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As iOS apps become ever more sophisticated and feature-laden, it’s nice to see some creative developers opting for a more barebones, streamlined approach to app development. Loop is a notable example of a program lacking a long list of features, instead delivering a tool that serves as a solid introduction to the mechanics of cel animation. But as refreshing as that focus on simplicity may be, it also keeps the app from being particularly useful.
All of Loop lives on a single screen, with the tools arrayed along the bottom designed to look appropriately cartoonish in their renditions. You’re presented with three brushes, each with a different color (black, red, or blue), which are used to draw your animation frame by frame; the only real editing tools are an eraser and a "duplicate frame" command. An onion-skinning feature displays the previous frame as a ghosted image, but only one frame at a time. You can also load a QuickTime clip as a tracing reference, which is perfect for compensating for a lack of drawing skill.
The resulting animation, regardless of your artistic chops, is fairly limited: the app is more of an instant-gratification, animation-capable sketchpad, not something that you’d likely use for any kind of real video or animation work. There's no zoom, adjustable brush sizes, or undo; in fact, there's a rather long list of things this app really needs to be more than an amusing diversion.
Anyone with a little motivation can figure out Loop, which is a good thing, as the single help screen and developer's website don't offer much enlightenment. We’d love to be able to be able to save Quicktime movies from the app – it only outputs animated GIF files. You can send your creations directly to Tumblr or the developer’s own web-based gallery (a good place to peruse for some creative inspiration), as well as emailing them or saving them to your camera roll, where they'll simply look like a static image.
The bottom line. While it’s really easy to quickly get the creative juices flowing with Loop, the limitations of the app restrict its ultimate usefulness. Consider it a cheap and breezy way to learn about the mechanics of cel-style animation – for a buck, you can indulge your inner Disney.
iPad running iOS 6.0 or later
An easy-to-use, inexpensive animation sketchbook.
Very limited feature set. Lacks much-needed undo and zoom functionality.