Cartoons Compete: PowToon vs. GoAnimate

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Sometimes in eLearning you need to create a quick animated short, either to insert into a longer course or to stand on its own. Storyline 2 actually makes this pretty simple, but there are some platforms that exist that make it even easier by providing built-in graphics; we all know that creating or finding images can take forever!

Two of the leaders in this area are PowToon and GoAnimate. As I mentioned last week, our team recently switched from PowToon to GoAnimate. In the process of switching, I was looking for a comparison of the two but not much was out there. So, if you are thinking about purchasing or switching to one of these platforms, you’re in luck!

 

Pros

PowToon is simple to use.  Creating and timing objects is easy. I like the way that PowToon uses a timeline even though you can only view and adjust one object a time on it. It has the basics and the free plan has some good features and options.

Cons

AUDIO. You can only import 1 audio file into the entire project so both creating the audio and timing it to your slides can be really tricky.

You also don’t have much control over the props and characters. They are set in stone. So, if the prop you need doesn’t really fit into your color scheme, too bad.

Pricing

The free plan offers a decent selection of styles and can be a good way to get started with PowToon. It will only let you share your video through YouTube or with a direct link, so if you want to download videos this isn’t a workable option. However, you can pay per export. The thing that I really don’t like about the free version is that it has both a watermark and an annoying outro slide at the end that has a little “created using PowToon” jingle.

For $228 a year you can get a pretty good business plan that allows you to download videos, get rid of the watermark and outro, and has a lot more included styles though not all of the styles. The only downside to this plan is that you are only allowed to use the videos for your own business; they can not be sold.

If you want the whole shebang, it’ll cost you $684 a year, though they sometimes run specials that will allow you to get the best plan for the price of $228 a year.

Why we switched

GoAnimate offers superb control over both audio and visual elements. You can even create your own custom characters in several of the styles and sync their talking to your audio narration.  It’s impressive! In addition, you can make characters actually hold objects (and they move with the objects in hand) and there are several more options for exits and entrances in addition to motion paths.

Also, you can search for a particular prop among all styles which is super handy and something I was often wished for with PowToon.

GoAnimate also has lots of features I didn’t know I was missing like a Ken Burns effect, great built-in “scenes” that can be modified as needed, and cool infographic animations.

What’s missing

I think my only let down with GoAnimate is that timing objects is a definitely trickier. There is a timeline but it only shows the scenes and audio, not the individual elements in each scene. You have to time objects relative to each other which can be tricky and makes time the full scene difficult. I think the best workaround for this is to create several short scenes with a couple of things happening as opposed to one longer scene with several actions.

GoAnimate does make this a little smoother than PowToon, including the fact that handwritten text matches up exactly with non-handwritten text, an issue I battled in PowToon more than once. I also just realized the other day that you can fit the scene duration to the content so that helps as well.

Pricing

The free plan for GoAnimate doesn’t allow exporting either, however you can copy embed code for the video or share a link. Also, the branding is a little less intrusive than that of PowToons in that there is only a small logo and not a jarring outro. However, you can only create videos that are less than 30 seconds long.

The mid level plan is $299 a year, about the same a PowToon and with basically the same additional features.You do get access to ALL the styles with this plan which is nice but you still have a watermark and can only use the videos internally.

The high level plan is $599 a year, considerably less than PowToon and, in my opinion, with a great deal more to offer.

In addition, GoAnimate offers a team subscription. It’s pricey, starting at $2000 a year for 3 subscribers, but allows separate accounts to collaborate on videos which is pretty handy.

So which one is better for me?

Glad you asked! Overall, I think GoAnimate is a better tool with more bang for your buck.  If they would add slide elements to the timeline, I would even call it close to perfect! However, if you are looking for a great tool to create some (longer than 30 second) free videos, PowToon definitely has the upper hand. Either way, these tools are easy to use and can really up your animation game!

Do you use either of these? Or another tool that you like?  Please share your experience in the comments!

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17 comments

  1. Thanks a lot Allison! I work at a public school in the Netherlands and just starting with Storyline 2. I was looking for something to make animations and found your blog. Still figuring out what’s best for me, but it’s a start! I see that you’re an Articulate user too, so I will follow you for a while (also because you love dogs 😉 )
    Love from the Tulip Country

    Like

    1. Tineke, I’m glad this was helpful! There are several options available for educators. I know Powtoon has a classroom subscription.
      Let me know if you have any particular questions.
      My great grandfather was from the Netherlands and we still have family there. I have only been to visit once but it holds a special place in my heart!

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  2. Great review- thanks! I’m curious though, about which one is better for making videos for clients. You mentioned a downside of the mid-level Powtoon plan was that you can’t sell the videos but on GoAnimate it looks like even in the fancy plan you have to buy transfer rights ($79 per video!) in order to do the same thing. It’s a bit deceiving on their pricing page because they have a check next to ‘transfer commercial rights’ but when you click on the little “i” button- it shows that you have to pay to do that per video- ouch! No big deal if people are just making videos for their own biz but seems like a deal-breaker otherwise, at least for me.

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    1. Since I use these mostly for educational purposes, and have not had to transfer ownership rights, I haven’t looked into this too much.
      GoAnimate does make this distinction:

      Can I sell my videos to individuals?
      Yes. With a GoPublish, GoPremium, or GoTeam subscription, you can sell your videos to consumer end users, provided that the video is for their personal use.
      Can I sell my videos to companies or organisations?
      By default, the commercial license included in your business subscription is non-transferable. However, GoPremium and GoTeam subscribers have the option to purchase a “Rights Transfer” for $79 per video. As part of generating the Rights Transfer, you will have the option of generating a proof of ownership document for your client.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  3. So glad I found this post! I started using Powtoon several months ago to create a few quick videos for work. I started following them on social media and participated in a contest they were running and won a few years free upgraded membership as a runner-up prize (yay!). Then, I was in a department meeting the other day where they presented a video someone else had created using GoAnimate. There appeared to me to be a wider range of flexibility particularly with the syncing of animated characters to your voice audio! While everyone else was engaged in the message and content of the video, I was mentally reverse engineering the production and determining how different sections were created – I was drooling at the thought of what I could create with this tool!

    So here I am – determining whether I just had a case of “the grass is greener”…. or if GoAnimate is something I should seriously consider switching to! 😉

    Like

  4. So glad I found this post! I started using Powtoon several months ago to create a few quick videos for work. I started following them on social media and participated in a contest they were running and won a few years free upgraded membership as a runner-up prize (yay!).

    Then, I was in a department meeting the other day where they presented a video someone else had created using GoAnimate. There appeared to me to be a wider range of flexibility particularly with the syncing of animated characters to your voice audio! While everyone else was engaged in the message and content of the video, I was mentally reverse engineering the production and determining how different sections were created – I was drooling at the thought of what I could create with this tool!

    So here I am – determining whether I just had a case of “the grass is greener”…. or if GoAnimate is something I should seriously consider switching to! 😉

    This is a great comparison of the two products! Thank you!

    Like

  5. Thank you for the helpful info. This is an awesome tool for summarizing and formative assessments as well. My middle school students opted to use GoAnimate as a way of summarizing what they learned in the ‘Internet Safety’ unit. The time restriction is actually a good thing; students must create their summaries within the set time restraints. I can review their summaries on the go and…they enjoy learning about different types of technology and it even sparks an interest in computer science for some. Thanks again.

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  6. Check out http://www.animatron.com – it’s easy to use, you can import many audio files, and timing objects is super easy. It has a free plan, and subscription pricing for paid plans is so much better then in these two tools. You have all the control of the characters and props, and can create your own as well. It also has interactivity.

    Like

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