Do you remember Paper? A lot of drawing apps had come to the iPad before it, but Paper featured tightly curated controls, with a focus on making the most important aspects of drawing perfect (and just as many automated).
If you do know Paper, maybe you’ll understand this statement: Loop is like Paper for animation. So now, you may be wondering, what is Loop?
Loop is an iPad app by Universal Everything–the animation studio you might know best for arting Coldplay concerts and Samsung installations. As mentioned above, it’s animation software that’s incredibly, intentionally limited. Loop allows you to draw in just three colors (red, black, and blue), duplicate or trace a previous frame, and import a movie as a stencil if you need one. When you’re done drawing your frames, hit “play” to preview. And that’s about it.
Typed out, that feature set might sound like a lot. Compared to other animation apps, it’s nothing. Because all of these controls exist in a permanent, quick-fire HUD, even an unartistic waste of fingers such as myself can create fluid animations in under a minute. (They save as small animated GIFs.)
Interestingly enough, though, Loop wasn’t originally made for me or for you. The app was actually created in-house by Universal Everything to assist their own high end, CGI animators in rediscovering their roots.
“As our studios output has developed over the years, it has become further detached from the humanist analog qualities of the drawn line. We wanted to bring that aesthetic back into the studio, so we developed a bespoke tool to achieve this,” explains Universal Everything’s Matt Pyke. “We found it a joy to use, especially the messy imperfections and life and hand drawn line brings to animation. So, we decided to release the tool as a beta app to see what the world could do with it.”
The results, which you can see over on Loop’s site, are scribbly and bohemian–less Disney than Nickelodeon–less polished than schizophrenic. But therein lies the charm: While it’s certainly possible to create something astounding in Loop, sooner or later, you have to save it as a tiny compressed GIF anyway. So as a creator, everything from the UI to the final output is pushing you to iterate quickly and champion mistakes.
In fact, you’ll discover that the only function that really doesn’t work so well in Loop is its eraser tool. And the more I play around with the app, the more that mistake feels intentional.