Niniane Wang was watching the infamous “iPhone vs. Evo” video — a short animated film of two creatures poking fun at the iPhone — on YouTube and was thinking of all the ways a video like that could be more customizable and personalized.
It also helped spark the idea for her to start Evertoon, an application launching today that makes it easy to make short, personalized films that users can share to networks like YouTube or Twitter. The films definitely have that vibe as the original iPhone vs Evo video, but can be much more active and lively than just two characters sitting there and talking.
“I’ve always been interested in Pixar, but it’s so far out of reach in terms of making [a film], but i have stories i want to tell,” Wang said. “But I’m not going to do live action and get people to act with me. I’m not gonna be a vine start and talking to the camera for minutes. Most people have the dream of being a director, but it’s not feasible.”
Users upload a photo they want to sit on top of an avatar, which can be pretty much anything, from a photo of themselves to in one case a photo of Peyton Manning. Then, they set up the choreography of the scene by typing in various emojis: a thumbs up makes the avatar give a thumbs up, and a fist emoji makes them punch each other. They then upload a background photo and record their voice for the videos.
“At first I was asking people to type out the word, and then someone said, ‘why don’t you have people do the emoji. people love emojis,'” she said. “And a picture says a thousand words, instead of dealing with spelling errors and typing things out. It would be harder to type out the exact name of that facial expression.”
All of this is done through a mobile interface, making it easy to put together a film and share it on a network like YouTube quickly from wherever an idea strikes. The goal was to make it feel like iMessage, with the process of putting in emojis and recording a voice, Wang said, making the interface feel familiar and easier to use.
If feels at times like an ultra-simplified version of Shockwave Flash back in the day — which sought to make animations like these easy to make, but in the end was also extremely clunky. Wang said she wanted something that was much, much simpler than Flash, that would free users from worrying about things like camera angles and careful planning.
There are other modern tools for making short animated films like the ones that come out of Evertoon, like Source Filmmaker. But again, those tools can be complex, and Evertoon’s goal is to be fast, lightweight and simple, Wang said. Source Filmmaker was partially an inspiration for Evertoon, she said, in both the sense that she wanted to be able to do something similar but wanted it to be easier.
“Obviously [the challenge is taking] something complex like moviemaking and boiling it down to something simple,” Wang said. “We’ve had to refine and refine it, at first it was easy to be overwhelmed, but we really simplified it to this point now. I hope that people will use this, we’ve seen people go from a toy, where they make characters punch each other, to slapstick humor and then to more sophisticated humor where they’re poking fun at the Oscars.”
Evertoon has raised $1.7 million in venture financing.