities and classic cartoons.

To tell a story, users can employ speech bubbles or dial a phone number to record a voice-over, upload their own sounds, and soon (within the next week, according to Hung), use a text-to-speech tool. The company just cut a deal with Entertainment Rights so users will also be able to incorporate Underdog, Richie Rich and Mr. Magoo graphics and characters starting in September.

Web-based animation sites for user-generated and higher-level content like Aniboom (which does have its own basic animation creation software), MyToons, and Channel Frederator are growing in popularity, but GoAnimate is oriented more towards the creation side. There are also lots of web-based video- and photo-editing platforms — some good ones are Flektor and Animoto — that aren’t focused on animation.

GoAnimate employs 20 people in New York City and Hong Kong. The company plans to make money through advertising, subscription services for premium effects, and white-labeling its animation tools to other sites (read: it hasn’t picked a business model). Hung said to expect more content deals to be announced soon as well as new shows from political commentators. It’s a good sign that the platform has already spawned some episodic shows: Bush TV and Super Rica & Rashy (embedded above). Hung also mentioned that people uss the tools to create e-cards and invitations, which sounds about perfect for my level.

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