Animation is a function that the iPad does really, really well. For price, versatility and functionality for student use, the iPad Apps listed below are far superior to what is on offer as computer software or Web sites. This was intended to be a short list but the Apps listed are all really good quality and cover a variety of distinct functions within the area of animation. If you had to choose only one then Puppet Pals would be the number one choice due to its educational flexibility and ease of use.
Line Drawing Animation
Animation Creator HD - $2.99 (C)
The user interface is a bit confusing and takes a bit of getting used to but with some time invested this app allows the user to create interesting animations. Import your own background and build up the animation by adding frames and using onion skinning to adjust your character. It is quite sophisticated with many options but can also work on a simple level, depending on the ability of the user. Playback is very smooth and can be looped. Files are saved in the app but can be uploaded to YouTube. There is a free lite version available. YouTube Video
Animation Desk for iPad Lite - Free (C)
This is a really useful app to teach line drawing animation. It is quite simple to use yet has a feeling of quality to it. The onion skinning feature works really well and will transpose 3 cells. The drawing tools are adequate for basic use but may be limiting for those wanting to go further with this app. The lite version allows you to save only 3 limited frame animations. For $5.49 the full version will allow you to work without limits. YouTube Video
Flip Boom Lite - Free (C)
This app is created by Toon Boom Animation so it comes with a good pedigree and has good support files on the developer's website. The free version is quite basic but good to use as an introduction to animation. The user interface is well set out and the onion skinning feature and page advance work very well. Stills and videos can be sent to your photo gallery. The $2.99 Flip Boom Cartoon adds more tools, an image library and iCloud integration. YouTube Video
Stop Motion Animation
iMotion HD - Free (M-C)
Manually created stop motion animations can be replayed at any intervals from 1 fps to 30 fps. Time lapse photography can be set with intervals from 1 second up to one hour. The free version is add free but only exports to the photo library and Facebook. Upgrading to the full version for $1.99 allows exporting to mail, YouTube and the iMotion gallery. For educational purposes the free version offers all the functionality that is really necessary. YouTube Video
Stop Motion Studio - $0.99 (M-C)
This is an easy App to use, press the plus sign to start a new project and press the camera icon to take a photo -couldn't be simpler! Projects are auto saved and can be added to later on. Two important features fro stop motion creation are an overlay mode and a grid to enable more precise positioning between shots. Add a voice over or a music file before saving the project which can be exported to the Photo Library, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes or emailed. Use the Stop Motion Studio Remote Camera App over wifi as a remote camera. A range of effects can be added with inexpensive add on packs. YouTube video
Character Animation
PhotoPuppet HD - $2.99 (C)
This is a very sophisticated animation app for a very low price. Use the ready made puppets or customise your own. This is the type of app where you spend time tweeking using the range of options available to produce a polished result. Very suitable to extend younger creative students or for older media students. If you would like to try before you buy there is a Lite version which allows you to use up to 3 puppets and create 15 second animations.Great support from the developer's websitewhich contains information and video tutorials that will help you get started. YouTube Video
Puppet Pals Director's Pass - $2.99 (C) . . . . . * * HIGHLY RECOMMENDED * *
The versatility and ease of use of this app is pure magic and is a must have. The free version gives you one set of characters and backgrounds but just download the Directors Pass version instead for a huge variety of characters and background and more importantly it unlocks the ability to add your own characters and backgrounds from your own photos. Multiple characters and backgrounds can be added to the stage with all movement and narration recorded in real time for playback. Video files can be saved and exported. This app has huge scope for educational use. YouTube Video
Toontastic - Free (M)
Animations are created by working within an excellent tutorial that takes the user through a step by step process to build an animated story. Select your screen content from the available backgrounds and character sets. Additional characters are available form the Toy Store but these are not very good value for money (buying 3 or 4 characters for $1 is not value). An all items upgrade will cost $13.99. YouTube Video
Preset Animation with sound input
Morfo 3D Face Booth - $0.99 (M)
Start with a facial photo or take a photo from within the app, for best results the subject should have their mouth closed. Adjust and frame the head with a simple alignment tool. Accessories from a large variety of themes and costume options. Record a message and watch an animated video which can be saved to the photo gallery, emailed or sent to Facebook. There is a free version of this app don't bother because you will very quickly want to purchase the 99 cent upgrade. YouTube Video
Sock Puppets - Free (M)
The basic app comes with 6 sock puppets and 7 image and 4 plain colour backgrounds and a variety of props. There is an In App store to purchase a range of additional additional content and functions. A full upgrade to all features and content will cost $4.49 Recordings can be created and viewed in either portrait or landscape. Once the characters are scenes are set and the recording made the app lip synchs the recording to the puppets mouth movements. Files are saved in app but can be exported to Facebook or Youtube. YouTube Video
Talking Tom Cat for iPad - Free (M)
There are several versions of this and related talking friends - Larry, Baby Hippo, Harry and more but this is the first and probably the best of the series for educational use as it works well without any upgrades or in app purchases. Simply talk to Tom and he will repeat whatever you say. Press the record button and create a movie of Tom speaking - this is quite creative when imported into a movie project. YouTube video
App Categories
I - very directed or purely for information
I-M - mostly instructive but allows for some response to user input
M - fairly even mix of instruction and creativity, produces a predetermined outcome
M-C - mostly creative but within a framework, allows for varied output
C - very open ended allowing full user control of the content created, usually starts with a black page

Prices are in $AUS and were correct at time of publication but are subject to change.