From time to time, the internet gets a little overwhelming for me. Maybe it’s just bad timing, or confirmation bias, or my own mood, but lately, the internet feels about as productive and useful as an army of petulant children, screaming obscenities into the gaping maw of some abusive eldritch abomination. Too long; didn’t read: we spend a lot of time behaving negatively and destructively on here.
With that in mind, I asked around and did some research and compiled a list of software/resources that are free, and that make it hilariously easy to be creative. ‘Cause, come on, there’s gotta be a better way to use our time than watching/reading things which piss us off, or getting into tedious, poop-flinging arguments with strangers about semantics.
And of course, creating stuff just feels good. It gives some order to the mess in our heads, gives an escape from the mess in our lives, it offers other people a view from our perspective, and it’s a very human way to connect. The only downside is you can no longer rely on the “I can’t afford it” excuse.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it still gives you more than enough that you could write, plan, film (no camera? no problem. do animation/CG), post-produce, edit, and score an entire feature film. I will occasionally update the list, so if there’s something (that is free!) that you feel should be on there, leave it in the comments : )
- Roughdraft:formatting for screenplays/scripts etc.
- Celtx:similar to Roughdraft. A bit more robust, but does require you to sign-up.
- Audacity:record and edit music. Really flexible, I use it myself.
- Musagi:audio synthesizer. Think NES music. Note: the fellow who worked on this also worked on 4 other useful and free applications, worth checking out here!
- Musagi:updated/improved. The same person has tweaked some things and offers an updated development version.
- Milkytracker:similar thing, also allows you to directly draw waveforms!
- LMMS:a similar music synthesizer for Linux.
- Musescore:for scoring music. Also has playback.
- Power Tab Editor:tabbing for stringed instruments. Also has playback.
- Blender: is absolutely amazing. Allows you to do 3D modelling and then animate it (there’s even a physics simulator!). Has lighting, textures, everything you need to make something look good. There’s a compositor (you can do green-screen stuff!) and an editor and you can pretty much create an animated/CG film, or produce a live-action film using this alone. It has a steep learning curve, but it’s worth it. Check out this demo-reel of all the fun things you can do with it!
- Lightworks: professional editing software.
- DaVinci Resolve: professional colour correction/grading. When you click download, there’ll be a list below on the left, look for DaVinci Resolve Lite.
- Handbrake: video encoding for converting between most video formats.
- Avidemux: video encoding and editing. I haven’t used Handbrake, but I know that Avidemux can also get the audio separately from a video.
- VirtualDub: more video encoding and editing. VirtualDub can also pan and zoom and do a few more visual tricks.
- Quartz Composer: this can be used for making motion graphics. It is Mac-only. The link takes you to a page which explains how to get it (also with a handy video).
- GIMP: there’s a learning curve, but it can do pretty much everything Photoshop can, but for free!
- MyPaint: for digital painting.
- Krita: similar to MyPaint. Also has an animation feature in early development.
- Verve painter: more digital painting, but this uses fluid dynamics. Very cool, you may need a good graphics card to get the most out of it. Note: the .exe will trigger your antivirus, so don’t be alarmed. There’s a very nice demo of what it can do here.
- Sculptris: 3D sculpting from the makers of Zbrush, and the Musagi guy!
- Autodesk 123D: turn photos into 3D models!
- SketchUp: free version of SketchUp Pro, turns sketches into 3D visualizations.
- Autodesk Sketchbook Express: for sketching and design.
- Open Source Alternatives: is a pretty good list of open-source alternatives of many different kinds (and not just creative stuff). Worth a look.
Anyway, go create something!