8. Hardware recommendations (Computer)
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My advice on PC specs
· PC or Mac? – either will do. It depends on your personal preference. I personally much prefer the Windows interface and Windows computers offer a lot more customizability than Mac.
· Laptop VS Desktop? – Desktop PCs tend to have far larger capacity and are greater value for money. Laptops tend to sacrifice computing power for portability. However, It might be worth animating on a laptop if your power source is faulty and has regular power cuts. Laptops can continue to operate on batteries which makes them safer in those circumstances.
· RAM – (Random Access Memory) plays a big part in the performance of a computer. I recommend getting 8GB of RAM or higher if you can. Animation software like Adobe Flash can run on less than that, but you will probably experience lag.
· CPU – Your core processor also plays a factor in the performance of your computer and your animation software. I recommend at least an Intel i5 core processor or higher (i7 or i9 are ideal)
· GPU – your graphics card is less involved in the animation software. Any modern graphics card will do.
· Processor – Intel i5, i7 or i9 core processor will do the trick.
· Hard drive space – Animation and video files do take up a lot of space over time. I like to work with at least 1TB of hard drive space. You can also buy external hard drives and offload your old files onto these.
Animation software is not especially intensive for modern computers to handle. However, As you progress through making your animation, the size of the file will increase, and so will the complexity of the information in the file. Large animation document files are far more likely to crash or become corrupt than small sizes. The solution would be to break up any animated stories into pieces and then assemble the exported videos later in an editing software.
The most demanding part of the animation process is the compositing process (This includes adding effects like glows. I use Adobe After Effects for this stage). If you are interested in compositing, it is worth getting a more powerful computer, with more RAM.
My personal setup
In-case you want to get exactly what I have, or you are just curious, here’s the setup I use. Please keep in mind that I have amassed a lot of gear over many years of professional animating, and I still don’t have everything I want.
· Custom-built PC, Windows 10, Intel i9-9900k core processor at 3.60GHz (8cores), 32GB RAM, GForce RTX AMD GPU. It cost me about £1700 in total. I had it custom-made by Rl supplies in the UK. They were very good and for about £50 they assembled the entire thing for me and gave recommendations on the individual parts, which I thought was a very good investment. Look about in your local area for a computer supplies shop or call them up. It is worth paying them because they know what they are doing and will know how to build a powerful PC at a good price. Also with the specs of my computer, I wanted something really beastly for video editing, but for you you can run on something a lot less powerful without any problems with your animation software.
· An old Wacom Cintiq 12WX – which I plug into my desktop PC as a tablet and second monitor. I bought this second-hand for about £250. I hope to one day upgrade this, as it is an old-discontinued model, the screen is smaller than I would like and it does not display colour properly. I would not recommend it.
My mobile setup
I also have a Cintiq Companion 2. This is a lovely tablet, but it was a hefty price – I bought it second hand for £1000. The exact model looks like it is discontinued now, this would be the newer version. With mobile studios you sacrifice affordability and computing power for portability.
If you are on a budget, consider buying second-hand - Buying second-hand can cut the price in half.
Can you make great animation on a cheap tablet?
That is a common question I get, and the answer is YES. I spent years on a cheap laptop with a cheap wacom bamboo. The laptop speed was infuriating at times, but the bamboo tablet never let me down. Some of my favorite animators still work off of cheap tablets. the prodigal talent BahiJD still works on an old intuos to my knowledge.