Flipnote: My first Animation App

Before Flipaclip and Pencil2D, I animated on the Nintendo 3DS App, Flipnote Studio 3D. At the time, I knew this application can push to become an Animator. However, I didn’t know that it will be the last iteration of the App to come out at this time. There hasn’t been an announcement on its sequel or spiritual successor, yet. Or I should say, hopefully, yet. I will give you a brief rundown on Flipnote and my history with the App. How it has shaped me as an Animator and what its future may be. I’ve always wanted to talk about the app that inspired me to pick up the stylus and start Animating. If you have any history with Flipnote, this blog is for you.

The first version, Flipnote Studio, came out on August 12, 2009. I originally had it on the Nintendo DSi, thanks to my Family. I mostly used it back in the early 2010s as a video player, but more on that later. Flipnote allowed you to create Animations much like a flipbook. You can add or subtract frames, use onion skin to see the frames before and after, a lasso tool, a simple pencil tool, minimal coloring tools and you have the ability to undo and redo. You don’t have options like tweening or algorithms that you’ll find on more complicated softwares like Toon Boom or Adobe Animate. It is a lot more simple but I believe it a part of its charm. The App emulated a flipbook perfectly, but it had the perks of the digital age. I never saw anything like it at the time. It was revolutionary.

It had another ability that was just as revolutionary, you can go online with it. Yes! You can go online and you can share your Animations to the world. It was called Flipnote Hatena. Once you click the banner, your sent to another menu where you can see animations in your region or globally. Let me tell you all something, to see rows and rows of animated content from talented individuals from all around the world was a dream. I can’t share it here but a lot of the animations were kept on YouTube and on other places online if you didn’t see them yet. It was incredible. I tell my Big Brother this but it was my Original YouTube. I would check back on Flipnote Hatena every night just to see the new animations that people would post. As an animation fan at the time, it was a beautiful place to be in.

Another cool thing is that Nintendo would announce anniversary challenges, like to make a short animation of Mario or Legend of Zelda. You put your animations on Hatena and certain ones were seen and judged by the developers themselves.When the challenge was done, they would all be listed in a category and people that were on Flipnote Hatena can see all the animations that people have created. It was a beautiful treat as an aspiring animator seeing all these talented people making beautiful moving art. They were all mostly black and white but it was all about the animation and how people took sometime simple or complex lines and use animation fundamentals like squash and stretch to move the characters or settings were great.Though, I wasn’t animating then.

Yes, I didn’t animate until the sequel came out on the Nintendo 3DS. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s a simple reason, I sucked. I drew a line, then I drew another line in the next frame and I quit. I was like, “this is how you animate in 2D, i’m out”. Or something like that. It was two things.

1. I was a lazy guy (still am, tee hee).

2. I felt like my Animations weren’t good anyone.

I watched hundreds, if not thousands of animations on Hatena and people were doing such talented work. I even saw an animation of Fullmetal Alchamist. It had the characters Edward and Alphonse fighting against Envy. It was animated so well to the point that it looked like it was a part of the Anime. It was in black and white but you get the idea. The characters moved so fluidly that it felt like the animator put it on 60 frames per seconds. It looked incredible. There were so many more animations that had that kind of quality. So I compared myself to them and thought that I was below all of them. My message to any young artist right now is to never compare yourself to others. Your unique, there is no one else like you. So just be you. A very good friend told me that and it’s very true. That was my flaw back then and I should’ve never have done. If I was more confident in myself, I would have started animating back then instead of years later. The past is the past, I can’t change it. However, I can tell the new animators reading this blog post to believe in yourself and don’t give up. Back to the story

The sequel, Flipnote Studio 3D, came out on the Nintendo 3DS on Februray 10, 2015. It was thanks to my Big Brother that we were even able to get the app. In order to get it in the U.S, you had to get it through Club Nintendo. In  2017, I was looking at tons and tons of animations on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. It reignited a flame that I thought wasn’t there anymore. Not that I didn’t love animation, oh I still loved it. It was the flame to create animation. The IPad and the Apple Pencil came out not so ago and I saw reviews online. It was a first to see a tablet do so much since the Nintendo Wii U, which I also drew on. It was like a phone, you can download apps on it and everything, it was just on a big screen. I was looking up apps like Flipaclip and Rough Animator that had the ability to animate on a phone or tablet. It had so many features and they were putting their animations on YouTube. That was one of many sparks that I needed to finally start Animating.

I can go more in depth on my experience with Flipnote. Trust me, there will be more blogs in the future where I talk more about the software. I want to talk about a possible sequel in the future. I have to put a little disclaimer to my statement. A sequel hasn’t been announced at all. It’s just one animator’s opinion if a sequel is announced for The Nintendo Switch or in the future.This may take a few paragraphs but bare with me here. The Nintendo DSi was created not just with the duel screens in mind but the stylus as well. So, Flipnote really benefitted from both features. You would draw and animate on the bottom screen and see your drawings on the top screen. The software utilized all of the DS. The Nintendo 3DS as well with the ability to make animations using the 3D feature. I never used myself but others have. I can’t speak in to much detail about but I know other animators have done incredible 3D Animations. So, what if a sequel was made for the Nintendo Switch?

Again, some disclaimers. The Nintendo Switch is a couple of years old now so it may be to late for a Flipnote Software to be made for it but this is just me daydreaming. You will need the Nintendo Switch to have a stylus. From my research, Nintendo Switch has multple styli out right now. A recent one just came out with the Colors Live Game where you can draw. So, it possible to draw with the device. You can even have multiple options this time around. A color wheel,, more layers, bring hatena back and so much more. The possibilities are incredibel. The can bring in more events online. For each new game, you can have people animate for each particular game. Imagine, for Metroid Dread, have people make short animations in the theme of it. There is so much potential that it deserves its own blog. Let me ask another question, why haven’t we seen a sequel yet? Well, from my research, the software was mostly developed by Nintendo themselves. A different division, but it was made by them. So, the possibility of Flipnote coming back is definitely possible, so why hasn’t It?

In my opinion, one reason why I think it hasn’t come back is because of competition. As of right now, there are a ton of 2D animation softwares out there. You have Flipaclip, Rough Animatos, Animation Desk, Callipeg, Procreate, Clip Studio Paint and so much more. You know what else, all those softwares I’ve just mentioned can all be used with mobile tablets like an Apple IPad or Samsung Tab series. So, if your looking for a mobile animation machine, you can just get one of those and download one of these apps. It isn’t as unique anymore as it was when it came on the DSi back then. For people who are more serious in Animating can just get one of these devices or a beefy computer with a Cintiq. 

One final reason is also flexibility. If Flipnote came out on the Nintendo Switch, it may be the only 2D Animation app on the machine. In those other machines i’ve mentioned early, you have tons of options. You can have a machine with an Animation Software, an art Software, an Editing software and more for other things. As a digital work station, can the Nintendo Switch offer all that and more? I don’t know, it’s up to the individual. In my opinion, I think just having the option to animate on a Nintendo Switch can do wonders. A pro I think should think about is the fact that a Nintendo Switch a lot cheaper now, so you can get one with a stylus and it can be more cheaper than getting a Apple IPad or Samsung Tablet. So there are some pros here that I think are in Nintendo’s favor.

To go in a much more positive note, Flipnote was an incredible software. If Nintendo is even reading this, I say, release a version for the Nintendo Switch. I hope I’ve illustrated such an unexpected time being a small part of the Flipnote community then. For people wanting to see more creations in the Flipnote community, it is still striving strong. One website still continuing Flipnote Hatena’s Legacy is Sudomemo. If you want to see people keeping those precious years alive and making new animations in 2021, go visit the site. https://www.sudomemo.net/ They still do topics every month for the community to animate on, interviews with popular Flipnote Animators and so much more. I highly recommend you all visit the site to see new and old animations from the Flipnote community. I have to give a huge shout out to them for keeping the community alive and thriving.

One animator I have to recommend to all of you who still does Flipnote Animations to this day is Kéké Flipnote. He does incredible 2D Animations using Flipnote. He posts regularly and animates on Flipnote constantly. You probably already heard of him but I felt the need to shout him out. I am a big fan of his and he deserves so much praise. Check him out if you haven’t already. https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCNdNkUfhFfzBtKRU_5QgUvw

Edited: I also want to give a shoutout to the Anime,” Flipnote Warrior”. If you haven’t heard, a full anime was created using Flipnote. You should read the full story because I am still blown away by the achievement. A studio was involved called, Mirror Panel. It was edited on a Computer but the animation was fully done on Flipnote. Here is a link to the animation here, https://youtu.be/8I66lrj6CO8 . It an extraordinary story that no matter the software, good animation can always be created if you know the fundamentals of animation. A software doesn’t need to do it for you, your skills alone can do it. This team did just that. This needs more awareness so I wanted to give them that.

In conclusion, Flipnote is still alive and well. Whether Nintendo makes a sequel or not, the community is still thriving. I am happy to have started my animation career with Flipnote. It was an honor, I truly mean that. Many animated films and shows have inspired me to become an Animator today but Flipnote inspired me to actually start animating. It was the first time in my life where I realized that animation started to become more accessible than ever before. I am so happy to be a small part of this wonderful community. You all who are still animating on Flipnote are so awesome and talented. I don’t know if you all are reading this but for those of you who Animated on Flipnote years ago, I hope you all are in the Animation industry whether in a company or independently. All of you have immense talent. As for me, I will continue to animate on my Samsung Tab S6 and keep Flipnote always close to my heart. Seriously though, in the 1% chance your reading this Nintendo, bring Flipnote with Hatena back. There is a ton of potential here with the Nintendo Switch. Why not bring it?


By andianimations27

Independent 2D Animator. Creator of the series, "Color Me Geeky", "The 80s Detective" and "The Wobbly Sword".

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